Inspired by Haeckel

When I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum earlier this month, I bought myself a copy of Art Forms from the Ocean by Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist. It’s subtitled The Radiolarian Atlas of 1862, and it is full of his illustrations of these miscroscopic organisms, which are simply beautiful in their detail and complexity.

A page from the Haeckel book.

A page from the Haeckel book.

I knew that I wanted to embroider something from this book, but my embroideries are inspired by his drawings, not exact replicas of them. I filled a couple of sketchbook pages with images, worked further on some, and finally chose several as good possibilities for embroidery. Here are two:

Two radiolarian-inspired embroidery designs.

Two radiolarian-inspired embroidery designs.

Also at the Gardner Museum’s gift shop, I saw zippered pouches with very simple embroidery–simple line drawings–selling for $48. Hmm, I thought. I like embroidery, and I like making zippered pouches. How might I combine the two? The above piece of embroidered linen will hopefully become a pouch. I’ve always made zippered pouches using separate pieces for each side of the outer and inner portion, but here, I’m trying out having one continuous piece for the outer portion, so the embroidery can float over the bottom fold. I’m not sure how it’s going to work out. It’s completely possible I’ll ruin this embroidery trying out this idea; sometimes that has to happen.

This little piece is also destined to be a pouch, so I’m showing it to you even though it has nothing to do with radiolarians.

Stamped and embroidered linen.

Stamped and embroidered linen.

I stamped the linen with a hand-carved stamp using screen printing ink, then I added buds using embroidery. (Those are all French knots.)

I’ve got several pouches in the works, using the zippers I have on hand as I try out the ideas. They are all either stamped, embroidered, or both, using my own drawings and designs. I feel like I’m moving incredibly slowly–I’ve been sick all week, too, which doesn’t help–but I’m getting there. Once I have these first few, I think I’ll have a better idea of where I might go with them.

I wanted to link with Dawn for her making and listening post, but I think I was mostly listening to the college basketball tournament while I was embroidering these! I guess that will have to count for this week.

17 thoughts on “Inspired by Haeckel

  1. Angie

    First of all, radiolarians is like, THE best word ever!!! Secondly, I am honored to own one of your gorgeous pouches! *treasure* Third, I LOVE THE NEW EMBROIDERY!!! Fourth, get out there and sell your stuffs! XO

    1. amy Post author

      Thank you Angie. That *is* what I’m thinking, yes, to sell…it feels like a big leap to say so! I <3 you so much for your comment & encouragement.

  2. Cameron

    You already know what a huge fan I am of your zippered pouches….having your embroidery on them would make them that much more special :)

  3. Dawn Suzette

    These are so very cool Amy! Love anything ocean inspired, even microscopic.
    The stamped tree with french knots is awesome, I am a sucker for trees too. Okay… anything you make nature inspired is going to make me swoon!
    These are going to make really lovely pouches. Can’t wait to see how they come out.
    Listening to basketball totally qualifies… even if you were just listening to the needle punch fabric that would be wonderful too!
    Thanks for playing along. Love the sharing!

    1. amy Post author

      Dawn, the sea–especially the coastline and the animals that live along the shore–are such an inspiration for me. I feel so very fortunate to live so close to the ocean. It truly feeds me. Nature is a big inspiration over here!

      Thanks for hosting!

  4. Karen

    you are totally onto something with your radiolarian embroidery. Those are fabulous and will look great on your pouches (says another proud owner of one)

    1. amy Post author

      I have forgotten who-all has pouches I made!! You have one of the first, though, the pre-pre-beta version.

      You know, I can’t imagine ever embroidering somebody else’s pattern ever again. It has fully become a medium for my own designs and inspirations, and I am so grateful for that.

  5. Elizabeth

    Love the embroidery and the idea to turn it into a pouch. I look forward to seeing how your April baby”monster” steps turn out.

    1. amy Post author

      Thank you, Heather! It’s got to be hard to have all your supplies packed away. I hope you get back to them soon!

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