Margaret Eby
December 03, 2014 2:49 pm

At first glance, the portraits that artist Cayce Zavaglia makes appear to be ever-so-slighty distorted photographs, or paintings made with linear brushstrokes. It’s only when you look extra-closely that you recognize the materials Zavaglia is actually using: Thousands and thousands of strands of thread.

It makes sense that Zavaglia’s portraits look like painting. The St. Louis-based artist, born in Indiana and raised in Australia, began as a painter. Twelve years ago, in an effort to avoid the toxins in oil paints and turpentine while she was pregnant, Zavaglia hit upon a new technique for creating painting-like images by using layered stitches.

“Over the years, I have developed a sewing technique that allows me to blend colors and establish tonalities that resemble the techniques used in classical oil painting,” Zavaglia explains on her site. “The direction in which the threads are sewn mimic the way brush marks are layered within a painting which, in turn, allows for the allusion of depth, volume, and form. My stitching methodology borders on the obsessive, but ultimately allows me to visually evoke painterly renditions of flesh, hair, and cloth.”

The portraits are always of people that Zavaglia knows. She begins by using a photograph of that person transfered to fabric and then begins her stitching layers. Each piece takes anywhere from six weeks to six months to complete. Color us impressed.

A few of our absolute favorite are below:

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