The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Karina Thompson

Contemporary embroidery art via Mr X Stitch

Karina Thompson is a textile artist from Birmingham, England.

Karina Thompson - Matthew Boulton Moon Phases hand embroidery

Karina’s work focuses on digital stitching, using techniques akin to those exploring in our Gear Threads column:

Imagery or text is initially cleaned up and edited in Photoshop before being uploaded in to Pfaff’s 5D software. Here the embroidery can be programmed and further changes made. I use a Pfaff Creative Vision machine to stitch work out. I am particularly keen to challenge the way both the software and hardware suggest the embroidery is created.

“This technology is allowing me to build imagery in a way that I never expected. It feels like the possibilities are endless.”

Karina Thompson - Not Deleted digital stitch


Digital technology has changed forever the way we discover, understand and create. I am intrigued in the way we process and communicate data; the paradox of how essentially important that data may be, yet how intelligible it is to the uninitiated. This is particularly true of medical data where information can literally be a life or death matter. And just as digital technology is changing the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, digital technology is changing the way I can work with textiles.”

“I can programme stitches with pinpoint accuracy, fill areas with decorative satin stitch and build images with precision: I can make in a way that I could not have imagined when I graduated 25 years ago.

Karina Thompson - Matthew Boulton Moon Phases digital stitch

Her latest textile installation has been launched at the site of her Making Moves residency, Soho House in Birmingham as part of its re-opening celebrations.  Using both digital stitch and print on textiles, the 29 piece installation ‘Matthew Boulton Moon Phases’ combines Boulton’s machine drawings with his interests in coin making, astronomy, clocks and metalwork

Karina Thompson - Matthew Boulton Moon Phases digital stitch

Soho House was the elegant Georgian home of the leading industrialist and entrepreneur Matthew Boulton. Karina has had a longstanding interest in his contribution to the Industrial Revolution.  Appropriately, the piece is sited in the Lunar Room , the room where the famous Lunar Society – a gathering of leading thinkers and inventors of the eighteenth century – regularly met. “I think of it as a 21st century obsessive using the technology of her day to reflect on an 18th century entrepreneur obsessed with the technology of his day.” Karina’s installation will be on display at Soho House until September 1st 2012.

Karina Thompson - Matthew Boulton Moon Phases digital stitch


I’ve known Karina for a while and her exploration in the field of digital stitch has been great to observe. It’s worth taking the time to browse her digital stitch gallery to see how her work is evolving. This final image is a piece called “60 Beats a Minute” and is an embroidered quilt based on an ultrasound of her heartbeat. It’s clever stuff indeed. Karina Thompson - 60 Beats A Minute digital stitch

Visit Karina’s website to find out more, and if you are able to get to Birmingham to see her exhibition, be sure to let me know what you think!