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I Started Creating Anatomical Embroidery After I Had An Extensive Facial Surgery
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Needle and Thread5 years ago

I Started Creating Anatomical Embroidery After I Had An Extensive Facial Surgery

Until the first of many phases of extensive facial surgery to correct my Bells Palsy three years ago, I’d never embroidered anything. It was during a hospital stay to insert one of my chest muscles into my left cheek that I realized I could marry up my love of hand sewing with my love of human anatomy and a hobby was born. I bought embroidery thread, dug out my old copy of Grey’s Anatomy, and got started on an anatomically correct image of the facial muscles which was immediately bought by my consultant facial surgeon.

I’ve since created hand-embroidered images of the heart, uterus, hand, ear canal, and am now working on an embroidery pattern of the kidneys and I’ve sold them to a mix of clinicians.

Each embroidery artwork takes up to three months and I start by researching images that are medically interesting and possible to be rendered in false color (otherwise everything would be pink!). I begin with Grey’s Anatomy then move onto books of photographed clinical dissections to get a feel for the textures of the organs. I’ve even dissected the dead animals that my cat has brought in, to get a better idea of which embroidery stitches I can use to render muscles (couching stitch) or glands (French knots), and have attended shows about anatomical dissection.

With each work of art, I begin by stitching a general color for each of the parts. I then move onto the darker and lighter shades, layering the stitches to create levels of texture and depth which also makes the unique artworks tactile. It helps the embroideries to pop off the hoop and gives viewers an idea of how the organs actually look and feel but without the gore factor.

The beautiful artworks become increasingly intricate as I work them, moving from larger swathes of color to the tiniest stitches in single strands of thread. It’s extremely detailed work that requires constant reference to anatomical accuracy but it’s deeply therapeutic and the end result is an image that is educational as well as gorgeous (even if I do say so myself!).

I’ve now completed all of my facial surgery (for now, at least), and although I still carry the effects of Bell’s Palsy it has at least opened a door to a form of art that I had never considered before. It’s a silver lining that not only brings me joy but helps me create. Beauty and creative ideas really can be found in the most unexpected places after all.

More info: krakenkreations.co.uk

Anatomical embroidery of the heart

Anatomical embroidery of the facial muscles

Anatomical embroidery of the female reproductive system

Anatomical embroidery of the nerves of the hand

Anatomical embroidery of the inner ear with cochlea

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Kate Wilson
Community Member
5 years ago

THIS is what taking back control looks like. When you have a physical, or indeed any sort of, ailment, it can become all that defines you. Or your physical appearance is how others define you. Creating these sorts of images gives the creator, the viewer, and the owner more knowledge, more control. And they are gorgeous. Have a feeling that I have rambled rather, but I love this work. Know yourself through embroidery. Why not?

Community Member
5 years ago

Kate, that is a lovely thing to write and I agree completely that knowledge is power too. A few times, during my hospital stays, docs thanked me for taking such an interest in what they were doing which shocked me. Yet they said so many people would rather not know and just allow things to be done to them instead, thereby treating the health issue as something to be suffered rather than involved in. Lordy! If my embroidery means I haven't done that, then all the better.

Load More Replies...
Diane Martin Cbe
Community Member
5 years ago

I love your work so much, it's so varied. These wonderful anatomical embroideries are fantastic on so many levels, the intricacy, the education, the skill, colour's and texture and the delight at how beautiful they are. They are so original. I didn't realise until reading this, the connection to your experience of facial surgery as that was not the first one I saw. Trust you to birth art from what must have been such a challenging journey. Oh no, I said 'journey' I sound like I'm on Britain's got talent. Well you've got talent and it's great that it was therapeutic for you. I love all of your work, I love your wordsmithery and how funny you are. Just wonderful! Diane Martin

Community Member
5 years ago

Diane, you utter star. Thank you. The weird thing about doing this embroidery is my addiction to everything anatomical. I recently discussed further surgery with my consultant and even though I don't need the surgery right now part of me wanted it so I could immerse myself in the anatomical tweakings again.

Load More Replies...
Phemonoe 153
Community Member
5 years ago

The colors! The shading! The textures! What a beautiful medium to use to create these! I hope your surgeries have gone well and are (mostly?) behind you. Please keep sharing them over time, i look forward to seeing what else you come up with

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much Phemonoe 153! It's a joy to create these and fascinating to find stitches that replicate the organs' textures.

Load More Replies...
Louise Foyster
Community Member
4 years ago

These are so amazing 😍😍 I want to get my embroidery kit out now!

MacacoMonkey
Community Member
4 years ago

You are such a talented artist!

craftsandcramps
Community Member
5 years ago

It is amazing what people can create with embroidery! These are so strong & detailed! Thank you so much for sharing!

Rin Hamburgh
Community Member
5 years ago

Genius!

Angela Williams
Community Member
5 years ago

Hey Cath, You need to know that, you have an amazing skill that has come out of your adversity with Bell's Palsy..I too am facinated by amatomy and dissection...your creations are breathtaking...hope your recovery is near for you..Very well done..sending love to and respect to you..xxx

Community Member
5 years ago

Angela, that is a lovely thing to say. Thank you. I have a few more surgeries to go (if I choose) but being able to have detailed convos about anatomy with my consultant makes them all worth it!

Load More Replies...
Susan Forbes
Community Member
5 years ago

WOW! Beautifully rendered!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you Susan.

Load More Replies...
Amy Irving
Community Member
5 years ago

Fantastic stuff! All the time put into them really pays off - they're stunning!

Community Member
5 years ago

Amy, thank you. They take hours of detailed work but then BOOM! I stand back at the end and it really is worth every second.

Load More Replies...
sexy_scorpio_3MD
Community Member
5 years ago

This is amazing! Being a M.D., I know the intricacies are captured beautifully here! Great job!!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much! That means such a lot.

Load More Replies...
Cathy Winston
Community Member
5 years ago

These are the most amazing artworks - incredible detail and what a way to turn a less than fun hospital stay into something so creative and positive.

Community Member
5 years ago

Cathy! Thank you for taking the time to say such utter loveliness.

Load More Replies...
Larne Feeney-Miles
Community Member
5 years ago

Stunning work!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much Larne.

Load More Replies...
Tana Poor
Community Member
5 years ago

These are amazing! The level of detail is incredible. Sad circumstances to start but wow so awesome!

Community Member
5 years ago

Tana, thank you. The circs have been hard but are now such a source of anatomical fascination that I'm good with it!

Load More Replies...
Sarah Maddrell
Community Member
5 years ago

Fabulous embroidery I love all your work sewing and writing keep doing what you do 😀

Community Member
5 years ago

Sarah, THANK YOU.

Load More Replies...
Emma Hopkins
Community Member
5 years ago

So interesting, unusual and down right talented!

Community Member
5 years ago

Much like your good self!

Load More Replies...
Jo Martin
Community Member
5 years ago

Fabulous work and so interesting to look at.

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you Jo!

Load More Replies...
Annie Corbin
Community Member
5 years ago

Amazing detail, wonderful craftsmanship and such talent!!!!! Love them!!!!

Community Member
5 years ago

Annie, that is a lovely thing to say.

Load More Replies...
Wendy Mellows
Community Member
5 years ago

Brilliant article. You never fail to inspire me, as an artist and as a person xx

Community Member
5 years ago

Oh Wendy. That's lovely. Thank you!

Load More Replies...
Claire Ffoulkes-Jones
Community Member
5 years ago

Wow, simply stunning

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much Claire!

Load More Replies...
Mel Toms
Community Member
5 years ago

who knows when inspiration will strike?

Community Member
5 years ago

Innit, though? This is what happens when hospital entertainment runs thin.

Load More Replies...
Jennie Morris
Community Member
5 years ago

Woah! I love these!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you Jennie!

Load More Replies...
Caro Moses
Community Member
5 years ago

It's a fabulous subject for embroidery. Brilliant and unusual.

Community Member
5 years ago

Caro, you angel. Thank you lovely girl.

Load More Replies...
Louise Foyster
Community Member
5 years ago

Absolutely amazing!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you Louise!

Load More Replies...
Kate Wilson
Community Member
5 years ago

THIS is what taking back control looks like. When you have a physical, or indeed any sort of, ailment, it can become all that defines you. Or your physical appearance is how others define you. Creating these sorts of images gives the creator, the viewer, and the owner more knowledge, more control. And they are gorgeous. Have a feeling that I have rambled rather, but I love this work. Know yourself through embroidery. Why not?

Community Member
5 years ago

Kate, that is a lovely thing to write and I agree completely that knowledge is power too. A few times, during my hospital stays, docs thanked me for taking such an interest in what they were doing which shocked me. Yet they said so many people would rather not know and just allow things to be done to them instead, thereby treating the health issue as something to be suffered rather than involved in. Lordy! If my embroidery means I haven't done that, then all the better.

