Welcome to eMbroidery, a series of interviews with male embroiderers. This month, Seth Brenneman.
Name: Seth Brenneman
Location: Iowa City
Main embroidery medium: Mixed Mediaish? I sew stretchy fabrics onto steel-wire frames.
Noteworthy projects or pieces: The hadrosaur lamp is probably the largest example of my process. My favorite thing about working in these materials is that you’re not limited by scale. The philotic web is a perfect example of the limitless scale one can accomplish.
How did you come to be an embroiderer? I guess I never really considered myself an embroiderer. When you spend time developing your own medium, you don’t really think about what your process is making you. I certainly didn’t start my textile/wire method with the needle and yarn. Initially it was just the plain combination of the two in the black spire. Then I started applying it too the figure with various knotting methods. After that I used different kinds of glues. Several major headaches later (figuratively and literally!) I started using the needle. It seems fairly obvious in retrospec.
What does it mean to you? Being an artist is wonderful. You never get bored. You always have something that you can be excited about. In regards to my work, I’m very process driven. The making of the thing is more important than the end product.
Where do you like to work? I work on the floor. Working in three dimensions really does not lend itself to working at desk or tables. I work 90% in my lap. You never know what angle you’re going to have to come at that stitch from.
How do people respond to you as a male embroiderer? People are usually pretty surprised when I say I love to sew. Then they get a little confused when I try to explain that I’m not usually just sewing textile too textile.
How or where did you learn you learn how to stitch or sew? I started sewing as soon as I found my way into the family sewing kit. I started just making bean bags and other shapeless things. I did really well in all of the home ec type things one does in middle school. I didn’t really fully embrace the needle until I was about 20 or so and started sewing pieces of cardboard together. Here is when I really got into costume type stuff. Wearable sculpture is also a good descript.
How has your life shaped or influenced your work? Well, being a working artist is not high paying. My obsession with material efficiency stems from this a little. I always knew I wound not work in infrastructure heavy mediums like metal and woods. I was more interested in a more gentle and effortless process. Something where I wasn’t trying to fundamentally alter my materials. Instead, I work in materials that perfectly compliment each other. The wire gives the strength, the fabric expresses the shape. The negative space created by the wire is effortlessly and efficienctly described by the fabric.
Do you have any secrets in your work you will tell us? I’ll gladly teach you all my secrets. I recently took to the Youtube. I create a piece from start to finish with a webcam strapped to my head and offer up some live commentary and step by step instructions on my process. I really want others too take this process and run.
Where can we find you and your work? Two places:https://www.etsy.com/shop/SethBrennemanor my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOA9cWB2wpABf7CI22LdjGA
eMbroidery was created with the support and wisdom of the magnificent Bascom Hogue.
If you are, or know of, a male embroiderer that we should interview as part of this series, contact us!
The Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery. Committed to changing the way the world thinks about needlecraft.