Trace : The Embroidered Art of Michele Carragher
This comprehensive insight into her work guides you from her initial ideas, right through to the finished, astonishing pieces of work, collectively titled Trace.
Rich in symbolism and drawing inspiration from throughout history, the book contains three created, embroidered artefacts: a lavish glove, jewelled bodice and Japanese-style hair pin. From these she extracts a narrative which becomes the basis for three embroidered artworks, exploring themes of human duality and our behavioural effects on society and the planet. The book begins with an immersive, exquisitely photographed gallery tour of all the pieces, showcasing Michele's work in incredible detail. Following on from this, each artefact and artwork is discussed in detail, giving insight into the working process, creative choices and techniques used.
Michele has worked for many years in the film and TV industry, including as Costume Embroiderer for HBO's Game of Thrones, and HBO's 2005 Emmy award winning production of Elizabeth I. The last chapter of the book features a selection of images from her inspiring catalogue of work.
- Hardback | 176 pages
- 216 x 280 x 17mm | 972g
- 12 Oct 2021
- Search Press Ltd
- Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
- 400 Illustrations, color
Table of contents
Most of us will be familiar with the materials that Michele uses but she gives us new insights into the effects we can achieve with them. The first fifty pages are mostly shots of three art pieces and, while there is a degree of repetition, it is useful to be able to view each piece from many angles.
This section is followed by 'The Artist's Insight' in which Michele describes how to find inspiration. She is a big fan of museums and I'm with her there. She says that with her costume work, she delves into the past to give her insight into a character's background. Anyone who has seen her Game of Thrones costumes will know how well she succeeded. The next section of the book describes in detail three artefacts: a 'gauntlet', a stomacher and a hair ornament. The first of these is an Elizabethan-inspired jewelled and embroidered glove and I love the fact that she not only made the love but placed it on a beautiful background suited to the period. There are descriptions here of the process of making the glove, not step-by-step but sufficient for an avid stitcher to pick up lots of ideas.
You will find many fascinating insets in this section of the book, describing how she has used these techniques for costumes in cinema and television series. The next piece described is a poor fallen robin with amazing wings formed using real feathers on a needle-felted base. 'All That Glitters' is a piece depicting a dappled glade with a marten's head. There is a description of the techniques used. For instance, the use of a glided 'cage' placed over a base and covered with stitching, gives an amazing effect. For this Michelle uses traditional goldwork techniques, as you can see in this close-up photo. Her photos show the detail really well.
Throughout the book, there are delightful little panels headed 'Working Insights' which tell stories about how she came to discover techniques used for particular series and pieces of work. There are further descriptions of pieces, all wonderful. The jewelled 'skeletons' of birds, shown below, deserve special mention and the delightful Kingfisher, shown on the cover, gives the reader the chance to explore, in close-up, the techniques used. A final section on costumes from the Game of Thrones series is the icing on the cake.
