New This Month

This Embroidery is Bright, Colorful, and Brings Portraits to Life

Meet the South African native who is redefining fiber art.


Some of us may overlook items like lockets, tennis rackets, and mesh wire, but for artist Danielle Clough, it's a canvas. Clough, who is based in Cape Town, South Africa, has been wowing her nearly 90,000 followers on Instagram with her detailed, colorful, and playful portraits of vibrant flora, fauna, and pop culture figures using simply a needle, thread, and her imagination.


[BE INSPIRED: 15 Easy-to-Follow Embroidery Projects]

Miniature portrait of Janine. 🌍👗💙 #embroidery #portrait #bordado #tealish #queerafrica

A photo posted by Danielle Clough (@fiance_knowles) on


Using conventional embroidery hoops in addition to less traditional materials in her work, Clough has become a master of stitchery. With an eye for color and an inimitable sense of humor, she has been able to transform her lifelong passion for artistic expression into a career doing what she loves — bringing her artistic vision to life.


As a woman of many talents, she previously worked as a designer, a photographer, and "VJ" (or visual artist, creating visuals for electronic music artists and festivals under the pseudonym Fiance Knowles) — and it's clear that each of these careers have influenced her embroidery, resulting in an infectious liveliness.



Miniature portrait of Lesego. 👚☯💜 #embroidery #miniature #portrait #purple #queerafrica

A photo posted by Danielle Clough (@fiance_knowles) on


While she's always practiced sewing as a creative outlet, fiber art didn't become her primary focus until the beginning of last year. Clough began using the sewing skills her mother taught her as a child to channel her "obsession with embroidery" that began developing over time. "I never had a decisive moment where I wanted to do embroidery," she says, and instead feels more like she stumbled upon the craft.



[TRY THIS: A Cross-Stitched Family Portrait]


"I was bored at my weekend job one day, and I found a needle, thread, and scrap piece of felt," that she had on hand to make plush toys for friends, a hobby she picked up while studying art direction and graphic design at The Red and Yellow School in Cape Town. "Over time, detailing these toys with stitches became an obsession with embroidery. I 'doodled' a rabbit with the thread, and was hooked. I kept doing these 'thread-sketches' and only later realized it was embroidery."


Using mostly short stitch, long stitch, and French knots, each piece varies in terms of how long they take her to make, but every bird, flower, and face is crafted with care and imbued with Clough's unique perspective. In fact, her shop is offline at the moment so she can focus on creating new artwork. She told us that creating new work "takes a bit of time, but hopefully that assures people that each piece is made with patience and love."


Inspired by these embroidered works of art? Try your hand at one of our colorful embroidery projects: