Organic Embroidery by Meredith Woolnough

When I happened across one of Australian artist Meredith Woolnough‘s amazing yellow Ginko thread sculptures on Pinterest last week, I knew I had to follow up. To my delight, I discovered that she has just published a book:

BUY: Organic Embroidery

It’s always instructive to peek at an artist’s process. The book begins with an intimate look at Meredith’s fieldwork practice and journalling. There are lots of practical hints and tips for drawing in the field; like carrying a small water-colour set to record the colours of specimens that might fade or be misrepresented by photographs.

Meredith makes detailed drawings of her botanical and oceanic subjects, and includes habitat and form notations that allow her to accurately identify her specimens. She states “Drawing something is always better than simply taking a photo of it. Drawing forces you to focus, slow down, and think deeply … the intense observation helps to develop a clearer understanding of your subject” (p. 34). However, there are times when photography adds to the overall picture of the subject, and Meredith describes in detail how to photograph a specimen for future reference. This aspect really appealed to the scientist in me, and cast me back to drawing in biology in university!

The bulk of the book deals with Meredith’s techniques for rendering her artworks in thread. She stitches dense connected lines and delicate details with her sewing machine on water-soluable stabiliser which is then dissolved and molded.

I have been exposed to this technique in several workshops over the years, so this is not new; and those proficient in free-motion machine quilting will pick up the sewing technique in a flash.. However, in this book, the reader benefits from Meredith’s years of experimentation to receive a well-developed set of instructions, as well as masses of tips and troubleshooting advice. I found the colour-blending section (p. 112 – 119) fascinating, and will definitely utilise Meredith’s technique of making a “colour blend grid” to create a reference swatch showing the interactions of threads in top and bobbin of the work. One of Meredith’s key findings is that colours blend more effectively on the ‘wrong side’ of the piece, and she uses this side as the front of her final artwork.

Once the work is stitched, the dissolving process begins. I am itching to try Meredith’s molding process, to transform flat embroideries into spherical shapes. You can see how this enhances the work in Meredith’s 2017 work, The New Neighbours:

This book is incredibly inspirational and instructive.


Woolnough, Meredith. (2015) ‘Golden Ginko Square’ in Meredith Woolnough: Visual Artist
Viewed:, 4 July, 2018

Woolnough, Meredith. (2016) ‘Red Coral’ in Meredith Woolnough: Visual Artist
Viewed:, 4 July, 2018

Woolnough, Meredith. (2017) ‘The New Neighbours’ in Meredith Woolnough: Visual Artist
Viewed:, 4 July, 2018

Woolnough, Meredith. (2018) Organic Embroidery
Schiffeer Books: Arglen, PA

Woolnough, Meredith. (2018) ‘Book’ in Meredith Woolnough: Visual Artist
Viewed:, 4 July, 2018