Floral textile artists

Floral textile artists

In the realm of textile and fiber arts, the floral motif has always been a popular design choice; stylistically, there is a rich and varied history of its utilization. Examples are found worldwide, in cultures stretching from ancient China, Medieval India, to contemporary artists involved in grand metropolitan art circles to this day.

Despite its long-standing usage, there is no shortage of innovative ways for artists to explore this imagery. These textile artists inspired by flowers (sometimes referred to as floral textile artists) specifically highlight new and fascinating methods of bringing such a storied motif to life.

Michael Brennand-Wood

James Brennand-Wood is a floral textile artist

James Brennand-Wood – Crystallized Movements, 90 x 90 x 72 cm, 2004.
Private Collection UK.

Michael Brennand-Wood is an exciting voice in the realm of floral textile art. His work is hypnotizing and radiant. For the past 40 years, Brennand-Wood has worked in textile and wood, developing an interest in the field at a very young age, inspired by his grandparents. Brennand-Wood’s grandmother worked as an industrial weaver, and he would be fascinated with the samples she brought home. His work is generally supported by a wooden base, which was spurred by his engineer grandfather, who would tinker with wooden projects in the yard.

A piece of floral textile design

Michael Brennand-Wood – Flower Head- Narcissistic Butterfly 60, dia x 40 cm, 2005. Collection of the artist.

Brennand-Wood blends these two crafts, creating spectacular fine art pieces that have most recently centered around floral imagery. He has moved into computer-driven embroidery, often utilizing radiating symmetry of overlapping flowers. His floral textile designs highlight aspects of the history of ornamental weaving and embroidery in an exciting fashion, captivating viewers from all walks of artistic life. There is also a quality of depth to the work, which can sometimes be ignored in the fabric field. This plays wonderfully with the medium, as distance from the pieces can provide an entirely different perception of what they are. Also, his work tends to play off the perception of textile as being a woman’s medium, and he strives to play off these gender roles. In the 1990s, he focused on lace, and what new meaning and subcontext can be created by a material that is so loaded with a female cultural association.

Melissa Zexter

Melissa Zexter is a textile artist inspired by flowers

Melissa Zexter – Schoolgirls,
Gelatin Silver Print, Thread
20″ x 24″

For the past decade and a half, Melissa Zexter has been utilizing embroidery to bring a new dimension to her photography. This method is incredibly powerful, and she has brought it to great effect in developing layered depth in her work. The embroidery on her photographs serves a dual purpose: both to obscure and create. In a field so dominated by digital manipulation, Zexter opts instead to craft something physical, a melding of the two-dimensional with the very tactile thread.

A piece of stitched textile art by Melissa Zexter

Melissa Zexter – Schoolgirls (Detail)
Gelatin Silver Print, Thread
20″ x 24″

Her latest work combines photographs of haunting women with abstracted floral forms overlaid. The women are often wearing veils, which highlights the traditionally feminine features in a way that invites the viewer in to personal introspection on the lives of these women. These figures are simultaneously both strong and delicate.

Melissa Zexter produces embroidered photographs

Melissa Zexter – Veil
Gelatin Silver Print, Thread
20″ x 24″

Susan Brubaker Knapp

Leslie Brubaker Knapp - Passion Flower 15" x 19-1/4" (2012). Original design. Cotton fabric, cotton threads, wool/polyester batting. Free-motion thread sketched and machine quilted.

Susan Brubaker Knapp – Passion Flower 15″ x 19-1/4″ (2012).
Original design. Cotton fabric, cotton threads, wool/polyester batting. Free-motion thread sketched and machine quilted.

An eloquent quilter, Susan Brubaker Knapp creates intricate pieces based of photography. Not a classically trained artist, Brubaker Knapp has developed her craft through a lifetime of trial and error, beginning by working with her mother as a child. She still has the first quilt she made, from when she was only 10 years old, and her family keeps it as a functional blanket to this day. Before working full-time with fiber, Brubaker Knapp worked as a writer (her degrees are actually in English and Journalism), and as a graphic designer.

Susan Brubaker Knapp - “Exotic Beauties” 15.25" x 20.25" (2010). Original design. Cotton fabric, fusible adhesive, cotton threads, cotton batting. Thread sketched and free-motion machine quilted.

Susan Brubaker Knapp – Exotic Beauties, 15.25″ x 20.25″ (2010). Original design. Cotton fabric, fusible adhesive, cotton threads, cotton batting. Thread sketched and free-motion machine quilted.