Load More Replies...
Diane Martin Cbe
Community Member
5 years ago

I love your work so much, it's so varied. These wonderful anatomical embroideries are fantastic on so many levels, the intricacy, the education, the skill, colour's and texture and the delight at how beautiful they are. They are so original. I didn't realise until reading this, the connection to your experience of facial surgery as that was not the first one I saw. Trust you to birth art from what must have been such a challenging journey. Oh no, I said 'journey' I sound like I'm on Britain's got talent. Well you've got talent and it's great that it was therapeutic for you. I love all of your work, I love your wordsmithery and how funny you are. Just wonderful! Diane Martin

Community Member
5 years ago

Diane, you utter star. Thank you. The weird thing about doing this embroidery is my addiction to everything anatomical. I recently discussed further surgery with my consultant and even though I don't need the surgery right now part of me wanted it so I could immerse myself in the anatomical tweakings again.

Load More Replies...
Phemonoe 153
Community Member
5 years ago

The colors! The shading! The textures! What a beautiful medium to use to create these! I hope your surgeries have gone well and are (mostly?) behind you. Please keep sharing them over time, i look forward to seeing what else you come up with

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much Phemonoe 153! It's a joy to create these and fascinating to find stitches that replicate the organs' textures.

Load More Replies...
Louise Foyster
Community Member
4 years ago

These are so amazing 😍😍 I want to get my embroidery kit out now!

MacacoMonkey
Community Member
4 years ago

You are such a talented artist!

craftsandcramps
Community Member
5 years ago

It is amazing what people can create with embroidery! These are so strong & detailed! Thank you so much for sharing!

Rin Hamburgh
Community Member
5 years ago

Genius!

Angela Williams
Community Member
5 years ago

Hey Cath, You need to know that, you have an amazing skill that has come out of your adversity with Bell's Palsy..I too am facinated by amatomy and dissection...your creations are breathtaking...hope your recovery is near for you..Very well done..sending love to and respect to you..xxx

Community Member
5 years ago

Angela, that is a lovely thing to say. Thank you. I have a few more surgeries to go (if I choose) but being able to have detailed convos about anatomy with my consultant makes them all worth it!

Load More Replies...
Susan Forbes
Community Member
5 years ago

WOW! Beautifully rendered!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you Susan.

Load More Replies...
Amy Irving
Community Member
5 years ago

Fantastic stuff! All the time put into them really pays off - they're stunning!

Community Member
5 years ago

Amy, thank you. They take hours of detailed work but then BOOM! I stand back at the end and it really is worth every second.

Load More Replies...
sexy_scorpio_3MD
Community Member
5 years ago

This is amazing! Being a M.D., I know the intricacies are captured beautifully here! Great job!!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much! That means such a lot.

Load More Replies...
Cathy Winston
Community Member
5 years ago

These are the most amazing artworks - incredible detail and what a way to turn a less than fun hospital stay into something so creative and positive.

Community Member
5 years ago

Cathy! Thank you for taking the time to say such utter loveliness.

Load More Replies...
Larne Feeney-Miles
Community Member
5 years ago

Stunning work!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much Larne.

Load More Replies...
Tana Poor
Community Member
5 years ago

These are amazing! The level of detail is incredible. Sad circumstances to start but wow so awesome!

Community Member
5 years ago

Tana, thank you. The circs have been hard but are now such a source of anatomical fascination that I'm good with it!

Load More Replies...
Sarah Maddrell
Community Member
5 years ago

Fabulous embroidery I love all your work sewing and writing keep doing what you do 😀

Community Member
5 years ago

Sarah, THANK YOU.

Load More Replies...
Emma Hopkins
Community Member
5 years ago

So interesting, unusual and down right talented!

Community Member
5 years ago

Much like your good self!

Load More Replies...
Jo Martin
Community Member
5 years ago

Fabulous work and so interesting to look at.

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you Jo!

Load More Replies...
Annie Corbin
Community Member
5 years ago

Amazing detail, wonderful craftsmanship and such talent!!!!! Love them!!!!

Community Member
5 years ago

Annie, that is a lovely thing to say.

Load More Replies...
Wendy Mellows
Community Member
5 years ago

Brilliant article. You never fail to inspire me, as an artist and as a person xx

Community Member
5 years ago

Oh Wendy. That's lovely. Thank you!

Load More Replies...
Claire Ffoulkes-Jones
Community Member
5 years ago

Wow, simply stunning

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you so much Claire!

Load More Replies...
Mel Toms
Community Member
5 years ago

who knows when inspiration will strike?

Community Member
5 years ago

Innit, though? This is what happens when hospital entertainment runs thin.

Load More Replies...
Jennie Morris
Community Member
5 years ago

Woah! I love these!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you Jennie!

Load More Replies...
Caro Moses
Community Member
5 years ago

It's a fabulous subject for embroidery. Brilliant and unusual.

Community Member
5 years ago

Caro, you angel. Thank you lovely girl.

Load More Replies...
Louise Foyster
Community Member
5 years ago

Absolutely amazing!

Community Member
5 years ago

Thank you Louise!

Load More Replies...
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