Gear Threads – Ries Niemi’s Digitized Art

Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

Though we’re thrilled to showcase all kinds of mechanized embroidery here on Gear Threads, it’s a rare treat to come across an artist who heavily incorporates digitizing techniques into their work. Ries Niemi just happens to be one of those talented artists, using embroidery digitizing as a large part of his crafting process. Working as a self described “post industrial craftsman,” his work often deals with mashups of random text and pop imagery, rendered in machine stitches on handmade paper or other found objects.

His use of the traditional medium of embroidery combined with modern day images is offset all the more by the modern technology he uses to create his art.

Ries Niemi - My Kingdom Will Survive 1000 Years - Machine Embroidery

Ries Niemi - Meshback Wisdom 4 - Machine Embroidery

Like many digitized embroidery artists, Ries is clear that just because the embroidery is done on a machine, there is still a huge amount of hand work that goes into each piece. He notes…

“Even though it’s machine embroidery, there is a fair amount of hand in every image to begin with. I usually redraw twice in palette, once as bitmap, then once as vector, rearranging points and adding and subtracting points as needed.

When I embroider, I usually set wacky new challenges for myself — like my first show was largely on tulle and synthetic fake silk, really slippery thin stuff, then I got into embroidery on blue tarp, and lately I have been doing a lot of work on handmade paper, paper bags, and newspaper. So even if I repeat a design, it almost never comes out exactly the same.”

Ries Niemi - Scissors Embroidery Sketch - Machine Embroidery


Ries Niemi - Five Dollar Haircut - Machine Embroidery

If you want to check out more of Reis Niemi’s work, he often has pieces up at the co-op gallery Punch in Seattle, or you can have a look at his Flickr gallery. You’ll be glad you did.


Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at