Formed in 2009 by artist Mary Smull, SPUN has a short history, but an exciting one. The idea was born when Smull’s 96 year-old grandmother gave her the gift of a partially finished embroidered tablecloth. Smull was stricken to discover that the object still inspired feelings of guilt for her grandmother, who had begun the tablecloth in the 1960s and never completed it. Worse yet, Smull herself began to feel guilty, for she was also not completing the tablecloth. Figuring that the experience could not be particular to her or her grandmother, she launched into an exploration of the phenomenon of unfinished textile objects.

She finally settled on unfinished needlepoint as her personal mission. “I can’t save them all,“ Smull states, “as much as I’d like to take on the project.” Smull began buying unfinished needlepoint projects on eBay in 2008. At the time, she was a graduate student at the Cranbook Academy of Art, and decided to complete these projects using only white yarn. This strategy meant that the needlepoint was “finished” structurally while maintaining a visual record of the stitches the original maker completed before abandoning the project. The resultant compositions are a curious combination of the original design of the needlepoint project, an anonymous maker’s accomplishment (or lack thereof), and Smull’s intervention.



Mary Smull is an artist and educator living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally

in South Korea and Canada.

Her website can be viewed at www.marysmull.com