A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Look-out: thread-painting par excellence - the works of Alice Kettle

Odyssey, 2003

Alice Kettle's work has fascinated me for several years now. She creates huge, colourful, figurative wall hangings out of tiny stitches. The impact is that of the painted surface. She has a fine art education so the borders between fine arts and crafts are seems to dissolve.
In an interview she states: "I make figurative pieces. I think I am a maker, I love stitching. This doesn't mean that it is without intellect since every mark and thought require a creative response which articulates  my response to the world, to life and my particular aspirations."
Wisdom ond Lor', 2010
Alice Kettle finds her inspirations in history, people, stories, places, emotions, so her work has this extraordinary human aspect which catches my imagination and involves me immediately in the stories she is telling. But that is just the first step. On closer inspection her work offers so many layers and facettes, such an amazing richness, that I just would like to spend hours and hours discovering all the depths she has to offer. 
She builds up her pieces, layers upon layers, using a great variety of threads and so creating the impression of dimensionality. In an another interview she explains this process: "I do the background first, building up the stitches in different directions so the light falls in different ways. I use thicker threads and rayons to achieve luminosity. I also use a lot of metallic thread to create an undulating surface. The light responds to the different threads in different ways and you can also create areas of shadow. You can create three-dimensional effects by varying the tension in the cloth or ba keeping stitching in one small area so that the machine is forced to pound and mould that area into a specific raised form. I than go back and "draw" the figures."
Pause I, detail
I found this very recent video where she explains a her piece on her namesake, Alice Kettle, a mediaval witch.


  1. Alice Kettle has to be the best machine embroiderer in history, past and future! thanks for reminding us of how great she is.


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