Needle Exchange: Looking Back at Redwork

Last time we looked at the history and various origins of redwork. It was pretty cool, and I even stuck a mummy in there. Go read it to catch up. We ended that article with the beginning of redwork in the United States in the late 1800’s, and looked at a few penny squares. I’d like to continue that discussion by looking at some pictorial pieces by contemporary artists.

First up we have Bascom Hogue, no stranger to these parts. His piece, Two Satyrs, is freehand machine stitched.

Two Satyrs

I love how dynamic his piece is. I love the way he’s built up his lines, it really gives the piece a sense of movement for me. Next up we have Alice in Wonderland by Q is for Quilter.

Alice in Wonderland

I love this piece. The simple lines remind me of traditional penny squares, but modernized because of the sophisticated composition.

Speaking of amazing compositions, this stunning piece is from desertstitcher.

Muslim Prayer Redwork

I’m sure I’m reading too much into the work, but one of the reasons I really like this piece is the use of redwork to depict a religious ritual, which of course takes me back to all the stuff we learned last time.

And yes. I’m going to do it. Here’s one of my recent redwork experiments. I do a lot of monochromatic work in my stamp series, but I rarely use red. I felt it was the only color for Clytemnestra, though.

House of Atreus Commemorative Stamp

Next we have this piece by alexcatEye. Her redwork pistol is an elegant contradiction. When I look at it, I can feel the weight of the gun, however the design is relatively simple. But then I’m surprised by all the different stitched patterns in the piece, but it doesn’t feel overwrought. Really masterful.

M9-This is My Gun

And finally, no article on redwork would be complete without including a sampler! This piece by Drucilla Pettibone really drags that 1900’s redwork sampler into the present.

Gansta Sampla, WIP

I seriously can’t stop giggling at how perfect it is. This piece goes hard and Dru  goes ham on some thread. I can’t wait to see it completed. Also, are those turkeys? Because that would be perfect. (Turkey Red? Get it?)

So there we have it! If you want to see more amazing work, check out the Redwork Flickr group. They even have traditional patterns.


Penny Nickels is a printmaker that started playing with needles with tremendous effect. She and her husband, Johnny Murder, have been described as the “Bonnie and Clyde of Contemporary Embroidery” and you can discover the power of her creativity at her blog.


All photos in this article are property of the cited artist. Please click the links below each photo to see more of their work.

Penny Nickels

Penny Nickels is a print maker, a former book binder, currently a fiber artist and fledgling writer.

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4 thoughts on “Needle Exchange: Looking Back at Redwork

  • Bascom Whole Hogue

    22 July 2010 at 1:31 am

    I mean really, there is never enough redwork in the world. I love to make redwork. Modesty precludes me from commenting on my own work, but the other pieces are really nice.

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