I have always been so inspired by vintage Japanese manga (comic book) girl illustrations, and other drawings of girls on various sixties product packaging I've seen online. I'm absolutely in LOVE with the style. In fact, I've often said that if I ever got a tattoo, I would use one of these illustrations because I couldn't imagine ever falling out of love with them. They are the perfect combination of my favorite things: kawaii Japan + vintage 60s design love. And THE COLORS. Oh the colors. So perfect.
I've seen various artist names attributed to this sixties style of illustrating girls, but it wasn't until recently that I realized my favorite illustrations from that time were created by ONE artist: Eico Hanamura. I then read this adorable interview with her and she has since become my favorite artist ever! Such a charming and humble lady! I wonder if she lives near Tokyo... I might have to track her down. ; )
I've been wanting to start some embroidery projects using vintage japanese coloring book illustrations for ages (coloring book images are perfect for embroidery!) and finally sat down and started one. I've really been craving a project that allows for more organic creativity and not inspired by trends. Instead of just embroidering something and being done with it, I wanted to create a little piece of art. So I incorporated these ink pencils by Inktense into the fabric, creating a bit of a watercolor effect. The great thing about these pencils is that the color is REALLY vibrant, whereas if you used just plain watercolors, it might not be as bright.
The pencil ink bled more than I anticipated when I added water, but I really ended up loving the effect. I also bleached out some areas to take away the color, giving it a bit of a tie-dyed or batik look. I just used a bleach pen and then brushed it into the fabric.
Since I was embroidering in a hoop, the ink bled to the edges creating a ring of color when I removed the hoop. I worked with that by adding other circluar areas of color so it looked like it wasn't a mistake. ; ) I love how it turned out. I purchased an artist's canvas and stretched the fabric around it, stapling the excess to the back.
I really wanted to show a variety of stitches, so I got out my vintage embroidery book by Erica Wilson (a pioneer of needlework back in the day! She's amazing!!) and studied up on my stitches. (A big thanks to Eva at Misako Mimoko for sharing this book on her blog one day!) Those "bullion" knots I created for the roses on her shoes almost did me in until I realized I was just doing them slightly wrong. Once I figured it out, they weren't bad! And they create such a cool effect. I also really loved doing the "long and short" stitches on the roof of the house - tedious, but such a pretty effect when it's done. I would like to eventually finish off the sides of the canvas, maybe framing it with thin balsa wood and staining it. I'm also looking into maybe using pieces of colored acrylic to frame it. Not sure what will work the best! I'm excited to continue this series of embroidered art. I'd love to have quite a collection by the end of the year.
The illustration I used for this embroidery wasn't created by Eico I don't think. It was just in a random coloring book I bought on Etsy. For my next piece I'm going to use one of Eico's girls. I haven't decided which one yet! I plan on using wool crewel yarn for this one. I love the look and feel of that yarn so much more than floss. Below are illustrations by Eico. I purchased the vintage coloring pencil set a long time ago and only recently realized it was done by her. The book is something I picked up at the Japanese bookstore in NYC last year... again not realizing the illustrations were by Eico as well! Apparently I have always been drawn to her work not realizing it!
Here's that yummy crewel yarn I picked up at In Stitches here in Atlanta.
Here are some of her illustrations from the book, as well as some black and white Manga drawings. So good.
Such a talent.