I had a life-changing experience on Monday evening. I visited my friend, Antonius Wiriadjaja, artist in residence at NYU's ITP program in Manhattan. He took my intro embroidery class at 3rd Ward, and subsequently invited me to check out his computerized embroidery machine.
One visit, and I'm hooked! Using the pen tool in Illustrator, I "drew" one of the phrases I would normally stitch by hand. I decided to treat the text as a line drawing, which is how I think of my embroidery. Antonius then showed me how to use software he downloaded, which takes the Illustrator file and converts it to a format the embroidery machine can use. The funniest part was seeing how the software made a linear drawing out of my "text," inserting long floats, or trails of thread to connect breaks in my drawing. Normally, one would use scissors to cut these floats by hand. I decided to keep them, because I see them as a map of how the embroidery machine works and thinks. They add to the linear quality of the text-drawing.
Below are two images: the machine embroidery, which is considerably larger and has a playful inconsistency, and my hand-stitched rendering, which has a more private and discrete sensibility.
Many thanks to Antonius for opening my eyes and hands to a new potential format for my work. I am now going to search for grant opportunities so that I, too can have an embroidery machine.