Designer Leanne Prain creates unique works of embroidery meant to encourage thought and change your expectations about what embroidery should be. Her unconventional subversive designs often explore the political and cultural aspects of handcrafts, emotional motivation behind the stitching, and have become an obsession for this Vancouver, Canada-based author and needle artist.
Leanne describes the motivation for her unusual embroidery and the designs of other hip, creative artists, as being subversive “when it changes expectations of the traditional art form.”
This amazing artist doesn’t work from a studio, but instead prefers projects that she can slip into her tote and work on the fly and are inspired by what she sees around her at any time. Her latest projects are “inspired by ways that embroidery can create or elevate symbols to icon status.” Her new series is based on heritage neon artwork around Vancouver, British Columbia.
In Leanne’s new book Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery, the talents of over 70 unique embroidery artists have been gathered together to create a no holds barred book featuring unusual art using needle and thread in unconventional ways.
Many of the artists featured in Hoopla are self-taught stitchers, who have never stitched a sampler or copied a pattern. Not only have these talented artists made up their subject matter, they’ve developed their own method of making stitches.
Some of the interesting and avant garde examples of projects from the book include this Tattoo Doll shown at upper left by Sherri Lynn Wood (based on tattoo designs by Sarah Peacock), Jenny Hart’s detailed stitching of rock legends of Iggy Pop, Johnny Murder’s outspoken cartoon characters saying some uncouth things, Anywhere Next Exit, #1 made by ex-convict Ray Materson shown at right, and Richard Saja’s subversion of traditional toile, turning Victorian prints into strange flame haired people and animal-human hybrids.
Leanne has focused on the unexpected work within the art form to expand the appreciation of the art form and inspire people to use stitch work to propel their own ideas and sentiments, be it personal, social, or political.
The artists featured in Hoopla definitely shatter this reputation – as iluustrated by this incredible-yet-creepy design by Sarah Terry titled Home Invasion. The full pattern and instructions for this project are featured in the book. It certainly sends shivers up my spine, and makes me rethink the ways we can use embroidery on everyday objects!
Leanne feels that we are now living in a time in history where it is possible to reclaim stitchwork as a method of expression that is uniquely our own, and not dictated by tradition of common expectations.
I’m so excited by the fresh, funky and unusual approaches to stitching that are featured in this book, and excited to see more unique and thought-provoking embroidery from Leanne and all of her stitching friends.
Stay tuned, because we’re going to be sharing more information about Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery later in the week, and DMC will be giving away two copies of the book!