This year was a challenging one for many, but creatives found a way to press forward and continue making art from home. Textile artists from around the globe used the extra time in their studios to produce spectacular works of embroidery art inspired by a variety of different subjects and places. While some of these artists rendered luscious pictures with thread painting techniques, others pushed the boundaries of texture and created three-dimensional forms.
This past year, we've seen several textile artists capture the beauty of their natural surroundings in various European countries, as well as create fantastical landscapes from their own imagination. Jura Gric completed a masterful needle painting of a house burning amidst a lush green forest, and Sew Beautiful combined different techniques to portray fluffy clouds popping out of a vibrant blue sky. Other embroiderers practiced rendering their subjects with masterful realism, including Desert Eclipse Studio, who stitched three-dimensional braids that extended past the hoop.
These talented artists are proving that the age-old craft of hand embroidery is still full of creative possibilities. Scroll down to check out the most impressive and innovative embroidery art projects of the year.
See our picks for the best embroidery art of 2020!
Amazing Thread Painting by Jūra Gric
Inspired by the rich forests of her home in Lithuania, artist Jūra Gric meticulously stitched a picture of a house burning in the woods. She used a needle and thread to make a variety of expressive stitches that look like painted brushstrokes. As a result, each of her completed hoops is like a portal to a different captivating setting. “Needlework can be extremely time-consuming, but all the intricate details and textures are why I was so attracted to embroidery in the first place,” Gric tells My Modern Met. “For now, I try not to create shortcuts or to merge embroidery with other mediums. I take a more traditional approach, I let the embroidery shine on its own as a wonderful art medium that it is.”
Colorful 3D Embroidery by Sew Beautiful
UK-based artist Sew Beautiful takes embroidery art to the next level with her eye-catching 3D landscapes. Each vibrant scene is rendered using a variety of stitches, resulting in highly textured designs that look just like colorful landscape paintings. From purple and pink flowers rendered in French knots to vibrant skies depicted in long-running stitches and fluffy clouds made of balls of wool—every part of her design is a visual treat.
Realistic Butterfly Brooches by Georgie Emery
British artist Georgie Emery creates realistic butterfly embroidery art that you can hold in your hand. Her brooches depict the species Vanessa cardui (also known as painted lady), which feature patterned specks of brown, orange, red, black, and white. Each of these accessories is made according to the actual size of the butterfly counterpart, so they look even more real when pinned onto a jacket lapel.
Impressionist Embroidery by Ludmila Perevalova
Many people are drawn to Impressionist paintings for their buoyant depictions of the countryside. Artist Ludmila Perevalova takes inspiration from this 19th-century style for her luscious thread paintings. She stitches rolling hills, flowers, trees, and breezy skies with a plethora of long and short stitches that pop off the hoop. Her layers of sumptuous colors make each scene a sight to behold.
3D Hair Embroidery by Desert Eclipse Studio
Embroidery artist Maria of Desert Eclipse Studio is not afraid of tackling even the most intricate of hairstyles. She specializes in commissioned portraits of one, two, or three people gazing at a starry night sky. Clients can request different hair colors and styles, like flower crowns, french braids, and buns. She crafts the hair with different shades of thread to give the coif a sense of volume and realism.
Aerial-View Landscape Embroidery by Victoria Rose Richards
Those who love to fly know that there's nothing better than peering out of an airplane window to see the landscape below as a patchwork of abstract shapes and colors. Inspired by aerial views, textile artist Victoria Rose Richards creates colorful, 3D embroidery designs based on the rural landscape of her hometown of Plymouth, England. She uses a variety of embroidery techniques to achieve her multi-textured works. Trees and foliage are rendered in clusters of French knots while fields and lakes are recreated in long, straight satin stitches. Each highly detailed piece looks like a textile snapshot taken from the sky.
Textured Oasis Embroidery by Suter Design Co
Textile artist Fenny Suter of Suter Design & Co. creates 3D thread paintings you're meant to touch. Her extraordinary embroidery art evokes the different tactile sensations of a day at the beach, from the cool splash of the tide to the softness of sand to the smoothness of leaves. And inside these luxuriant scenes are tiny human figures basking in the water. They appear to capture a fleeting moment in time, where everything is imbued with a sense of serenity.
Abstract Embroidery by Litli Ulfur
Artist Litli Ulfur lets her experiences in nature be the guide for her incredible maze-like designs. She stitches abstract landscapes made up of leafy forests and lush moss that beckons the viewer to look closer and immerse themselves in the mesmerizing textures. Her combination of textures includes French knots, tufts, and areas of smooth stitches. “I don't seek literal forms,” she tells My Modern Met, “abstraction best reflects my own perception of what I see.”
Seasonal 3D Embroidery by Kayra Handmade
Dutch fiber artist Ceren, aka Kayra Handmade, has a way of capturing the movement of a moment in time. She creates 3D embroidery designs of female subjects with loose thread hair and fabric dresses that flow as if summer breezes or autumnal gusts are gently sweeping through them. These illustrations are expressed using a variety of stitches done in colorful threads as well as other unconventional elements such as glass beads and fine fabric.
Bee-autiful Embroidery by Emillie Ferris
Inspired by “nature, magic, and all things fantastical,” British textile artist Emillie Ferris stitches embroidery designs featuring butterflies, moths, bees, and flowers. She bases her designs on vintage entomology illustrations, which she then infuses with her own romantic touches to create a loving portrait of the subject. Her meticulous needle painting captures all of the subtle intricacies of a moth's patterned wings and the fuzzy little hairs on a bee's body.