11 colors, over 182,000 stitches, 8 hours of run /prep time, and countless hours of digitizing and interpretation went in to this machine embroidered piece.
When Stitches approached me to create the cover for their January 2012 issue, I was given a full-color photograph of a carousel horse and a finished embroidery size spanning the entire area of the magazine cover, being some 9" by 11". I was eager to digitize the piece for one of my favorite sources of trade news, and I gladly accepted.
The original image, while very interesting, used a great deal of depth-of-field to create contrast/tension between the lead horse and the background. Being that embroidery, by it's very nature, does not have the softness/capacity for blurring that one sees in print, I felt that rendering the image in full color would cause the depth to be somewhat lost. The background elements would be as crisp in some places as the foreground, if they were to be rendered in a recognizable way. I suggested only the lead horse be stitched in full color.
As you can see in the digital preview of the full embroidery, this use of color and detail that rose in complexity and color depth as it approached the front plane of the image gave the scene a very tangible sense of space. Beginning with very loose, light fills on a black substrate and building up toward the fully-filled, richly carved, and colored lead horse, the design almost recaptures the sense of focus seen in the original image.
I was surprised to see how much could be intimated with so little- the reflection of the carousel horse present in the darkened glass at the left of the image was one of my favorite surprises of the process. The finished piece, replete with metallic accents, jewel tones, blended greens (only 3 green thread colors are used), and the shine of the carved satin-stitch mane of the lead horse, remains one of the defining pieces of my career to date.