I recently read the Shadows of the Apt books by Adrian Tchaikovsky, and I got struck by an idea for an embroidered piece. A little bit about the books: they’re a fantasy series, and the premise is that groups of people (called kinden) have gifts based on an ideal of bugs– Wasp-kinden can sting you with their hands, Ant-kinden have a telepathic link– and also, that magic is on its way out, and technology is on its way in. Some kinden have Aptitude– they’re capable of understanding technology and believe that magic was only ever a legend. The Inapt can’t comprehend even simple technology. The Inapt were dominant over the Apt for generations, but technology is leveling the playing field.
As I was reading, an image wouldn’t leave me: the Apt species on some clockwork, and the Inapt species on a tangle of vines. I started looking into stumpwork bugs, and decided that would be a striking way to get some dimension on top of the base embroidery. I ended up using an astrolabe to represent Aptitude.
This is not the biggest, but certainly the most involved piece I’ve done to date. From drawing to finished piece took from January to May. It was great fun to do, not least because I learned about stumpwork as I made it.
I feel that I’ve become proficient at stumpwork wings.
I’m fond of this moth:
Closer look at the Apt bugs, plus a slug:
A tiny and yet evil mosquito (they are out in force right now):
If you’ve read the books, you might recognize which character is a Beetle on the boundary of Apt and Inapt:
And finally, here’s the whole thing, framed in a shadow box (heh):
I’ve read to the fifth book (there will be ten, and more are currently available in the UK than in the US) so there may well be cool bug species I missed out on. I had fun looking up pictures of the various bugs. Some of my reference photos are on my Pinterest bug board.
Way too late in the game to do anything about it, it occurred to me that this could make a cool book cover. Though perhaps with fewer dimensional elements! I’m very happy with how it turned out; it’s very close to the original idea.