Every day at sunrise and sunset, the sky transforms into a gradient of beautiful colors. Los Angeles-based textile artist Jen Smith (also known as Jen Ann Handmade) captures this kaleidoscopic phenomenon in her distinctive nature-inspired embroidery art. She stitches various landscapes and seascapes in jigsaw-like sections using a variety of vibrant threads.
“I was raised in a creative household—my mom was a maker, and my dad was a photographer,” Smith tells My Modern Met. “I was sewing and stitching from a very young age, and even though I ended up majoring in marketing in college, I continued working with fiber into adulthood… dabbling in knitting and continuing to sew. But once I started embroidering about four years ago, everything sort of clicked into place. I love how tactile and versatile embroidery is, and it's also a practice that is easy to take with you anywhere.”
After balancing her day job with embroidery for several years, Smith finally decided to pursue her art full-time in 2019. Since then, she has been creating a variety of playful depictions of beaches, deserts, and mountains. “Nature is my strongest and most consistent inspiration, and I love working with lots of bold color,” she continues. “I typically start with a nugget of an idea and sketch until I arrive at something I feel drawn to create. Oftentimes I draw several designs at a time, leave them to marinate, and come back to them weeks or months later to refine them. Then I pull out my embroidery floss to choose colors which is one of my favorite parts of the process.”
Her creative practice not only includes making original works of stitched art but also helping other people learn how to begin embroidering through all-inclusive kits and downloadable patterns. You can purchase Smith's products via her Etsy shop, and keep up to date with the artist's latest creations by following her on Instagram.