Friday, July 11, 2014

Embroidery process

Some photos as we were embroidering the Paulette, Vogue and Eye on the Coconut pieces including the watercolour sketch we started off with. With the Paulette job we had to sew at a quite a small scale, about half a cm high for the small type

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

New work

Just finished up an animation project that has kept us busy for the last month and a bit which meant less updates and instagramming. Probably a good thing! Hoping to share some behind the scenes and process behind the animations and prop building but it will take a while to gather those images so in the meantime I thought I better do a quick update on our website with some of the embroidery work we've done lately.

We were asked to create some custom lettering for Vogue Japan which was pretty bloody exciting. Huge thanks to our agents at Building Tokyo and Handsome Frank for the project. And in other magazine related work we embroidered lettering for the cover of French magazine Paulette and their Romantique issue. The mood board we were given was lace, white and Virgin Suicides. It was tricky knowing the type would appear against a very light airy image and the first time we've had to composite our embroidery onto a photographic image but it turned out well I think.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Sorry a bit of a belated Easter post. Easter has come and gone but we still have chocolate eggs in the fridge so it's not too late I reckon.

This year Ava was old enough for her first egg hunt and we wanted to do something special so we decorated some eggs that we'll be able to keep for future egg hunts. Through instagram I discovered some wonderful blank wooden eggs that are also hollow which will be perfect for hiding extra treasures when Ava's a little older. Last time I attempted painting decorations (the Christmas wreath) I got a bit caught up figuring out patterns and designs so this time around I tried to be loose. Also couldn't leave out some animal heads for Ava who loves copying their different noises. I couldn't have all the fun so we also some together. Getting the paints off her after that was really hard!

Speaking of round things, Ava's been in wonderland with house full of giant sized balls and boxes for a project Maricor has been working on with friends of ours. They're for a series of concerts later this year for Justine Clarke's 'I Am A ... Band' Tour. Which Maricor has also done the poster artwork for.  If you follow our instagram you'll see some more of the process pics maybe a few of us going a bit kookoo after some long nights.  PS it looks freakishly convincing but that isn't Ava under that ball just some of her clothes with stuffing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

DC x PMU shirt collab

It's Pick Me Up time again for you lucky folks in London. We took part last year as one of their Selects and are taking part again this time through the DC x PMU shirt collaboration. They've asked a hugely talented line up of artists to create graphics, so we're pretty humbled to be included. Our shirt graphic is based on the hand embroidered lettering below.

The shirts launched exclusively at the festival and will be available for purchase there before being sold in participating stores. The festival runs until the 5th of May, info can be found on their website. Our agents Handsome Frank are also returning with their pop up gallery/shop selling artwork and running workshops. We've created a new embroidery for Eye on the Coconut, which is available to purchase as an A3 giclee poster.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


It's no secret we're plant nerds. We've come to it relatively recently which may explain why we're a bit obsessive about it at the moment. Lithops, tillandsias, cacti and succulents and now calatheas have invaded and steadily taken over every available surface inside and out. We had a mini disaster the other week when my precious lithops seedling that I had patiently been growing for 4 months tipped onto the floor. I tried to be as delicate as possible when I re-potted them but there have been many casualties already. I did manage to take some nice photos though of the tiny babies. You can see most are only about the size of a pinhead after 4 months.

If only I had as much interest in my vegetable garden!

Friday, March 28, 2014


Hello we cropped up onto a few press recently and wanted to say a huge thank you to Embroidery Magazine in the UK, French magazine ├ętapes and Habitus magazine for including and sharing our work with their readers.

You can read a short interview on the Habitus blog and some photos of our workspace. We talked to Jo Hall at Embroidery magazine which is published by the Embroiderers' Guild about our process and how we got started in embroidery. You can see some of the spreads below. It was a real pleasure talking with Jo, thank you for such a great feature!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Studio visit - Leonor Barreiro

About a month ago we had a lovely visit from Leonor Barreiro, a fellow embroidered from Argentina. This was actually her second visit to our studio. Leonor was in Australia travelling and visiting family for a few months and stopped by our studio before Christmas for a quick hello and chat over tea and cake. But this second time around we had organised to have a sewing afternoon. It's something we dearly miss, having the banter of many people in the studio. Maricor and I are so used to each other's company after a lifetime that we can go hours without saying anything. Especially if there's a deadline to hit.

Leonor's work is amazing. It's intricate and delicate and it was a real pleasure to see it up close. She was working on a piece that I had earlier seen a progress photo online (the black background piece) but it was really amazing seeing the physical piece. I thought our stitches were tiny but hers are on another level!

Leonor also told us about the sewing circle she works with back home in Argentina, Rita Smirna. The group grew organically from the students she learnt with while doing embroidery workshops. They have a great blog at, which unfortunately doesn't look like it has been updated lately. But their past posts are worth looking at to get a feel of the collaborative works they create.