It is apparent through her work that she has a background in design, as her crafting as a floral textile artist is immaculate. Her work, however, is much more suited for wall space. Despite no formal training in art, she has found a niche in creating intensely crafted works that express fully the colors of the world, often working with macro photography. The petals of the flowers she sews overlap in such a way that her color fields have a life of their own, interacting with their neighbouring sections.

Lindsay Taylor

Embroidered textile art featuring flowers by Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor art (photographed by Julie Yeo)

From the Isle of Wight, Lindsay Taylor (a textile artist inspired by flowers) takes her lead from the lush botanical life of Britain’s forests. She will bring home twigs and leaves from when she walks her dogs. Before moving into fine art, Taylor created wedding dresses by hand, converting her shop into her art studio, and still creates much of her work to be wearable.

Floral textile art by Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor art (photography by Julie Yeo)

Her stitched work is texturally rich, utilizing many different techniques to achieve a lushness that gives an amazingly detailed depiction of these plants. Her work is unlike that of any other artist out there, and she has a hand in the creation in all her pieces, from the hand-dyeing of the fabric, through embroidery (both free-machine and by hand), felting, and quilting. Some of Taylor’s most effective work are teacups made to appear like flowers. The veins in the leaves and petals are meticulously crafted, and represent in a way that, while not photo-realistic, create the true sense of the plant.

Lindsay Taylor is a textile artist inspired by flowers

Lindsay Taylor art (photography by Julie Yeo)

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

A floral textile artist inspired by oriental design

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo – Beauty, 2009 Silk satin, brocade, & cotton 65″ x 25″ (125 x 64 cm)

This west coast Buddhist is not only a floral textile artist, but Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo is one of the few Americans creating what is known as a thangka, a traditional form of painting or embroidery, produced with a patchwork of cotton or silk. She has been lauded by the Dalai Lama for her work in this revered artistic form. As Buddhist culture reveres the blooms of flowers, particularly the lotus, Rinchen-Wongmo often incorporates this imagery into her work.

Stitched textile art by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo – Lotus, 2000, Silk satin, Tibetan appliqué
9.5″ x 12″ (24 x 30 cm)

The lotus flower represents many things in Buddhist art, as a beautiful creation that springs forth from the swampy earth. This is the inherent dichotomy of the Earth; the same world that creates chaos and disorder also allows for the peace and knowledge the religion seeks.

Embroidery quilt with floral textile design

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo – Lotus, 2009
Silk satin, Tibetan appliqué

Rinchen-Wongmo was the subject of the documentary, Creating Buddhas: The Making and Meaning of Fabric Thangkas. The film highlights her history, as well as her virtual apprenticeship program. As traditional Tibetan craft has required a physical presence, the artist has attempted to circumvent that by offering a program centered around text instruction, coupled with teleconferences and Skype calls. And it seems to have made a significant impact, and should hopefully be able to start a widespread knowledge of the artform worldwide.

Check out some of our previous interviews and articles featuring more floral-inspired textile artists:

If you’ve enjoyed this article why not let us know by leaving a comment below?

Tuesday 27th, September 2022 / 11:20

About the author

Joseph Pitcher is the son of textile artist Sue Stone. He is an actor and voice-over artist and has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre, West End theatres and several other leading regional venues across the UK. Find Joe on Google

View all articles by Joe



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12 comments on “Floral textile artists”

  1. Ann Roth says:

    Nice to see a gathering of artists with a common theme. Please do more.

  2. Judith Williams says:

    I read emails very early in the morning and it is good to start the day with this.

  3. Jan Smith says:

    Very inspiring love your site

  4. Simply stunning, inspiring and innovative, thank you for sharing x Niki x

  5. LYNN HOLLAND says:

    I did my HND essay on Michael Brennan-Wood and saw an exhibition of his work. It’s absolutely stunning and so inspiring

  6. Frankie Leon says:

    I had the honour of assisting Michael Brennan-Wood’s workshop held at Maiwa earlier this year ………… it was so inspirational and especially so, when it overlapped with Sue’s online embroidery course!!!

  7. Glenys Causton says:

    As usual this latest article hits the mark in highlighting current artists and showing how creativity and beauty continue to thrive. I always look forward to your posts. It urges me onward to try to express my point of view.

  8. amy says:

    we love the website- absolute joy to look through!
    love sari and amy xoxo

  9. pat says:

    beautiful work, absolutely outstanding and inspired . would recommend and definitely sending to my nephew, he’s a budding artist !!!! patricia xxx

  10. Margaret Ferguson says:

    As usual I loved the work of this weeks artists…thank you for choosing such wonder artists for your newsletter Margaret Ferguson Australia.

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