We typically expect embroidery to be stitched in a hoop, but artist Danielle Clough defies convention with her fiber art. For years, she has been stitching plants onto vintage tennis rackets and has transformed the sports equipment into handheld works of art. From beautiful blooms to prickly cacti, each piece is an electric combination of vibrant color and layered stitched texture that has a painterly appeal.
We’ve marveled over Clough’s work—particularly her What a Racket collection—for years, and during this time she has continued to build upon her racket repertoire. “At the moment I've been working on large portraits and on a new ‘bouquet’ of rackets, where I have been experimenting with beads and threads,” she tells My Modern Met. “My sunflower racket might just be my new favorite! Sunflowers track the sun and I love how the beads do the same, changing as the light changes too.”
Beautiful blooms are the focus of her work. “My most recent batch in the What a Racket series is mainly flowers because I love the colors and depth and symbolism they hold. Traditionally, flowers are the embroiderer's ‘go-to’ which is why I love that they live stitched on these fabric-free surfaces.”
The freedom from traditional fabric is aesthetically exciting, but it’s not without its struggles. “One of the challenges with them is that essentially you start sewing into air,” Clough explains. “I don't use a backing fabric, so you have to hope you are placing the yarns in the right spaces.” But when Clough gets it right, it pays off. “There is no undo button with something as time-consuming as embroidery, but this is also why, to me, it's the most present and amazing medium.”
Scroll down for works from What a Racket. Then, learn to stitch like Clough in her class on Skillshare.