Photo-real tapestries capture beautiful British scenes using just needle and thread

July 1, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

These incredibly realistic scenes from rural life have been painstakingly created by a British artist in her own living room – sewn using just a needle and thread.

Jill Draper, 62, renders pictures of rural life and shimmering seascapes in her embroidered tapestries recreating scenes with astonishing accuracy from photographs.

Each picture measuring around 15 by 30 inches takes up to 120 and contains hundreds of thousands of stitches done by hand and machine.

Jill paints the landscape onto padded bridal satin or pure silk with fabric dye which she fixes with heat before heavily embellishing the material with stitches to create depth.

She uses household cotton or Terylene and picks from her thousands of colours applied with a sewing machine or darning hoop and hand sews special detail with pure silk.

Mother-of-two and grandmother-of-four Jill is inspired by the intricate stitching and everyday subjects of rural life found in Elizabethan embroidery

She sews for around six hours every day and relies on natural light to distinguish between the hundreds of similar shades.

Taking care to limit her hours is vital as the intense bursts of concentration required can make her nauseous.

The artist, who lives with her husband Peter, 60, a training consultant in the newspaper industry, bases her tapestries on photographs of the surrounding countryside.

Jill from Wenhaston, Suffolk, said: ”It’s a passion and a labour of love – I get a thrill out of seeing the finished product, then I move on to the next piece.

”Once I get on the machine, I become quite manic and I will work on small areas of the picture, rather than the whole picture.

”I can work on it for days and then throw it on the floor and say ‘It’s finished’ – and it’s a crumpled pile of stitches and satin.

”I’ve done everything I can to make it how I want it, but I can’t see it until I’ve stretched it. It’s only when I stretch it that the picture actually shows up to anybody.

”I very rarely – once in 100 times, perhaps – go back to change something after I’ve stretched it.

Jill was born and went to school on Lowestoft, Suffolk, before studying art at Leicester College of Art and going on to work in a boutique on Fulham Road.

She eventually realised her artistic abilities and began sewing three decades ago to help her cope with post-natal depression after the birth of her son and daughter.

But Jill has had to fight the perception that embroidery is a hobby for old ladies and does not deserve the same status as other

She added: ”It tends to be seen as a craft rather than an art, and now there are sewing machines with computers that can scan and reproduce a picture.

”But every piece of work that I create is completely and utterly unique. I use the machine as if it were a pencil of a paintbrush.

”I still love to see people’s reactions to the pictures. People get back to me years later and say that they still love them and have them hanging in their living room.”

The Suffolk-born artist has lived all over Britain before returning to her native region and has exhibited in British art galleries since 1978.

She works as a full-time embroidery artist and has sold hundreds of pictures through galleries and as private commissions for between £500 to £3,000 for a piece.

Jill and Peter have recently bought a plot of land in a nearby Suffolk village and plan to build an eco-home incorporating a gallery for Jill’s work.

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