If you would have told me a year ago that I would be embroidering my own illustrations and selling them online I would have laughed at you.
Quarantine has pushed me to find creative outlets that I had not previously explored. Embroidery being the most unforeseen of the art forms I’ve taken on. (#Random)
Fiber arts—Is what the medium is called when you work in textiles or threads or yarn.
I love that term.
It evokes for me all the individual strands that make up a piece of cloth. Add one stitch and then another and a few hundred more and then you have something. Each stitch, as important as the last.
There was no specific reason why I started stitching other than I had a needle, I had thread and some swatches of felt and lots of time. After watching a young woman on Pinterest I thought, I can do that!
My first ever stitch wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t beautiful either. I was aiming for a luminous moth and somehow it resembles an Easter Bunny.
But there was progress and learned technique, lots of YouTube videos and an otherworldly drive to make something by hand.
I attribute this drive to the power that exists in the feminine.
Embroidery has a rich history of the feminine. It’s roots date back centuries and the threads often tell stories of culture, loss, tragedy and family woven into tapestries mostly made by women. The medium allowed for the unseen and the unheard to tell their own stories, parts of which we wouldn’t know based on public record. Maiden names, political ideology, counter-culture and patriarchal resistance all stitched onto pieces of fabric.
“After all, a woman didn’t leave much behind in the world to show she’d been there. Even the children she bore and raised got their father’s name. But her quilts, now that was something she could pass on.” – Sandra Dallas
Perhaps it was this subversive quality of embroidery that I subconsciously gravitated toward.
As a Queer Puerto Rican man living in the U.S. I have a lot to fight for and in a small way I believe I am adding to the subversive history and discourse of embroidery arts through the act of making.
My works are, in a sense, recording the moments we are living through, from pop culture, to politics and sexuality, each piece is part of the larger story that is being told through fiber arts.
The women in my life represent strength, safety and acceptance. And it is that divine femininity that gives me the confidence to pursue my artistic endeavors.
So it may be that embroidery found me in a moment when I needed a warm embrace. In the darkest moments it brought to my fingers patience and diligence. A gift from our female ancestors that I eagerly snatched up.
I’m still finding my own style, and what themes appeal to me. I’m ok with that. I like trying new techniques and ideas, oftentimes my brain stitches faster than my fingers (And my Pinterest boards are bursting with inspo). If I’m grateful for anything that has come out of quarantine, it is the time that has been gifted to me to explore different mediums.
It is certainly a privilege, in these often perilous days, that I have been granted an opportunity to explore my own creative ambitions. This moment exists only because the world was forced to stop, slow down and create anew. The medium itself expects the same of me, slow and steady stitches. Time is in abundance right now and I’m excited to see what can be made.
As of today I have created a new page on my blog dedicated solely to my handmade embroidery pieces. My goal is that eventually this will become a full online shop, but for now it is more of a gallery of my work.
Each work is unique and made to order. With the holidays approaching I am now open for commissions. Take a look at my work and shoot me a message if something in my gallery interests you. I can recreate any of my previous works or take on a new concept of your choosing. I love a challenge so let me know if there’s something specific you’d like to see made in threads.
I will also be making hand stitched holiday ornaments which I will release as a flash sheet on my instagram soon. Stay tuned for shop updates!
I have big goals for my work. As an artist, I would also like to further my interests in the digital arts, life is about balance and I love the juxtaposition between a slow art form like embroidery and digital illustration through pixels (more on that soon).
“A man who works with his hands is a laborer;
a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman;
a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.” – Louis Nizer
As for the future of my embroidery art, I am conceptualizing a thematic series, one that explores Latino Culture, Queerness, Superstition and Myth. They are stories I believe should be told. These will be released slowly as I’ll be working on them in between commission work.
Thanks for reading Brujas and a special thank you to everyone who has supported my art, either through ordering a commissioned piece or kind words of encouragement.
You all give me life.
And remember to support your local artists and small business this holiday season. It is especially important in these difficult times. So shop small! (Jeff Bezos has enough money).
~Richie Wilde Lopez