Leonor describes how the group will often work on one piece together. Each member adding their own embroidery onto what has been stitched before, similar to a exquisite corpse artwork. We were very lucky to take part in our own small sewing circle with Leonor. She explained the 'rules' they usually use to help having a "blank canvas" less daunting. They collectively decide on a colour palette as well as a handful of stitch styles to keep a level of continuity across the embroideries.

The photos below show you what we ended up with. It's interesting to see that while we all worked with the same colours each work is quite distinct and has a totally different tone. It was really enjoyable having this freedom to experiment, to let our needles meander and let something grow without a plan or design. It's very different to how we have to work commercially where there isn't a lot of time to experiment. But it's a catch22. Experimentation keeps us motivated and open to new inspirations and ideas, which we'll often feed back into our commercial work so we need to remember every now and then to free ourselves and start with an empty square of cloth.

PS. Leonor also very kindly gifted us some sewing supplies she sells through her line 'ele'. It has the most lovely vintage thread that i've now become obsessed with sourcing online. They're called cordonnet and if anyone knows where to find these we'd really appreciate your help!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Meanjin - process

The Meanjin cover we embroidered last year was easily one of our most enjoyable commissions to date. We were able to explore our growing plant nerd-dom plus reimagine the traditional embroidery motif of florals. When Zora the editor of Meanjin first contacted us about working on this issue, the brief was both simple and complex. This issue was unofficially a women’s issue with content provided by female writers. Our brief was to use our embroidery to play on the idea of “women’s work” but other than that the Zora was happy for us to propose anything that fit within that broad scope. The challenge was to avoid clich├ęs and not be superficial in our message.

We presented a few ideas, one of which was to subvert traditional motifs and in place of pretty daisies and roses, embroider fleshy, gruesome plants (or Frankenflowers as we grew to call them while sewing).

We've posted some of our process below. Firstly some rough initial sketches we presented with our first round concept. We didn't sketch a layout for this stage but provided a written treatment outlining our idea along with some support imagery showing how the plants could look. We proposed toothy flowers as well as scrotum buds, and amazingly got the go ahead on everything.

After the concept got the go ahead we started collecting some reference material for the Frankenflwoers. As you can imagine we had a lot of fun researching weird, unusual and gross looking plants. The last preview we sent to the client was a coloured tight sketch which you can compare to the finished piece. Since embroidery is so time consuming changes after the final coloured sketch is approved is rare and usually requires some extra time for the delivery schedule. The coloured tight sketch we present to clients shows them exactly how the embroidery will look so that they'll be comfortable giving a final go ahead. It shows composition and colour but not texture which is something we can build organically as we embroider. For instance we introduced a lot more dimensional stitching techniques in this project to give extra movement and depth to the flowers. We padded out the stitching to create a fat stem for the lower hero flower and added hairlike red fringes on the conophytum inspired globular flowers. We also loosened some of stitching and instead of completely filling in shapes showed some of the black background fabric to imitate shading.

We’re often asked how our embroidery sits within contemporary illustration and we usually struggle to eloquently answer this. I’m really happy we were able to create this piece because it represents what we try to do with our work. Embroidery is an age old medium but like any other technique or mark making medium - like painting or drawing - it can evolve. We try to add a different perspective to the craft with our work and see how much of its tactility we can exploit.

Summer daze

We've been making the most of the warm weather lately and going down to the beach whenever we can. We usually go to Balmoral (it has a great baby/toddler pool) and the side we usually go to is quite calm and shallow for a fair bit. Which is great for me as I don't really know how to swim so I can walk out a little and float! We've been so often that Ava is finally liking water and now walks happily with us towards the water rather than screaming like a banshee :)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Website updates

Hello! Hope you all had a great holiday break. We've had a sluggish start to the year in the studio trying to get psyched up for 2014. It's just so hard to focus when the house heats up like an oven and the beach beckons!

We're trying to get through the last bits on our 2013 to do lists and can finally cross off 'update our website' which sadly hadn't been shown much attention since this time last year. There are too many projects to fit on the homepage. But if you visit the Tactiles page you'll be able to see all the new projects

We enjoyed working on some pretty fun and challenging projects last year and it was particularly exciting for us to try some new techniques such as goldwork, patchworking and paper embroidery. Hopefully you enjoy the new work as well!

We've also had a bit of clear out in the studio. Well mainly just shuffled one pile of clutter to another corner of the table... but we have managed to go through our back catalogue of embroidered work and have a few old and newish ones up for sale on our etsy shop.

I've got some summer photos to post up as well as some process behind our Menajin cover. Will hopefully have those up on the blog next week.

