Columbine Cross Stitch

Craft & Design Yarncraft



This piece is called “Nothing Much Happened Today (for Eric and Dylan)” and is by artist Noelle Mason. It’s been lovingly carefully stitched by hand, and who knows how long it must have taken. My interpretation: those long hours pay homage to the community around the Columbine High School shooting. I’m sure each stitch was spent deeply considering the implications of the image. The piece measures 50 x 66 inches. Via Radical Cross Stitch.

106 thoughts on “Columbine Cross Stitch

  1. BG says:

    I’m tempted to say this is terrible, as that was my knee jerk reaction. But stuff like this (the shootings at high school) still happen — and not just in predominately white regions.
    I think the wording that Becky used such as “It’s been lovingly stitched by hand, and who knows how long it must have taken” definitely creates the wrong image. There was no love in this — if only a sick love that exists of a morbid celebrity and fan sensation.
    This artist probably wanted to call to attention of what this event symbolized and continues to symbolize, not immortalize them or glorify their cause. If there was any immortalization, inadvertant and it was most likely to the fact that violence in our youth culture is an emerging, disturbing trend.
    Don’t kill the messenger. Kill the messege.
    Also — don’t use the words “lovingly” in the same content as a school shooting. Now THAT’S bad taste.

  2. Columbine Cross Stitch Becky Stern says:

    When I spend hours and hours embroidering my MRI slides from my broken knee, I’m paying loving attention to something that’s really painful and hard to work through; that’s what I meant to imply. I’m sure not a stitch went by when Noelle didn’t mourn for all those struck by the tragedy of the events at Columbine, and that time spent is an homage. The message (that shouldn’t be killed) is to remember this event so we can work on preventing such tragedies in the future. To spend so much time dedicated to such a disturbing image is an artful, thoughtful, and honorable act which I wanted to share with you by posting this.

  3. Colleen says:

    This is unsettling to say in the least. Why you’d want a stitched reminder of this is beyond me. Im going to have to agree that this is in quite poor taste.

  4. Bailey says:

    As someone who lived very close to Columbine High school at the time of this atrocity I am sick that A. someone would actually take the time to make this when there are so many other beautiful subjects and B. that you would actually post about it. When I saw the photo in my reader my heart dropped and many images from that day came rushing back to me. It is offensive.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s a wonderfully haunting rendering of the original image, but the compression used on the cross-stitch looks like it’s from 1999 as well. Some nicer dithering would make it look less like a posterize filter.

  6. Amy says:

    I am alarmed that Craft would publish this. While it’s true that art can and sometimes should be controversial, that only rings true when it challenges the viewer in some way. This piece is not challenging; it is not beautiful, or cerebral, or spiritual. I visit this site and subscribe to Craft’s Twitter to soak up creativity, but the immortalization of two child killers does not fall into that category- no matter how many stitches were “lovingly” included.

  7. Joy says:

    You seriously compared a knee surgery to the senseless killings at Columbine? You are as bad as the artist.

  8. Columbine Cross Stitch Becky Stern says:

    Nah, I compared the /pain/ of knee surgery and /recovery time/ to the /pain/ and /psychological trauma/ a third-party community non-member feels about the killings. Let me re-phrase: the time spent on the craft is spent deeply considering the implications of the image.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I thought Craftzine was about truly creative craft people and the art they create. The squirrel feet earrings were funny if a little offputting but this is downright disrespectful to so many people. Not really in the Craftzine spirit!!:(

  10. Shawn Connally says:

    The technique and shading are amazing! It’s really a very interesting and disturbing piece, and I appreciate you posting it. The title is reminiscent of the song, “I don’t like Mondays,” which I love, but it always creeps me out a little bit, given what it’s in reference to.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It was YOUR knee and YOUR recovery…This is not her pain nor is it any type of recovery. Did she think of those killed, I think not. Her title alone implies that. No other words about it aside from this caption. It is disgusting.

