Takahiro Harada, president of Harada Embroidery in Japan, turned his childhood love of insects into art, creating freestanding ladybugs, ants and other creatures out of embroidery for an Osaka department store in 2010.
Since then the “Ikimono Series” has been exhibited in Paris, New York and Tokyo, and orders for the lifelike embroidered insects poured in from shops in France and Belgium.
Harada Embroidery has been in business since the 1970s, but has struggled in recent years as clothing production shifted out of Japan and into countries like China. Harada told Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun that he wanted to show off his company’s technical capabilities by focusing on small pieces. Harada studied ladybugs and other insects, considering which embroidery techniques and machinery would work best to create replicas with bendable leg joints. Through trial and error, he created five or six styles, including an ant less than an inch long. The series has grown to around 30 creatures; it has raised the company’s profile with the public and has even brought in more orders for conventional embroidery projects, Harada says.