Mixed Media Paper Embroidery by Contempfleury

Leah Nikolaou of Contempfleury in Somerset, England describes her decidedly feminine paper embroidery art pieces as "a fusion of vintage interests." In 2018, after working in media for a dozen years, she began collecting flowers on walks with her toddler daughter to preserve in a toy flower press. This brought back memories of the joy she had felt as a child doing the same activity. Around the same time, she took up embroidery, another earlier pursuit.


 oval paper wreath with embroidered bees and flowers, and velvet hanging ribbon


Initially she combined natural materials with hand stitching... for example, embroidering paper snippets onto collected leaves. She was drawn to the meditative process of paper piercing and stitching, and soon began working with soft, chunky wool instead of the more typically seen floss. 


woman's hands holding floral tree print with in-progress yarn embroidery

She says, "The pink advent calendar kit has been by far the most popular product I’ve ever designed.  The concept of working a little woven wheel (aka rose stitch) onto the floral tree each day, as a mindful escape from the mayhem Christmas brings, has really been embraced!" 

dried poinsettia hanging basket print with yarn embroidery on basket


Another Christmas project is this decorative hanging basket. Like the calendar, it is digitally printed on archival paper and features pressed poinsettia bracts and leaves that Leah says have a hand-painted sophistication due to the paper's finely textured surface.


There is also a springtime version of the basket that includes pressed iris, aquilegia, catmint, and bluebells from her garden.


pressed purple and fuchsia colored flowers on finely textured paper

She has a MA degree in Constructed Textiles from The Royal Collage Of Art, so was wholly qualified to take on a creative career as a designer of original embroidery patterns combined with pressed flowers.

floral thank you card with yarn embroidery and white ribbon tie placed on kraft paper envelope surrounded by dried flowers

Earlier, Leah worked as a knitting pattern designer for Rowan Yarns and Vogue Knitting, so was adept at writing project instructions. This instinctively led to creating kits and PDF patterns that focus on her love of wool, embroidery, and pressed flowers.


stitched heart on paper held by trouser hanger surrounded by floral wreath, pins, dried flowers


Not only does Leah grow many of the flowers that she preserves, but the stitching is done on museum quality paper that she favors because it goes hand in hand with the high definition giclée printing process that realistically captures her pressed flowers.


 matted yarn embroidered pitcher containing stalks of dried flowers


Leah has informative articles on her website, such as a paper embroidery guide and how to do hand stitching on bespoke paper.


 smiling woman standing outside and holding large bouquet of cosmos flowers


Visit Leah Nikolaou's website, Contempfleury, where she offers seasonal kits, patterns, prints, and original pressed flower/paper embroidery art, and follow her on Instagram, @contempfleury, where she posts her latest designs. She also has an Etsy shop, Contempfleury.


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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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