What do you think of when you hear the term “thread arts” or “embroidery”?

Your mind may conjure up images of embroidery hoops, trips to the craft store to sift through colorful bins of thread. Maybe you think of someone near and dear to you who took embroidery up as a hobby.

The world of embroidery is ever-evolving, with creative multi-hyphenates like Danielle Clough pushing the boundaries of what can be done with a simple piece of thread. Whether it’s using the craft as a way to explore and hone in on your creative voice of style, trying to create work that you can sell or gift to love ones, or simply making for the joy and mindfulness of it, there are nearly endless possibilities when you have a piece of thread, an incredible teacher, and the curiosity to learn more.

In this article, we’ll meet Danielle Clough, learn more about thread arts, and discuss the power and presence of crafting. Best yet, if you’d like to dive in deeper, you can take Danielle’s brand new Skillshare Original, “Intermediate Embroidery: Explore Collage, Portraits & Embellishments” and follow along with the accompanying DMC kit fit with all the fixings you need to get crafting. Let’s dive in!

Meet Danielle Clough

Danielle Clough is a multidisciplinary creative powerhouse – from thread arts to photography, design, and more. Born and raised in Cape Town, she studied art direction and graphic design before turning to the visual arts and tactile creation as a career. After early success creating visuals at live music events for the likes of the Allah Lahs, Black Sun Empire, and more, she turned her attention to digital design and “thing making.” 

Danielle Clough’s embroidery recreation of Tina Fey

Her first Skillshare class, “Painting with Thread: Modern Embroidery for Beginners” showcases many of her fan favorite works, from embroidery on nontraditional materials all the way through to portraits of the likes of Tina Fey and Danny DeVito (all done in thread!). Her latest class allows you to take your skills to the next level and try your hand at intermediate thread arts.

Learn Thread Arts with Danielle Clough

Painting with Thread: Modern Embroidery for Beginners

Wherever or however you’ve come to know Danielle Clough, her work packs a punch. Ask her nearly 200,000 Instagram followers who are keen to see her latest creations – from hummingbird portraits to the perfect recreation of Cher from Clueless (on plaid, of course).

What is Thread Arts?

Put simply, thread arts is anything that you can do with thread. Think: traditional embroidery, thread painting, string art, thread crochet, even sewing machine drawing. Each of these mediums use the same essential tools: thread, needle, and some surface whether it is a traditional hoop or non-traditional multimedia piece.

One of the most exciting things about thread art, as Danielle ponders, is that the future for the craft is infinite. As long as there are people creating with motivation to improve or explore, we’ll be seeing more and more creative outputs from a thread, a needle, and an inspired creator. With so few tools and so many avenues to discover, thread arts is the perfect field for both creative experts and novices alike, who can look to uplevel or simply enjoy a moment to be present.

“Just the act of sewing is so meditative, and it’s so present that even if you make something that just ends up in the bottom of the shoebox, the time you spent making it is gonna be valuable.”

Danielle Clough

How Crafting Became Creative Freedom

“There’s a certain superpower you have when you have a strong attention span and you’re able to focus and just be inside your life,” Danielle notes.

Unlocking that superpower comes in the simple but impactful act of making – of staying present to the moment of the craft and reducing the outside noise. It’s also something that becomes easier to practice when you start to consider yourself a crafter.

“The title crafter gives you just infinite freedom to make. Whether it’s knitting, crochet, decoupage, the work can just be the process of making. And I think it’s in that process as a crafter, as a creative, that we really learn the most and we can be the most self-reflective.”

Danielle Clough’s recreation of Danny DeVito in embroidery

Removing the Creative Pressure

If you’re looking to start crafting, Danielle has just the advice for you. Creative people often find the pressure of making and staying productive, and sharing their work for validation with others. Whether that’s on Instagram or TikTok, or simply sharing as a piece of your portfolio itself, the act of creating to publish or share can be intimidating. Instead, Danielle offers the suggestion that you simply make for yourself.

“We put so much pressure on ourselves to be productive and then to share and be productive and to share and [we’re] always looking for validation. So everything we create, we have this expectation that we need to put out into the world. And I think if we get back to the essence of why we create and just make something for yourself that really can help reignite that little bit of fire that you had before. And hopefully, you know, that fire grows.”

It doesn’t need to be any grand piece – it could be as simple as drawing on a piece of paper the vision for your embroidery portrait. Whatever it is, it’s a step in the right direction to unlocking your creative dreams. 

Get Crafting with Thread Arts

And if you’re looking to further that journey, start with Danielle Clough’s thread arts classes on Skillshare.

Craft alongside Danielle Clough

Get the DMC kit to kick off your thread arts journey.