I have been working for a while now on an embroidery piece inspired by the tidepools surrounding the rocky beaches of Southern Vancouver Island. It isn't really a finished work, I feel like it is more of an embroidered sketchbook for a future project. I am using cotton embroidery thread on white linen, with a little silk applique. Above is a Purple Ochre Star, which is the most common starfish where I live. Depending on what part of the coast you live on, Ochre Stars will vary in colour from the deepest purple, to bright pink and orange. The purple variety is the most common here, but in every large pool there are a few salmon pink sea stars too.
One of my favourite things are the sea anemonies. Even though my first instinct is to make things really challenging and complicated, I am always most impressed with artists that are able to use very simple shapes and effortless looking styles to say more. I wanted to show the way the anemonies aggregate and squish together without being too fussy. I really am in love with their irregular oval shapes, made with just radiating straight stitches.
I added some bright green silk applique and heavy satin stitching to make green algae. I also really like the feathery red algae, and it is very easy to get carried away sewing the branching fronds with finer and finer thread.
I am still trying to figure out the best way to make embroidered barnacles. I think that they would look best done in white or light grey on a darker background like navy blue. I would love to see all their angular shapes, like living prisms, feeding with their feathery appendages.
The part of this project that has me stuck is how to execute the embroidery composition so that it looks modern, unfussy and striking. What I have right now is a jumble of things tangled together, which is how they live in real tidepools, but in my opinion is not the most effective presentation. I think that embroidery can be a very modern feeling medium, but you have to be careful with its treatment to do so. I really want to be sure that this project doesn't tread into stuffy "embroidery sampler" territory.
I am thinking about making 3 or 4 small pieces, each with only one or maybe two different species, but linked by style or by how they are framed. I think it might be make them feel more modern to frame them simply in their hoops. What do you think?