Stitch-by-Stitch: Jillian Tamaki’s Penguin Threads

Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics by Jillian Tamaki

Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics by Jillian Tamaki

Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics by Jillian Tamaki

Allow me to set the scene for you: in the middle part of 2010 Jillian Tamaki, a Brooklyn-based illustrator and comics artist, took to needle and thread. The result was her Monster Quilt – not a monster due to its size but because of the sweetly garish characters interwoven into its fabric. The fact that this was her first attempt at producing an embroidered work speaks volumes about her inherent talent for the quaintly old-fashioned medium. Cut to 2010 and Tamaki her returned with a new embroidery project: Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics.

The fact that this project came to fruition is pretty incredible as, after completing her Monster Quilt, Tamaki decided not to take any future commissions in embroidery. That is, unless it was from Penguin Books. The three covers that she has completed as part of this project are intricately detailed and wonderfully encapsulate the mood and narrative of each book. To my mind, there is no better way to commemorate the enduring power of these tales than through a handicraft that gestures towards the past and that celebrates tactility. Furthermore, Tamaki has updated the medium for contemporary audiences and infused each design with her unique artistic sensibility. If this doesn’t make people want to pick up a book, I don’t know what will.

Danica

March 29, 2011 / By

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