Examining cross stitch portraits, samplers and the like as an art form can divisive. With your image already technically 'finished' before you start sewing, many feel it is a past time in the very literal sense of being something to pass the time. As with any form of creativity though, what creativity you get out depends on how much you put in, and we've seen countless examples that easily support this.

One of our recent discoveries that affirmed our faith in our favourite craftform's potential was West Richland, Washington based artist Nathan Plung's exquisite cross stitch portraits.

These photo-realistic renditions of famous figures, from Einstein to Picasso, move away from the needlework's traditional image to produce works with individuality, beautiful precision and poetic artistry. Born with cerebral palsy, Nathan originally took up cross stitch as a way of improving his motor skills. On his personal profile he says:

"My goal is to establish cross-stitch as a legitimate art form. Each piece I create is entirely by hand, from the initial step of defining the image through the thousands of stitches that comprise each work."

Nathan's work will be showcased at the Agora Gallery in New York City till July 1st. You can see more of his work on his artist page.

Marvelling at Nathan's work though made us want to revisit this soul-gazing subject. We'd previously written a blog on the appeal of portraiture cross stitch, but since then we've seen so much and added many more on our own store that we need to talk about a few more. From the hand-decorated vintage photos of Stacey Page, a counted transcribe of the famous 'Mouth Flower' illusion by Octavio Ocampo or the mind-blowing realism of Cayce Zavaglia's work, whether or not they're actually cross stitch they use embroidery to enhance and trance with their brilliance. 

Portraiture cross stitch kits break down the immediate details we associate and recognize in people. In the case of people who were able to immortalize themselves with distinctive mannerisms, expressions and clothing styles, they remain iconic even when reduced to a single shade of colour. As the 'icons' kits by DMC demonstrated, the greats of Hollywood - Monroe, Hepburn, Garbo and Dean - can still be recognized when rendered in vintage sepia tones.

As we spotlighted in our previous blog on portraits, the elegant looking ladies of Dimensions' Elegance collection continue to enchant us with each new addition. Though the kits we examined last time were up close and personal ,these slightly more far-back images still retain the essentials: eyes, posture and language. Despite posing without an elaborate background, their entire character, class and culture is evoked through elaborate costumes and a subtle demeanour.

These three full length portrait kits, meanwhile, fully realize the concept with the complete outfit and setting to match. Whether or not it's more impressive to leave less or more to the imagination of the viewer, the Elegance series artist John Clayton uses every shade, fold and curve to his advantage to create unforgettable masterpieces of modern cross stitching.

Are there any cross stitch (or other needlecraft) portraits you've seen around the web that you absolutely have to share? You can do just that by posting them in the comments below, or by linking them on our Facebook page, Twitter and Google+.


Post By Graham Ashton