Love These Oil Paintings? They’re Actually Made Of Yarn

From several feet away, Cayce Zavaglia‘s portraits look like hyper-realistic oil paintings–the sort where every last blemish and strand of wayward hair is so meticulously rendered, you have to wonder if the artist has obsessive-compulsive tendencies (she certainly wouldn’t be alone).

Zoom in, though, and you realize that Zavaglia is even more fanatical than that: Each portrait is entirely–painstakingly–hand-stitched. The larger ones measure about a foot tall and 3 feet wide, and take as many as six months to complete.

Zavaglia is trained as a painter. But when she got pregnant with her daughter, she decided not to use oils anymore (what with all the turpentine and varnish fumes wafting around). So she vowed instead to “paint” with wool thread.

Her biggest challenge was getting the thread to act like oil paint. “Initially, the most frustrating part was not being able to mix the color that I was seeing,” she tells Co.Design. “So I approached the portraits with more of a pointillist sensibility. Laying down variously sized stitches in a variety of colors gave the illusion of the color I wanted but didn’t have. My stitches are layered on top of one another, which allows some to peep through and others to be obscured underneath.”

Zavaglia’s paintings are on view at the Lyons Wier Gallery in New York until Saturday. For purchasing information, contact the gallery. And for an extended interview with Zavaglia, go here.

[Images courtesy of Cayce Zavaglia]