The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Peter Crawley

Contemporary embroidery art via Mr X Stitch

Peter Crawley stitches on paper.

Of course it’s never just as easy as that – Peter creates sublime illustrations using embroidery thread and paper.

I asked him to describe his creative journey: “I wanted to capture a cross country road trip I made over the summer of ’08, but wanted to show something other than a few photos. The map seemed to be an ideal summary. There are a lot of maps with pins and red tapes for similar journeys, but the stitching was not something I had seen applied to this subject before. On completion of the map, and being pleased with how it looked, I wanted to explore it further.

I had moved into a flat into London with big empty white walls and wanted to fill them. To begin with, I started experimenting on architectural pieces, mainly Art Deco buildings in London – with nice long simple lines.

The technique continues to develop – leaving thread ends exposed, and playing with colour and line weight – as does the subject, which now covers architecture, typography, illustration and lineart. And as with all things, the more you do the better you know your materials, their limits and how you can exploit and enhance their properties.

My trade is product design, so an average day will involve concept generation – how products look and feel, and also the more technical element – how they work. We have to be very precise and accurate, and I think that has spilled over into the illustrations, where the accuracy of the line can really makes the piece stand out.

Thinking about it, the illustrations owe a lot to things like technical drawings and traditional drafting techniques, but combine media and styles not commonly associated with each other. The illustrations tend to be quite minimal and accurate – not the normal subject matter for the chosen media.”

That circle piece reminds me of a childhood activity creating similar shapes using wool and paper. The creative process has a familiarity to it and a simple elegance, yet Peter takes this method to the an entirely different level.

The execution of these pieces is faultless; the planning and care that must go into each illustration is remarkable. It’s interesting to see how Peter’s work has evolved from the initial map project, which was a terrific concept, via the buildings and architecture to new areas where threads are exposed and the crispness of the image is challenged.

Peter has moved into collaborative works; the Mountain piece is part of a set from a collaboration with the illustrator Ben O’Brien and will be sold through his website. There are a total of six pieces, all in Ben’s unique and colourful style and Peter described them as “a joy to work on”.

He is also contributing some specially designed Stitched Illustrations to The Renmen Project, an initiative
set up by Ben the Illustrator and the team at Thunder Chunky to raise some much needed funds for Unicef’s Haiti Appeal, through the donation and sale of artworks from various creatives.

We’ve featured a few examples of stitching with paper before, but I think Peter’s work is exemplary. I cannot wait to see more of his work, and to discover people who will be influenced by what he does. Seeing this work makes me want to try it, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

You can discover more about Peter at his website, you can buy his work from his etsy store, and he’s recently begun a Flickr photostream which will showcase his talent. I think it’s terrific – what do you think?


The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the contemporary embroidered art book curated by Jamie Chalmers. Featuring 30 textile-based artists from around the world, it’s a must have for needlework fans.