The photos above show the Christmas lettering and graphics we created for Shinsegae department store in South Korea and their holiday campaign. We documented our process which was then edited into a behind the scenes making of video. Photos courtesy of the Shinsegae design team.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Desktop Magazine "Neue Folk"

The November issue of Desktop magazine is out now and includes a feature on us as well as a special embossed front cover of one of our embroideries commissioned for the issue. The issue is called Neue Folk and looks at traditional skills and techniques used by designers today. We're very honoured to be included in the issue and share pages with some of our favourite artisan designers such as Will Edmonds and Hannah Waldron.

The cover went through a couple of versions and we must thank Bonnie Abbott for her input who pushed us to experiment more with the analogue glitch effect you see on the front cover. We played around with a similar illustration style for our recent Maps exhibition collateral but with this graphic we really wanted to create a glitch effect with the overlapping patterns and intersecting threads. We've colour mixed in our fabric based embroideries in the past but it was a real challenge achieving a similar effect on paper. Maricor worked on a few tests and luckily came up with a solution that we were both excited with. The bottom three images are detail shots of the physical embroideries showing some of the overlapping stitches we used to create the colour mixing.

The magazine also features an embroidered masthead and shows the front and back of the designs. The issue is available now at newstands/bookstores. Thank you also to Heath Killen, Desktop Magazine's outgoing editor who originally commissioned us.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Art by Design 9

Art by Design is happening again at the Wedge Gallery at Books Kinokuniya here in Sydney. We have a few bits and bobs on display and for sale including this new embroidered monogram which we stitched during our Studio Pop Ups stint at the Powerhouse earlier this year. The exhibition runs now until November 25 and features some very lovely work including paper cuts by Cecilia Mok, cute knitted characters by Jake Henzler and beautiful silk scarves by Happy End Designs.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Plants and things

I started writing this post a few weeks back while we were in the middle of a big (for us) project. I had planned for it to be a bit of a wrap-up of the things that had happened over the months since our last proper post but the original draft doesn't make as much sense now. But to boil it down it was mainly a bit of a guilty whinge about being so busy. Guilty because I always feel a little ungrateful complaining when we're busy with work as goodness knows how anxious we feel when we're not busy! And I seem to have tempted fate. Now that we have a bit of a breather studio-wise we're both back to worrying again. Blerg it's a never ending cycle.

Things that have been making us happy lately though are finishing off the Christmas project that kept us occupied for the last 2 months and occupied a huge chunk of my loungeroom/kitchen. I'm very glad not to be finding gold thread in every nook and cranny now (eg daughter's nappy??). We had very sparkly dust bunnies last month:)

Other things in no specific order:

- Taking part in the Sydney Design Studio Pop Ups at the Powerhouse. This was the first time we'd tried holding a market stall (not counting our garage sales) so it was a huge learning experience for us. It was wonderful demonstrating some embroidery techniques to the people that visited our stall, especially the two young visitors we had who blitzed through the beginner stitches we showed them and were keen to learn more.

- Spending the long weekend up the coast at Smiths Lakes which included a walk across the lake, gourmet breakfasts and meals thanks to our friends, lots of sun and did I mention the breakfasts? It was the first time I'd tried blue cheese french toast, I was a bit dubious at first but was a surprise convert.

- Air plants. If you follow our instagram feed you may have noticed a bit of tillandsia love. Sorry for all the plant posts but we have both become obsessed.  A few weeks back we went to the Mr Kitly x Dagamar Rousset Sydney pop up and added some new plants to our collection. Sadly I showered some of mine with too much love (water) and half of them died of rot. I've learnt my lesson since then and promise to take better care (give them some space) of the new dudes I picked up at the Bromeliad/Tillandsia fair.

- Cactus and Succulents. Sorry more plant talk but the C&S Society are holding their Spring show on the 26th of October and i'm coming prepared with my own box this time. We're working on a flower themed magazine cover at the moment, if i'm not embroidering flowers i'm looking up lithops and tillandsia.

- We're contributing some work to the upcoming Art by Design 9 group show at Wedge Gallery, Kinokuniya. I think the opening night is Oct 31 and t will run until Nov 25.

- An interview and spread in House and Garden as part of their Sister Act article in the October issue. It was lovely meeting Elizabeth who wrote the article and it was a thrill seeing our studio included amongst their beautiful pages. We were madly trying to clean up the house ahead of the shoot but made the rookie mistake of shoving everything under our studio table which inevitably was in frame. We had to haul everything out mid shoot causing a minor dust storm.

- And lastly some very lovely and kind write ups on thisispaper, Kaleidoscope blog and the Fox is Black. Special thank you to Amanda from Kaleidoscope blog who saw us at our first ever talk at Field Trip last year, we were so nervous before and after the talk to watch over the tape of it but since you still wanted to write about us I hope that means we didn't mumble/make an arse of ourselves too much!