Questions & Artists:  Martha Fieber

Now through July 2 the works of embroidery artist Martha Fieber are on display at Fine Line Designs Gallery. Fieber, of Manistique, Mich., uses her background and education in engineering and mechanical design to create what she calls “landscapes in thread.” Her elaborate, layered pieces look like paintings from a distance, but step up close and you can see the three-dimensionality of the thread and the careful attention to detail. To learn more about the artist visit


How do you describe your work?

Martha Fieber (MF):  I describe my work as hand-embroidered landscapes. I use simple embroidery techniques in a non-traditional way.


When did you begin sewing?

MF:  I started sewing and embroidering as a child, taught by my mother. I started my own style of embroidery about 20 years ago. I am self taught in my landscape embroidery techniques.


What was the first thing you ever created?

MF:  As a child I was taught to embroider flowers on pillowcases and to make my own clothes. My first landscape embroidery was a simple piece – blue linen background with black stick trees and a metallic silver moon.


For people familiar with embroidery, what types of stitches do you use?

MF:  I use straight stitches, French knots and chain stitch. Occasionally I use couching stitch.


“Maple Turned Yellow” by Martha Fieber.

How large are your pieces and how long do they take to create?

MF:  I make pieces from 3 x 5 inches up to 10 x 30 inches. The smallest ones take about 40 hours of sewing and the largest can take three to four months of sewing. I usually sew from four to six hours per day. I also dye my own linen backgrounds and most of my threads. It’s really hard to put a time on the dyeing parts of my work. I do lots of thread and pieces of linen at one time, so I don’t bother separating that time per piece. My framing takes about four hours per piece.  


How do you come up with your compositions?

MF:  I base my compositions on photos I took, looking out at the woods from my windows, or I make them up from my own ideas.


“Black-eyed Susans” by Martha Fieber.

How has your engineering background helped create “landscape in thread?”

MF:  I think my engineering background helps most in being able to plan a complex piece and follow through to completion of the project.


What’s your favorite color palette?

MF:  I like to use natural earth tones. Greens and grays are my go-to colors.


Have you ever branched into working with other media?

MF:  Yes, I am a weaver and knitter. I like to weave linen towels and runners and knit shawls. Someday, I will tackle knitting a sweater.


To see examples of Fieber’s work, go to Fine Line Designs Gallery, 10376 Hwy 42 in north Ephraim. The gallery is open daily 10 am to 6 pm and from 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday. For more information go to

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