If you’ve consigned your black and white photographs of yesteryears to the attic, it’s time to retrieve them and give them a new life. All you need to do is to contact Han Cao, a calligrapher, and fiber artist, and she’ll repurpose these photographs into something you’ll cherish forever.
What Cao does is simply embroider brightly colored flowers and landscapes directly onto each black and white photograph. She works on photographs that are 5×7 inches or smaller. Her colorful threadwork certainly gives the vintage photograph a new meaning and brings it back to life.
This amazing artist, based in Palm Springs in Southern California, USA, does take liberties in modifying old photographs. She not only adds tiny, repetitive details to their clothes or blurs the landscape with stitches, but also at times covers people’s faces with stitched flower patches, much like facemasks currently in use in these pandemic times. The bright threads certainly add color to the otherwise dull photographs. And it’s not only the colorful threads but also neat stitching that makes her photos stand out.
Cao sources most of her old photographs from the flea markets and antique shops she frequents during her travels. She sifts through thousands of such vintage photos to get the ones most suited for such transformation. Of course, she welcomes old photographs from anyone interested in getting them repurposed with embroidery.
Once Cao receives the photograph, she first discusses the potential ideas and quotes her price. On confirmation, she proceeds to work on the photograph. She first creates a digital sketch on an electronic copy of the photograph to show how its color, composition, and concept will look like. Once approved, she goes ahead with creating it. Before sending the finished product, she sends its image for final approval.
A typical piece can take up to eight weeks to finish. As far as price is concerned, she’s a bit on the higher side. For a 5×7-inch photograph, the price starts from US$800 and may vary depending upon its size and complexity. This certainly does not dim her popularity. She enjoys a viewership of over 106,000 on Instagram alone.