Embroidered Portraits by Cayce Zavaglia

Artist Cayce Zavaglia considers herself a painter (she is formally trained in drawing and painting), but for the last ten years she’s been working on a series of portraits that are more works of embroidery. Atop a background of sanded and distressed acrylic, Zavaglia uses crewel wool to hand embroider the likenesses.

In an interview with New York artist Joetta Maue on the UK blog Mr. X Stitch, Zavaglia notes that her formal training in drawing and painting arms her with the tools to break down colors and shapes and translate them using fiber, but that she is completely self-taught in the art of embroidery. She points to her mother, who did cross-stitch and taught needlework back in Sydney, Australia, where Zavaglia grew up, as inspiration.

Detail of “Garrett”


Detail of “Sophie”



“Elly au Verso ”

This is the first of a new series “Au Verso.” It is large format archival pigment print of the back of the Elly piece, printed on fine art rag paper in an edition of five.

Zavaglia, who lives in St., Louis, Missouri, only sews portraits of family and friends; she never takes on commissions. She will show her embroidered portraits at the Lyons Wier Gallery in New York City November 17 – December 17, 2011.

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.