Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Wool Paintings of Cayce Zavaglia

You probably admire the meticulous detail and realism of the painting above. As you should, but it's not technically a painting. It is, strictly speaking, a piece of embroidery. Artist Cayce Zavaglia trained as and was a painter until she got pregnant with her daughter, and consequently decided she no longer wanted to use oil paints because of the turpentine and fumes that inevitably accompany working in oils. Instead, she began "painting" with wool.

Zavaglia initially found it frustrating to no longer be able to just create any shade or tint she wished as one can with paint, and resolved the problem by learning to layer different coloured stitches in order to create the illusion of the specific colours and tones she wanted. Her stitchwork mimics drawing techniques in their direction and layers to create a visual depth, volume and form. Her pieces are entirely hand-stitched, can be as large as 1' x 3', and take as long as six months to complete. She uses a single ply of wool or acrylic yarn, as well as cotton and silk threads, and works mainly on linen.

Zavaglia still considers herself a painter and finds it difficult not to refer to her works as "paintings", but also considers her work an "unabashed nod to the tradition of tapestry and her own love of craft". You can see and learn more of Zavaglia's work on her web site.

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