Wednesday was the birthday of a Grate Frend (Molesworth) of mine, Alf Rehn. Alf is the epitome of the modern European: divides his time between London, Copenhagen and Finland, speaks most modern languages, is sophisticated, suave and soigné. He is on the international speaker circuit, writes books on innovation that get translated into umpteen languages, and is father of my godson. So, a pertinent question is, what do you get him for his birthday.
Well, some months ago I was telling him about an artist whose work I really love, Elvis Robertson. Robertson takes old cloths, mainly table linen, and embroiderers the stains on them. This might sound a bit disgusting to some people, but I think the pieces are exquisite. For some reason I find the reclamation of these damaged and discarded pieces of fabric really moving. Here are a couple of pictures of what I mean:
His instagram account is definitely worth consulting too. Alf said how much he would like a shirt with coffee stains embroidered on it. I suddenly remembered this and thought it would be a good present for someone who had everything, and if he didn’t like it he could always cut it up for dusters.
I bought a white shirt with a front woven to look like a pintucked dress shirt and went into the studio on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I started by printing some rings with a ceramic ramekin using Golden Fluid acrylics in raw sienna and bronze. I then sprinkled some copper metallic powder over the wet paint. This is the sample piece:
Having got my confidence up, I stamped the paint on the shirt and left it to dry in the warm studio.
I put it in an embroidery hoop and did satin stitch in ordinary brown stranded embroidery thread and added some tiny coffee coloured beads. I decided to embroider just the button flap as a design feature.
This is a shocking picture of the finished shirt:
Fortunately, Alf loved it and has promised to send me some photos of him in it when he wears it, which he says he will do when he does one of his big strategy talks. More news to follow then.