The Tiny Pricks Project began in 2018 when Diana Weymar, a Canadian-born, Princeton-educated textile artist, heard the current president say, “I am a very stable genius,” and found herself stitching the words into a piece of her grandmother’s needlework.
Followers on Instagram took notice, and Weymar invited other stitchers to join her in sewing “a material record of Trump’s presidency.” The daintiness and meticulousness of the medium provide a captivating contrast with the crass words the stitches preserve.
Artisan embroiderers and novices alike have since joined Weymar’s efforts in droves, sewing the president’s words into doilies, vintage textiles, masks, clothing, flags, doll clothes, tablecloths, and other found fabric. Contributors have sent more than 3,600 pieces to the project, surpassing Weymar’s original goal of generating 2,020 pieces by 2020. Weymar curates the submissions and displays them in shows like the one that recently closed at the Beacon Gallery in Boston.
Before the pandemic, Tiny Pricks Project stitching circles and workshops popped up and the public art project grew into a form of protest. Maggie Akers, a fabric artist and upholsterer in Eastham, heard about it in 2018 from her sister-in-law, Jessica Durrie, who went to a sewing event in Princeton, N.J. She went for the glass of wine but was drawn into the energy of the gathering.
“Diana gave me a tutorial on stitching, and the next day I sat on my sofa for three hours and finished my piece,” said Durrie. “It was very therapeutic.”
Back in Eastham, Akers dug an embroidered tea towel that had belonged to her great-grandmother out of her cedar chest. Inspired by its depiction of pagodas, Akers recalled Trump’s description of his affectionate relationship with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean despot. Her piece captures “the insanity” of the current administration, she says. It will join the collection, which Weymar continues to exhibit. The next show will be at Craftland in Providence, R.I., from Oct. 3 to 31.
Ultimately, Weymar plans to display the entire collection in a “massive exhibit.” In the meantime, pieces can be viewed on Instagram.
There’s something significant about these being handmade works. “The collection counterbalances the impermanence of Twitter and other social media, and Trump’s statements,” Weymar said, with “textiles that embody warmth, craft, permanence, civility, and a shared history.”
It’s that marriage of toile and Twitter that makes this project and this movement interesting. If “words matter” is a new dictum, it’s one that’s getting a deeper hearing through old-fashioned needle and thread.
At a rally in West Virginia, Trump effused about letters exchanged with Kim Jong Un. Maggie Akers of Eastham memorialized his words on her great-grandmother’s handkerchief. (Photo Maggie Akers)
Diana Weymar’s original needlework for the project, which she created in 2018. (Photo courtesy Diana Weymar/Tiny Pricks Project)
Cartoonist Roz Chast contributed this piece to the Tiny Pricks Project. “Be Best” is a reference to Melania Trump’s campaign against cyberbullying and drug use. (Photo courtesy Diana Weymar/Tiny Pricks Project)
Shortly after Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate, Weymar posted an image of this piece with a caption that noted, “We’re stitching loud words silently … We’re going forward. Register to vote. Vote by mail. Let’s make this a decisive victory.” (Photo Diana Weymar/Tiny Pricks Project)