Richly-colored plants hang in terracotta pots, showing off their lilting green limbs. Geodes pop off textile backgrounds in candy-colored, needlepoint renderings. In the precise and lovely works of Sarah K. Benning, the natural, organic wonders of the Earth are captured in handicraft.
Benning is a self-described nomadic textile artist who travels between her two studios in the US and Spain, and runs an engaging Etsy page full of her creations and self-craft templates. The Baltimore-born artist studied fine arts in college and eventually taught herself the intricacies of embroidery through persistence and genuine love for the art form. Benning spends an ample amount of her process studying the physical traits of her embroidery subjects, a diverse, frond-y menagerie of botanical life. Her rich and vibrant circular tableaus bring new meaning to a realm of artistry that recalls parlor needlepoint done by aristocratic daughters and wives of yesteryear.
Benning beautifully melds themes of natural manifestations and modern-day sensiblities to her stitchings. A studied and proficient embroidery expert, Benning began a DIY program for those hoping to recreate her original stitchings as well seeking to learn a new technical, detail-oriented skill. Her exclusive packages exist on her Etsy page every month. Each package includes a hand-made pattern, as well as extensive instructions via a PDF file. Her kits smartly combine commerce, art, and fan involvement.
In a passage on her official website, the artist shares how she devises each template for her creations and then transfers them to a fabric-anchored pattern. She writes, “I invent [the patterns]! Drawing is a major part of my practice, so I keep sketchbooks of ideas, composition thumbnails, plant details, and textile diagrams to aid in the creating of my stitched works. These sketches then come together as final designs by re-drawing them directly onto my fabric with pencil. The ‘under drawing’ gets completely covered up with the stitching. This process allows for a lot of revision and experimentation before I get down to sewing.”