Today’s artists are putting their own spin on traditional crafts such as hand embroidery and paper-making. We’ve highlighted four artists who have used unconventional materials or techniques to push their mediums forward: prepare for eye candy below. 

Hand embroidery with Danielle Clough

1. Hand   Embroidery - Danielle Clough
Danielle Clough

Embroidery usually conjures images of delicate florals or maybe even abstract designs, but Danielle Clough has sidestepped conventionality in favor of something bolder. Her embroidery work — which she refers to as “thread sketching” — takes on a painterly, 3D effect that makes it seem as if you could pluck the creations right from the loop.

“The way that I found embroidery, I had no idea what the rules were. And not knowing what the rules are, and the do’s and don’ts gave me so much freedom to just explore and play and develop my own technique and my own style,” she says.

You can listen to Danielle break down her embroidery technique, and learn to create a thread painting of your own in her new Skillshare class: Painting with Thread: Modern Embroidery for Beginners.

Paper Art with Emily Paluska

2. Paper Art - Emily Paluska
Emily Paluska

When we think paper crafting, what usually comes to mind are flat (or near flat) pieces of art or more ornate origami. Emily Paluska has flipped the script with her handcrafted botanical paper “curiosities” which are so intricately crafted and rich with texture that it’s easy to confuse them with the real thing. Whether a plump succulent, vibrant blooming artichoke, or many-layered ranunculus, the delicateness of the paper medium makes each creation seem especially airy and light.

Oil Painting with Alyssa Monks

3. Oil Painting - Alyssa Monks
Alyssa Monks

Throughout oil painting’s history, we’ve seen the development of myriad techniques — such as Seurat’s pointillism and Leonardo da Vinci’s sfumato — and a variety of approaches ranging from surrealism to the abstract. In an age where it might seem like everything’s already been done before, Brooklyn-based figurative painter Alyssa Monks has proven it’s still possible to reinvent the wheel. She uses a unique layering technique that flips the background and foreground, and another that creates the illusion of a semi-transparent filter — such as water or steam — “over” the image. On her website she says, “I strive to create a moment in a painting where the viewer can see or feel themselves, identify with the subject, even be the subject, connect with it as though it is about them, for them.”

Book-binding with Kaia Bakken

4. Book-binding - Kaia Bakken
Kaia Bakken

Numerous artisanal trades have fallen by the wayside with advancements in new technology and traditional bookbinding serves as a perfect example. Although machines have automated the process, there remains a small group of dedicated bookbinders out there who’ve embraced the art. Kaia Bakken, based in Minnesota, is one of those people. Not only does she utilize various traditional and modern-day bookbinding techniques, but she’s also gone one step further by weaving resin into the binding mix to create botanical-in-resin covers. Some are full resin covers and others are resin windows within leather binding.  

 Whatever your preferred craft, we hope these boundary-pushing artists revved your creative engine.

Written By

Wendy Rose Gould

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