  12. Patti Schiendelman says:

    Really, the squirrel foot earrings were more of a crafty trifle, though they did provoke some really interesting debate. This piece is art, it’s moving and has depth. I think it’s a lot about witnessing, like Elie Wiesel’s book Night. Wiesel has said survivors have the responsibility to make sure events are not forgotten. Wiesel witnesses with words; Mason witnesses with yarn.

  13. biphenyl says:

    I see this as more of a historical or journalistic piece. It’s simply recording an event that happened in an interesting medium and making no direct comment on it. It leaves any interpretation to the viewer. I don’t see it as condoning the shootings, or aggrandizing the shooters — it’s simply presenting the scene as it happened.
    It’s very well-executed. I remember seeing these clips on the news at the time and it’s emulated the original images almost perfectly — down to the grainy video and the timestamp on the bottom.

  14. Sabrina says:

    I am quite impressed by the work. It looks just like the image that I’ve seen and it is very well done. Although, it seems, a lot of people seem offended by this I respect you for posting. It is, in a way, a work of art. There are pictures of many terrible things and no one complains about them. Look at it as what it truly is, some ones work.

  15. Anonymous says:

    there are so many commenters clearly offended by this piece, as it isn’t the usual eye candy offered up by craft, it’s something with depth. it has started a conversation. i don’t know that many other pieces i’ve seen on this site have done that, and because of that, the artist is to be commended. i don’t think the fact that it makes people uncomfortable makes it “bad craft”, or worth taking down. it SHOULD make us uncomfortable. it’s showing the power of our instruments and materials. do i want to see pictures of these boys? not so much. am i drawn in by the intricate detail and sheer perfection of the piece? absolutely. am i unconsciouly taking a moment to meditate on the events of that day and feeling my heart swell? you betcha. if you ask me, mission accomplished.

  16. Morgane says:

    I don’t see as how this is appalling. The title, to be sure, is whimsically creepy. But I think that adds to the sense of sadness. I’d find it really interesting to see a whole series like this, personally, little snapshots of footage from pivotal moments that, whether we like to admit it or not, changed our country. We never expect to see security camera footage, half the time we forget they’re there at all, so it’s an interesting image to see.

  17. Melissa says:

    I’m very disappointed. Who are we to judge this person’s art? Would you say the same thing about an embroidery of 9/11? As a New Yorker, those images still make my heart drop, but there are still countless yellow ribbons and craft-related projects. If you visit the artist’s site, she takes several uncomfortable subjects and turns them into art. I refuse to judge what is in “bad taste.” Even those performance artists who use their own “fluids” in their art. I may think it’s distasteful, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t art. It’s just not up to us to decide. And I applaud Craft: for not always playing it safe and for making us think.

  18. Nicole says:

    The artist’s description is to call attention to how images shape us, the “subtle seductiveness of power facilitated by systems of visual control.” I like this piece because it is not just beautifully done, it is controversial. Artistic expression is often a way to shift perspectives — to see beauty in tragedy, to protest injustice, to expand our understanding of what it is to be human.

  19. Dominique says:

    I’m glad people are offended and upset, you should be. But direct that to who deserves it, those boys. Art reflects life and if you would rather stick your head in a basket full of yarn or a box full of ribbon then take notice that injustice and inhumane acts happen all of the world at every moment then YOU should be ashamed of yourself. Bravo CRAFT for not censoring true works of art because the subject matter might offend those who choose to be easily offended.

