It was during the last year of her illustration degree at the University of the West of England that Chloe Giordano began to experiment with freehand needle painting. Using sewing thread and hand-dyed fabrics, each of her delicate pieces can take between one day and several weeks to complete.
“Although I’ve always loved art, I didn’t have any particular interest in textile arts when I was growing up, nor did I have any close relatives who did,” she admitted in an interview with Textile Artist. “When I started sewing near the end of my degree it was the first time I’d picked up a needle in years and I didn’t really know what I was doing with it. But I have always loved to draw and spent a lot of time drawing animals and exploring nature, and I think I’ve come back round to this in my current work.”
Originally from Buckinghamshire, and currently living and working in York, Giordano has been hard at work since graduating in 2011. As her work is freehand there is no prior pattern, meaning she works from her own drawings that have been created using a combination of reference and imagination. And with clients that include Penguin, Vintage Books, Bloomsbury, Liberty, and a range of private clients – her original work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I think I fell in love with the tactile nature of sewing and working with fabric, but I don’t regret any of the hours spent drawing as it informs how I work now,” she says. “I find I get a sense of satisfaction from working with textiles that I never had with 2D mediums.”
Working on unbleached calico that she dyes by hand, as well as single strands of sewing thread (either cotton or polyester), Giordano’s designs are drawn onto the fabric with a vanishing fabric marker.
“I’m always a bit torn between referring to my work as ‘illustration’ or ‘embroidery’,” she says, “having gone into it with the mindset of an illustrator and having no background in traditional crafts, and yet I spend too much time playing around with fabric and sewing needles to feel I can entirely say I’m an illustrator – but I like to think that’s what people find interesting about my art, that it is in a space between embroidery and painting.”