My plastic embroidery project

Christian Sardet Danielle Balfoort embroidery Environment Plankton Plastic

Detail plastic sample D Balfoort embroidery artMy plastic embroidery project

Have you ever wondered how handmade embroidery is created? If so, you are in for a treat! I thought it would be fun to share more about the process and all the behind the scenes magic from now on.

Every creative process has its own challenges/mistakes or “happy accidents” as painter Bob Ross used to call them 😊 I will include them as well to keep things realistic.


Some creatives grab their needle and thread and just begin embroidering. Others rather sketch their designs first and want to figure out which materials and colors they need. And my routine? I feel most confident creating a mood board first. (And coffee...)

It is probably most time-consuming, but it suits me most. During this inspiration phase or a theme pops up in my head. Next step is to translate my mood board and ideas into an embroidery design. My mission is always to add a story into my work, whether that is personal, fiction or a current world theme. This way people not only see the technical side of how an embroidery piece is executed but can enjoy the story behind it too! My mission is completed when someone loves my work so much that they want to take it into their home and enjoy it for a long time.

Collecting and inspiration D Balfoort embroidery art My current embroidery project

So far, a first peek into my work process. My current project is all about plastic and plankton and why they are connected. I didn't make a mood board for this project because I knew very early on in the process what I want to create.

Last year I had this vague idea of combining embroidery and plastic together. Shape, color and size still had to be determined. This led to collecting my plastic waste and I was shocked to see the amount of plastics after only one week collecting.

Plastic wast not go to waste D Balfoort embroidery art

Not long after I stumbled upon this book titled ‘Plankton, the wonders of a drifting world. * Christian Sardet, the author, is a well-known marine biologist who’s aim is to preserve sea-and ocean life. By sharing his data from collected plankton samples all over the world, he informs people about the challenges these creatures are facing due to micro plastics that end up in our waters.

The book features amazing pictures of all sorts of plankton and makes you aware what important role they have in our food chain.

Book Christian Sardet Plankton wonders of the drifting world

Plankton comes from the Greek definition ‘Planktos’ and that means wandering or drifting. These micro-organisms are at the base of the foodchain where small animals get eaten by bigger ones. As an example: without plankton there would be no fish.

It is no secret at all that huge amounts of plastic are a danger for sea life. We all know the heartbreaking images of baby seals trapped in plastic or dead fish with plastic found in their intestines. Our microscopic little friends are endangered as well but that is hardly ever on the news.

People like *Christian Sardet, discovered plankton where plastic was intertwined with the organs. These oxygen providers are obviously threatened by plastics as well. By the way: did you know that plankton appears to be responsible for 50% of our oxygen on Earth?

Ernst Haeckl Embroidery and plastic and embroidery

After reading this book, I had a Eureka moment. What if…I combine my plastic waste with embroidery and re-create plankton into enlarged embroidered objects? My message: more awareness on the importance of plankton in combination with plastic waste.

From idea to technical execution is obviously the next big step. I want to show people the beauty of plankton. Some of them are not even a millimeter hence why people are unaware about their appearance. I soon realized that enlarging the plankton images was the way to go!

Sample white D Balfoort embroidery art

My plan is to make six different embroidered objects inspired by plankton. I will combine the plastic within my embroidery art. These objects will be displayed. To support the objects, I’m currently making a serie of embroidered samples. I envision enlarged versions of the samples, transferred onto fabric. The fabric can be used as a background for the objects or displayed separately attached to the ceiling.

Two of the samples out of five are almost finished. Next time I will show you the finished samples, chosen plankton designs, colors and materials.

Blue sample D Balfoort embroidery art

White plastic flower D Balfoort embroidery art

*Christian Sardet  is a CNRS emeritus research director at the Observatoire Océanologique of Villefranche-sur-Mer where he founded and directed the cell biology and BioMarCell laboratories devoted to research on fertilization and development of embryos. He is a also co-founder and coordinator of the Tara Oceans expedition dedicated to the global study of plankton.

If you want to know more about their work or support:

Always happy to share my inspiration but it turns out the book from Christian Sardet is not available anymore.

Other beautiful books I can suggest are ‘Marine plankton,A practical guide to ecology, methodology, and taxonomy from Lucas Castellani (expensive but a must have if you want to know everything about it)

or Coastal Plankton from Otto Larink

Available on Amazon for international readers and if you are living in the Netherlands


Christian Sardet; Plankton wonders of he drifting world

Plankton images: The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel

Note: This blog contains affiliate links: that means that when you buy one of the books mentioned I get a small percentage of the sale. That doesn't mean you pay more. It means support, to keep this website and sharing all things embroidery going :) 

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