All through writing this review, I was thinking of my late friend Jane Lemon who produced such amazing goldwork pieces. Although she could work to strictly traditional guidelines for her altar frontals, Jane's 'off-duty' work and three-dimensional pieces were ahead of her time. Jane would have loved this book, just as much as I do. -- Maggie Grey * WOWBooks * Trace is a comprehensive insight into Michele's work, it guides you from her initial ideas, right through to the finished, astonishing pieces of work, collectively titled Trace. Rich in symbolism and drawing inspiration from throughout history, the book contains three created, embroidered artefacts: a lavish glove, jewelled bodice and Japanese-style hairpin. From these she extracts a narrative which becomes the basis for three embroidered artworks, exploring the theme of duality. * Customer Review * Exquisitely detailed and sumptuously worked, Michele's embroidered art is breath-taking. This comprehensive insight into her work guides us from initial ideas to finished pieces. Michele has worked for many years in th film and TV industry, such as costume embroiderer for Games of Thrones and the Emmy award-winning Elizabeth I. The last chapter features images from her inspiring catalogue of work. -- Machine Knitting Monthly * Machine Knitting Monthly * What a gorgeous addition to any costumer or designers library! Exquisite photography. Michele walks you through her work with interesting detail. As a profession tambour beader and designer/seamstress for tv, film and live events let me assure you this book is a must have. -- Janet Gershenfeld * Amazon Customer Review * I love this beautifully illustrated and inspirational book. It made me immediately want to get get out my embroidery equipment! The book is divided into three sections. The first contains many stunning photographs of Michele's amazing artworks. The middle section is called "The Artist's Insight" and details the author's development of ideas and the creative process. I particularly enjoyed reading about the materials and methods used. The final section covers some of the fabulous TV and film costumes Michele has worked on, including the stunning Game of Thrones costumes. The whole book is beautifully illustrated and, I think, a "must have" for anyone interested in embroidery and costume. -- Beverley Chamberlain * Amazon * "WOW!" An exquisite coffee table book which you will pick up again and again, each time finding a new aspect to focus on. A book to give a little lift to your mood and stay in the memory. You may win the draw but it would be a very special Christmas gift. Even if you are not an embroiderer as an artist you will love this book.
The photography of these unbelievable gorgeous embroideries is quite breathtaking, described as a gallery tour and obviously involved a great deal of thinking to achieve the final results. It features three lavish artefacts.
A great deal of research went into producing each artefact, visiting museums and reading history to influence the final designs. The process is beautifully explained and a joy to read.
Michele Carragher is a contributor to the exquisite costumes, made for the "Game of Thrones" and gives an insight into the conception and making of costumes for this popular series. All beautifully photographed. Each costume featuring the embroideries involved, plus a description of input from other very talented artists. I found the reading quite fascinating, leading me on to read more about the materials used to achieve such amazing results.
This really is a very, very special book quite the most spectacular book we have ever had for our review. * International Journal of the Guild of Silk Painters * This book from beginning to end is full of stunning embroidery and excellent photography. Unusually it starts with a gallery of the artworks - All that glitters, Entropy and Conscience. These are beautifully photographed and show Michele's work in incredible detail; the more you look the more you see.
Museums have been a source of research and inspiration for her work. Using this knowledge Michele explores the symbolism and context of artefacts in relation to their place in history and their relevance today.
Unable to use original pieces she has created three artefacts The Hand, The Heart and The Head. Each of these is the centre of a tableau from which a narrative for the embroidered artworks develops. The artefacts and artwork are discussed in detail in the book.
Every page contains excellent photographs which support the text that gives an insight into Michele's working process, her creative choices and techniques used.
The descriptions that follow give an impression of the artefacts and artworks, which can only be appreciated by looking at the book.
The Hand is a jewelled, embroidered glove from the Elizabethan period (1558-1603) sometimes referred to as ''The Golden Age'. At this time a beautiful gauntlet glove could symbolise a love token, an object to gain favour or to grasp power.
The glove for this piece is of tan leather embellished with an embroidered cicada motif set in a stitched and beaded cuff; all worked in shades of brown, copper and turquoise. The glove is set above hexagonal tiles embroidered with flowers and moss. Three-dimensional flowers 'grow' from this base to the glove which is holding a dandelion seed head. As a contrast to the richness of the glove in the foreground of the tableau is a small fallen robin.
From this artwork, All that glitters was developed. It has as its centre a golden jewelled marten's head. The eyes on the head are made from synthetic London blue topaz and as you look at them they seem to look back at you! A forest floor has been created from cutwork foliage, amongst this is nestled the head with three-dimensional cicadas and stitched sycamore seeds.
Michele describes this marten's head as 'an ostentatious display of wealth, the trace left behind of a life lived and passed from one generation to the next; a self-serving inherited wealth.'
If you look very carefully at the photographs of this piece you can see a bony spine - all that is left!
