Danielle Clough Is a Master of Thing-Making

South African fiber artist Danielle Clough takes embroidery to the next level, creating eye-popping designs that are embroidered on anything from cloth to fences and even tennis rackets.

Born and raised in Cape Town, Clough completed her studies in art direction and graphic design at The Red and Yellow School before embarking on a career in visual art, digital design, and what she calls “thing-making.”

View this post on Instagram

Highly Strung opened with such an amazing night and I can't thank everyone who came and shared the incredibly raw and vunerable act of exposing your passion with the public, with me. It was more then I could have ever expected and undeniably one of the most special nights of my life. I had a vision for the show that started a few months back. I've never felt like I fitted into a formal gallery setting but I knew it was time to work towards a showcase. I met the team at @loop_editions who had full faith on my idea and gave me the space, support and trust I needed to follow it. Loop Editions opened with Highly Strung, and is an extention of @99loopgallery. LE is for the magic that sits outside of the fine art umbrella, so it felt like the perfect home for my first show. I cant thank them enough for embracing me and allowing me to hang 16kg of pompoms from their ceiling. I arrived to this gift of the most INCREDIBLE bouquet I have ever seen by @opusbotanicalstudio and this is the only picture I took of the night. Thank you @ochrehair for making me feel both calm and beautiful before the show and to @artist.admin who are the life raft of my career and made the night seemless! To all the friends who arrived and gave me the warmest hugs, the strangers who stumbled in for the gin, Beefeater for supplying said delicious gin, @lanispice for all your help (I could not do any of this without you and your wonderful way) and @adamvinokur for months of patient listening and crossing the country to be near me. I couldnt be more grateful then I am now, or more prepared to take a long awaited competitive nap.

A post shared by Danielle Clough (@fiance_knowles) on

After working in photography, graphic design, and VJing, she turned her hobby of embroidery into a full-time occupation. Her clients include giants like Gucci, Adobe, the United Nations, Nike, and even Drew Barrymore; with her work featured in publications like the New York Times and the Evening Standard, as well various exhibitions across the country.

“Most of my pieces vary, but for my ideal piece, I start by taking a photograph of the subject, and then I edit the image —for me, contrast is really important, as are the colors— and then I usually work from a black-and-white reference,” she explains her creative process in an interview with Rebel Girls Boundless. “I trace the line work onto whatever surface I’m embroidering on, and then I start ‘coloring it in’ with thread. I just think of it as, you know, tracing and coloring in. Which is like a child’s dream.”

“I also love the idea of just being a crafter,” she adds. “It’s like being an artisan—being a baker or being a sign painter. There’s so much freedom in being able to make something without there having to be more significance, without the critique. I think we often say, ‘I want to be seen as an artist,’ but why are we so hard on the fact that something is a craft when we can be badass crafters?”

Take a look at some of her badass creations: