Cassandra Dias: The Van Gogh of Embroidery

Cassandra Dias is a true inspiration. As a new artist who has only been stitching for two years she honed her skills to establish a successful collection of work and an impressive following.

Her embroideries are miniature works of art. Composed of French knots, satin stitches and other embroidery techniques, she is able to create sensational pieces that are reminiscent of impressionist masters like Van Gogh.

Based in California, Cassandra developed her unique style during lockdown. She paints with threads to beautifully depict rugged-mountains, swirling clouds, lapping streams, hazy sunsets and tufts of lupine sprouting across the coast line.

Cassandra is proof that success is born out of mixture of experimenting, perseverance, and perfection of technique. We caught up with Cassandra to learn more about her love of art, her creative process and her desire to inspire others into embroidery.

“I will always have so much love for the great impressionist painters such as Monet and Van Gogh. My embroideries definitely reflect their influence on me. However, I am also a massive fan of impressionist paintings with a California subject matter. I really admire the work of artists such as John Marshall Gamble, Paul Grimm, and Daphne Huntington!”

Embroidery Artist Cassandra Dias
close up of embroidery work by Cassandra Dias

You only started stitching two years ago. How did you get into Embroidery?

I am still relatively new to embroidery. In January of 2020, while sitting at home one day during my daughter’s nap time, I decided to try to stitch a simple Harry Potter design on my son’s old denim jacket. I ‘Googled’ some basic stitches and got to work. Slowly I taught myself how to manipulate the threads with all the different types of stitches.

My embroidery journey originally started because I wanted to try my hand at a new artform. Having previously dabbled in painting, ceramics, collage, and crochet, I wanted to turn my hand to something that I could pick up and put down easily. This was great for me being a stay-at-home mum of two young children.

After my first couple of embroidery projects in early 2020 (a small logo on my son’s jacket, and some random floral designs), the world was starting to understand that Covid was a serious issue. Places were beginning to shut down over the following weeks and it was around that time I realized that I wanted to do landscape embroideries. The memories of my past travels and visions of future ones, and being able to bring them to life as physical pieces of art, allowed my mind to wander while my body was actually stuck at home. It was a great creative outlet, and one that I desperately needed at the time.

Impressionist landscapes by embroidery artist Cassandra Dias
Cassandra Dias embroidery
Cassandra Dias impressionist thread painting

How do you approach your work? What is your creative process?

My creative process starts with finding inspiration from photos of my past travels. More recently I’ve turned to antique oil paintings, especially ones that remind me of California and where I grew up. Once I find a photo or painting that speaks to me, I attempt to translate that to embroidery.

I draw a rough sketch of it onto my canvas fabric, collect all the DMC thread colours I need, then start stitching. While I really enjoyed using satin stitch in many of my earlier pieces, I soon fell in love with the thread painting technique.  My more recent embroideries are composed mostly of those tiny overlapping stitches.

a display of coloured threads by Cassandra Dias

Your work is often displayed in embroidery hoops, why is that? 

I use embroidery hoops to display my finished pieces because I like the way they look, especially with how I take the work all the way to the edges of the hoop. For the pieces that I can’t bring myself to part with and decide to keep, I usually end up displaying the finished hoop in a shadowbox, which is nice because it can either be hung up on the wall like a normal painting or can be placed on a flat surface, and it looks great either way. 

Additionally, the glass encasement also helps preserve the piece, so it’s a win-win As far as the presentation of my pieces in the future, I have been interested in creating rectangular works instead of round ones, and stretching the canvases over frames like actual paintings do- it’s just a matter of figuring out the best way to go about it. 

Tree hand embroideries by Cassandra Dias
Mountainscape embroidery by Cassandra Dias

Many of our students go on to open their own stores selling their work. What advice can you give them?

Putting a price on the embroideries I plan to sell is always a struggle. You want to give yourself proper credit, but at the same time you might be afraid that a high price will be off-putting to potential buyers. When it comes down to it though, I try not to sell myself short. I take into consideration the time and effort that went into creating the piece, while also honestly acknowledging how attached I am to it.

If you are still having trouble, you can also search and see what prices other artists are selling similar work at. All those factors help me land on a number that feels right for my own embroideries. As far as marketing goes, I am active on Instagram and create posts that feature my works in progress. People seem to really enjoy seeing the closeup details of my pieces. When I list one for sale, they feel closer to the work because they were able to follow along during the creation of it. They feel invested.

Van gogh style thread painting by Cassandra Dias
Cassandra Dias embroidery work

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am slowly creating several patterns of designs similar to my early pieces. These include lots of satin stitch work, french knots, and some thread painting. The patterns will be geared towards beginners or anyone wanting a relaxing project that isn’t too laborious. To be updated on any releases of patterns, please feel free to follow my Instagram page: www.instagram.com/cassiemdias

Your work is impressionist in style, are you inspired by Impressionist artists?

I will always have so much love for the great impressionist painters such as Monet and Van Gogh. My embroideries definitely reflect their influence on me. However, I am also a massive fan of impressionist paintings with a California subject matter. I really admire the work of artists such as John Marshall Gamble, Paul Grimm, and Daphne Huntington. If I had to choose between those artists to sit next to at a dinner party, I think I’d pick John Gamble because he too lived in Santa Barbara (my hometown) and his paintings remind me of home.

Work by Cassandra Dias

What’s next for you?

I’m not really sure what is next for me. It’s very exciting not knowing where my embroidery will take me. For now, I am just going to continue creating my pieces and working on patterns to share my love of stitching with others. Hopefully they discover their own passion for embroidery through what I am able to put out into the world.

What Cassandra Dias has taught us:

  • You don’t need bags of experience to find your artistic voice and be successful
  • Feed your creative curiosity to feel inspired
  • Natural creativity can be applied to any medium. You just need to give it a go
  • Don’t sell yourself short when pricing your work
  • Your passion for your craft will inspire others. 

Want to know more? Follow Cassandra Dias on Instagram or visit her website.

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