The Heart artefact is a richly decorated stomacher on a corset of pale blue silk crepeline. Three jewelled bows that include small grey freshwater pearls, vintage sequins and Swarovski beads adorn the stomacher. The completed piece is suspended against a dark brown background over a blood-red carpet with very realistic created dead sparrows laying on it. Style and decoration on the stomacher suggest the great wealth of the French court which is a complete contrast to the sparrows; a scene evocative of the French Revolution.
Entropy is the artwork that comes from The Heart. This is a complex piece of work well-conceived and executed. Red is the predominant colour; it is the colour of desire and blood.
Against a background of the dark thunderous sky are two exotic birds. Each of these is half a bird needle felted with added stitch and feathers used for detail. Tiny red beads are added to the neck to represent the blood of the French Revolution. A stone heart is held by the birds surrounded by stitch and beads.
The reverse of this scene is very different. Agaibst a blood-red background are two jewelled skeletal birds which have been made to fit inside the half birds but are displayed on their own. These birds symbolise how wealth stays with those who have it. Beaded and stitched fireworks enhance this scene.
The idea of the French revolution is followed through in this piece as it is effectively in two pieces that reference the guillotine.
The final artefact is a Japanese hairpin (kanzashi) which symbolises The Head. It is from the late 19th century and this was a time in which Japan was being influenced by the West and its traditional society and environment were changing.
A kanzashi is a love token, Using mostly purple, browns and splashes of orange the centrepiece for this one is a beautifully embroidered three-dimensional butterfly that sits on top of jewelled flowers.
The pin is displayed with the pin pushed into a frozen lake of embroidered organza against a dark fabric backdrop with more three-dimensional butterflies that look as if they are flying away from the pin.
The tableau for The Head is dark and symbolises clouded vision and a loss of moral conscience.
The development of ideas for the artwork Conscience continues the Japanese themes with Michele taking inspiration from the stitched layers of Boro textiles.
This tableau is dark with a background of stitched layers to represent starlings in flight. A cleverly coloured base of Perspex with stitched outlines of sycamore leaves on organza form a deep dark lake.
The central focus of this artwork is a kingfisher which appears to be coming from the lake. The bird is a vivid streak of colour against its dark surroundings and symbolises a brief movement of hope that impacts on one's conscience. This forms the cover of the book.
The final section of the book looks at Michele's costume work. Again the photography of costumes and embroidered details is excellent.
A wonderful range of design and styles from delicate ribbonwork and beaded flowers on dresses to heavier pieces that decorate armour can be seen on the Game of Thrones costumes.
The close-up photographs make you appreciate Michele's talent for design and her skill as an embroiderer.
Trace is a book with many layers. The initial inspiration and thought-provoking ideas, original creative designs resulting in exquisite embroideries are all brought to life with amazing photographs in this very-well presented book.
Much of Michele's work is raised embroidery with more contemporary techniques. The book contains many ideas a keen embroiderer could try for themselves.
It is a very original and refreshing book and needs time to read and enjoy the visual impact it has through its photographs.
I enjoyed this book. It deserves a place on your coffee table to look at and admire the skill and talent of Michele Carragher before it gets lost on a bookshelf. -- Carol Winter * Book Threads *
About Michele Carragher
Michele has worked on a number of prestigious productions, including the award-winning production of Elizabeth I and more recently The Crown and HBO's multi costume award-winning television series Game of Thrones, working on all eight seasons.
The success of Game of Thrones, and the recognition and appreciation of the costumes that she has worked on, have gone on to help highlight Michele's work. Many of the costumes that Michele embroidered for the show have been on exhibition in various museums in the US.
Michele's work on the show, along with her own personal textile artworks, have been featured in many renowned craft magazines and other press outlets worldwide, including The New Yorker and The Telegraph. She has given many talks and workshops to embroidery groups, and textile, costume and embroidery students. Michele has also been commissioned to create artworks which have sold to private collectors.