  20. Joy says:


  21. Phillip Torrone says:

    1. this is art, and art is dealing with pain, at least good art usually is.
    2. all the “tacky” “bad taste” comments are always drive by anonymous commenters, why is that? one reason – half the time they’re folks who just want to see a comment fight – they really don’t care about the post, i’m on “MAKEcation” but if i were becky i would just delete many of the comments here and encourage the commenter(s) to email me if they have a problem (no one ever has in the past when i’ve done that).
    3. there’s nothing wrong with the word lovingly, ever paint a picture for someone who died? it’s possible to put great care and love in something that’s tragic, shocking, morbid. this image was etched in all our brains, and it still is – sometimes you need to create art to get rid of images too….
    4. as far as the 9/11 comments go, c’mon — i live 2 blocks from the trade center – there is a lot of art in the nyc that deals with the pain, anger and new opportunities for a better future.
    becky, this was a good post – haters, i hope becky removes the drive-by comment-snarks…

  22. Carrie says:

    I don’t normally comment on Craftzine posts, though I do subscribe to it via the LJ feed. There are a LOT of projects where I can see the time that went into a piece but wouldn’t call it “art” as much as it is crafty. There are other pieces where someone had a cool idea, spent 45 seconds on it (a plate and a cup glued together to make a cake plate? not a lot of skill involved) and called it done. Both of those things are ok. Whether or not I think it’s Art or I think it’s skillful doesn’t really matter. As far as I can tell Craftzine is about showcasing other people’s works and ideas and talents in the hopes of inspiring people at home to think “Hey, I could do that!”
    The Columbine embroidery is something you could do at home, with a pixelated image and a whole lot of time. If you don’t like the image, make something similar of an image you do think is appropriate. Be inspired to make something of your own, something unique! Don’t like it? Then don’t make it. There are plenty of things shown on this site that I would never make, and that’s ok.
    The problem comes when you decide that your “taste”, your viewpoint, your social or “moral” position is more important than the artists, or the other people who might appreciate it. Everyone has a right to express themselves through art, and if you want to consider yourself a decent person you have an obligation to be respectful of the effort even if you don’t like the subject.

  23. Columbine Cross Stitch Becky Stern says:

    Phil’s right. If the flamebaiters whose comments I’ve deleted want to talk more about it, or anybody else, feel free to email me at

  24. Samantha M. says:

    I don’t blame CRAFT for posting this. In fact, in my reaction to the art, I didn’t even think for a second that CRAFT should be accountable. My issue is with the artist and the artist alone.
    Do I like this piece? NO. I’m really uncomfortable with it, actually. BUT it’s a good point brought up by other commenters that Art’s intention is to sometimes make you uncomfortable. Still doesn’t make me like the piece, but that’s my personal taste. As an English teacher (so I look at words very seriously and methodically), I have more of an issue with the title, to be honest, which seems sarcastic and flippant to ME. I can understand the piece on its own, the title is what gets to me. But I don’t think the poster has anything to apologize for.

  25. Melissa says:

    Thanks, Joy!
    My point was that art isn’t neat and tidy and you can’t avoid art dealing with violence. Good for the artist to have the courage to make it and good for Make: for having the courage to post it.

  26. Melissa says:

    Thanks, Joy!
    My point was that art isn’t neat and tidy and you can’t avoid art dealing with violence. Good for the artist to have the courage to make it and good for Make: for having the courage to post it.

  27. kath says:

    This is art, not craft. Such intensely subjective art shouldn’t be on a craft site. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

  28. Megs says:

    I was in high school at the time of the Columbine shootings. I remember having to think about whether nor not I felt safe going to school again. It easily could have been my life cut down so early.
    This is a haunting image, it is hard to look at, it is hard to think about. But it’s sure a lot better than not remembering. We need things like this, “memento mori”s so to speak, to remind us of the fragility of our own lives and those around us. It’s painful, but it should be. Things like this are not easily to heal from, and there are countless ways to find peace. Kudos to the person who made this, I think it’s brave. Kudos to craftzine for posting it. We always need more open dialogue about difficult things.

  29. Zaniac says:

    Thanks for posting this, Becky, I read CRAFTzine every day, and I love to see controversial works out and about. People need to step out of their comfort zones and get a reality check once in a while.

  30. peggy says:

    If you have no sympathy for the families of the murdered students, you should feel for the families of the murderers. A BAD decision!

