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Turning up-cycled material into luxury pieces of work, Stephen Wilson is a conceptual artist whose unique medium carries his message. Browse through our site of bespoke collections, recent news, installations, and more! For more information or questions, email us at studio@stephenwilsonstudio.com. 

Classic Pieces

Western

Mystical

Petites

Albums

Butterflies

 

 

Meet Stephen

 Thank you so much for joining me on this journey - it’s an incredible feeling to know that there are others out there who share the same appreciation for my one-of-a-kind pieces as much as I do.

luxury up-cycling

Some of Stephen’s favorite pieces are the ones that use very unique up-cycling techniques. Often the process consists of utilizing what some would view as disposable materials. He takes the scraps and restores them to their once luxurious status by making them into art.  Each art piece begins with an up-cycled luxury bag, box, silk scarf or handbag. He then digitizes a custom embroidery design by hand, layering in each stitch individually. The boxes and bags are deconstructed, becoming the canvas for his creations. The embroidery then goes directly through his chosen medium and the visible texture begins to bring the piece to life. 

The Studio

Most everyone is surprised when they visit the studio for the first time, believing it will be like a traditional artist’s studio with paints, easels, and traditional art supplies. The studio is large, taking up about 15,000 square feet and setup to create work using alot of traditional art techniques mixed with modern technology. Stephen uses 3D printers, laser cutters, commercial large format embroidery machines, yarn embroidery machines and laser cutting embroidery machines. When people see the amount of craftsmanship and steps involved in each piece they are always surprised and impressed.

sourcing

The number one question Stephen receives when making appearances is “Where do you find all of these boxes?” Every product purchased from a luxury brand comes packaged in a beautiful box. Usually, these boxes are thrown away or put into storage somewhere, remaining unused. He turns these materials into art. Each box or bag is carefully selected for each work of art and sourced from locations all around the world including: donations from clients and friends, auction sales, estate sales and more. Every piece of fabric used in the pieces is also from luxury materials, whether that be a luxury scarf, article of clothing or packaging material. Stephen  spends time every day sourcing boxes, scarves and luxury materials to use in the work.

Prepping

Some of the pieces are created with one box and others use multiple boxes that are cut up and collaged into a pattern. Most of the patterns in the collage are based on vintage quilt patterns. Stephen has worked in the quilting industry for many years and this is his way to pay homage to the many quilts he has designed. The boxes are cut into pieces and held together with adhesive to prepare for the next step making the background canvas complete and ready to be moved into the computer for digitizing. The image is scanned into the computer, squared off and edited so the size of the canvas precisely matches the piece.

Digitizing the artwork

Stephen brings the image of choice into his digital drafting system and hand traces all of the stitches using the image of the canvas as his guide. He masterfully engineers the stitches allowing beautiful patterns and designs to emerge as a decorative background for the final piece. Most of the small works have over 50,000 stitches while the large pieces can easily require 1,000,000 stitches or more.

Everything is embroidered

There are over 30 different types of embroidery machines in the studio, including standard embroidery machines, laser cutting machines and even a yarn embroidery machine. Depending on the piece, a machine is selected and prepped for the piece. Each spool of thread and coordinating fabric is selected at this point in the process.  Each spool of thread is loaded onto the machine and the canvas is meticulously placed onto specialized backing, prepping it to stitch. Once the machine is started, pieces can take up to 16 hours to stitch depending on the amount of embroidery in the given design. All appliqué fabrics are then added into the piece at this time along with extra elements like butterflies, flowers and patches are embroidered during this stage for each piece of art.

Hand finishing

Once the pieces come off of the the embroidery machine it is moved into finishing and meticulously hand trimmed. Each butterfly and embroidered element is hand trimmed with skill, patience and a very sharp pair of scissors. Each pom-pom is perfectly hand rolled using remnants of luxury scarves, ensuring every part of the luxury materials are used and not wasted. Every piece is full of amazing intricate detail. 

embellishing

The final step in the process is decorating which entails mounting the butterflies, appliqués and other decorative objects to the piece. Each butterfly is mounted using industrial adhesive and molded into different wing angles to simulate flight. Stephen’s goal is that the butterflies look as though they landed right onto the piece of art. The appliqué elements are each mounted on top of laser cut acrylic to give a 3D effect, making them appear to pop off of the canvas

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