Artist Suspends Thread Art From Ceilings

Canadian artist Amanda McCavour’s stitched creations showcase just what thread can become in a pair of skilled hands. Take “Living Room,” a collection of furniture, wall décor, even a pile of suitcases, all made out of thread and suspended from the ceiling with precise perspective, so you’d swear you could sit in the chair, slip on the pair of shoes, drink from the mug on the side table. Or consider her floating “Neon Bloom” installation, a collection of hundreds of flower-shaped pieces made of thread.

Photo Credit: Aleyah Solomon

“I’ve always been making things,” says McCavour from her Toronto studio. “When I was little, my mom always brought a box of stuff along everywhere we went so I could keep busy.” It became clear early on that McCavour would go into art as a career, and she started out in drawing and printmaking as an undergraduate in Canada. But then, in 2007, she discovered the myriad possibilities with thread. Her time as an artist-in-residence at Harbourfront Centre’s Textile Studio in Toronto solidified her decision to move into textiles, and in 2014, she received her MFA in Fibers and Material Studies at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.

To begin one of her installations, McCavour first sketches it out on an 8.5” x 11” piece of tracing paper, to determine perspective. Once satisfied on a small scale, she draws the components life-size and hangs them on her studio wall to make sure they “jive.” She then makes a line drawing onto water-soluble Solvy stabilizer, and sews a net-like layer of loose white stitches. Working from light to dark colors, she then shades it in with back-and-forth stitching, similar to cross-hatching in sketching. Once the stabilizer is dissolved in water, she irons the pieces, and packs them up to be shipped to the gallery for installation.

Amanda McCavour created “Neon Blooms” and “Living Room” using machine embroidery.

“I’m always trying to figure out how little I can sew and still make sure it holds together,” she says. “I found it really doesn’t need all that much. Thread looks light and delicate, but it’s actually super-strong. My work looks like it’s floating, but 10 people couldn’t tear it apart.”

In addition to her various exhibits and workshops, McCavour is currently sponsored by Bernina of America. She recently received a 780 digital embroidery machine from the company, which, along with a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, she’s using to experiment with digital embroidery and how it can inform her art. “I’m in the research stage at this point, but I’m very interested in digitizing,” she says. “It still needs a human touch, and you need to be able to tweak things with the stitch. I’m still trying to determine if it’s a language I want to learn.”       

Follow Amanda McCavour on Instagram @amandamccavour and on Facebook at facebook.com/amandamccavourart.