  31. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure this comment will be highly criticized, maybe even deleted, but when it comes to this topic I must speak my voice. Firstly, I do not find this work offensive. I’m sure some people see this as sort of a grim tribute to two high school shooters, and well, maybe in a way it is. The victims of this tragedy include not only those shot by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, but the shooters themselves. Their families mourned the loss of Eric and Dylan just as families of the other victims mourned their losses. I DO NOT condone their actions whatsoever, but from what I have read these boys were so misunderstood, mistreated, bullied and humiliated prior to the shootings, I can’t help but feel sorry for them as well. This piece simply reminds me of all of the victims involved. It does not outrage me, it simply makes me sad.

  32. Lauren says:

    This piece is incredibly well made (I think “lovingly” was the correct word), and a gorgeous tribute to the tragedy that happened in Columbine. How many of us spent as much time and care in thinking about this event that Noelle Mason did? I’m glad to see that Craft remains unafraid to post examples of heart-wrenching art alongside wedding favor tutorials, amigurimi patterns and cupcake recipes. Craft doesn’t have to be cute or pretty to be good (although I think this piece is beautiful in its craftsmanship and intensity), and I hope that Craftzine continues to reflect crafters as serious, brave artists, rather than as the frivolous hobbyists (or consumerists) that some people in the art world would like to pigeonhole us as. Taste, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but just because you don’t like a piece, or it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean Craft shouldn’t publish it.

  33. Cross Stitch Fan says:

    From reading this – – it turns out that the piece took five years to make and is part of a series of other works looking at “the subtle seductiveness of power facilitated by systems of visual control”.
    It’s certainly a powerful piece of work, but I’m glad to see the oft-maligned genre of cross stitch being used for something as thought provoking as this.

  34. Kiri says:

    I have never commented on here before, but I want to say how offended I am at the people who are offended by this post; specifically how they go about expressing their feelings. To pass judgment on another regarding their intent, their emotions, and the ways they choose to mourn, grieve or pay respect to something, and to conclude – in what I find to be an extremely oppressively arrogant way – that this person is heartless or disrespectful, or anything else, I find to be the truly offensive act. Mourning and grief are expressed in countless different ways, none of them wrong, but all of them idiosyncratic. You may not be able to understand or sympathise with the medium chosen, but try to see it for what it is; the artist’s way of working through her feelings around the event and acknowledging how some very unhappy and unwell boys felt that their only way to escape how they were feeling was to commit so drastic and final an act. I also think it is an interesting commentary on America’s relationship with guns; how many times do unhappy, unwell kids have to shoot up their schools before people realise that it’s a bad idea to have guns so widely available?
    Joy, typing your response and using language which is offensive to people with developmental disabilities does not make your point any more right. I would not usually pass comment, as each to their own, but you have been so generous and indeed forceful with your opinions that I will share mine with you. I find your use of the word “moron” highly offensive. “Moron” was and still is one of the many unpleasant terms, such as “idiot”, “retard”, “spastic”, “mongol” and so on, used to depersonalise and dehumanise people with developmental problems such as Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy (before anyone bothered to notice that some people have “normal” IQs just stuck inside a body they couldn’t control), and various other syndromes and conditions. I find the use of these words horribly offensive, particularly when used in the context you have used. People with developmental disabilities have as much worth as you or I, so I would be grateful if you could refrain from using unpleasant terms for them as insults. It is very unkind. Thanks.
    Lastly, Becky, I shouldn’t bother defending yourself so much were I you, the people to whom you are defending yourself are hell-bent on being offended. Your initial comment about knee surgery was plainly obvious in what you were trying to say; the people who “misunderstood” you clearly have done so just because they enjoy being aggrieved and self righteous. Just feel comfortable in the knowledge that the majority of your readers are sensible people who don’t feel the need to take offense at absolutely everything.

  35. sick says:

    There was a shooting at my school in 1997 where two students were killed. I was friends with the shooter and the victims. My brother was injured from this.
    There is a time for satire and irony, but this isn’t it. Making this and then titling it ‘nothing much happened today’ is just about one of the sickest, most hateful, most disrespectful things I’ve seen. Will there be holocaust pictures with balloons and confetti next? I’m removing craft from my feed.

  36. Karen says:

    This piece has made me feel very uncomfortable. As a crafter I see each thing I make as a labour of love and so find it difficult to imagine the motivation for each stitch. I wonder if most of the negative comments stem from the fact we’re not used to seeing horrifying images on this site; if I’d seen it on one of the art sites I subscribe to I would probably be less shocked.

  37. Jbowman says:

    I resent this piece and Craft posting it, as well as the implication by commenters that if I dont appreciate it, I cant appreciate art. This piece seems to me to glorify or sympathize with those who took innocent lives for their own personal gratification. And its posting, to specifically invoke reaction.
    I resent the implication I need a piece of “art” to teach me something….who do you think you are, my mother? Thats very elitist thinking in my opinion.
    I know how I feel about Columbine, and sympathy for the murderers is not included in those feelings. And the subject matter could have been treated very differently by the artist if that was NOT their intent.
    I dont come to this website for this. Or to be told I am a “hater” or small minded if I cant appreciate it. The only reason I am commenting at all is to let the poster know I disagree completely and I am not about to feel as if I lack something because I am offended by the “loving” (gag) attention to detail in this piece. I think the artist and poster lack something, called decency.

  38. vie says:

    This is something that the person who made it needs to keep to him/herself. I was very disturbed by this . If the person who did it had family or children involved I suggest they get more help. Your site is not for this kind of “art”. I do not expect “painful” “art” on one the craft sites I visit.

  39. noelle mason says:

    I have really enjoyed reading all of your comments, the discussion is really great. I do want to say that there is nothing ironic about the work. the title “nothing much happened today” is a quote from king goerge III’s journal. It was the only entry on the day the revolutionary war began. that was ironic. however, when it comes to columbine…nothing much happened that day because nothing of any value happened the day after columbine. sure our schools got more prison-like, which will only ensure even more of the alienation which allows, even promotes this sort of behavior in the first place. nothing happened to really change ‘us.’ as a society we did what we always do when such tragic events happens, which is to find a scapegoat, some unfortunate person or ideology which does not support the ruling classes agenda. we did it with columbine, we did it with 9/11, we will keep doing it until we get the balls to look in the mirror and say “what did i do yesterday that made this possible? that day, from my community college classroom in san diego california, I made it possible for dylan and eric to go into a school and murder and maim 12 innocents. until we really begin to reevaluate our own responsibility for the culture that we create, the literal ‘fabric’ of society (our seems these days to be knit together by surveillance cameras), and take responsibility for even things we didn’t do (a social adopt a highway program,) until we look at ourselves as the cause nothing much will continue to happen.
    there was a phrase which was worn on pins around the country after this incident. “we are all columbine.” I would argue that in order for a tragedy like columbine to have any real meaning we must change this phrase to “we are all eric and dylan.”
    so this one is for eric and dylan because it is for myself

  40. joy says:

    1. Informal, derogatory a foolish or stupid person
    AKA the person who thought this was art.

  41. ChicagoJenn says:

    Clearly, we are all entitled to our opinions, and what we want to do with our spare time. I consider this to be in extremely poor taste. There are better ways to use your talents. This is just ugly, offensive, scary, and warped.
    That’s just my own 2 cents.

  42. Kiri says:

    and stop being so pig-headedly determined to be offended, and the “moral majority”, you would understand what I said. I know it is in common use as a slang term to mean stupid, but it’s ORIGIN is as a label for people with a learning disability. Much like “nigger” is now used amongst black people in hip hop, it was originally (and still amongst many) an offensive term.
    “Moron” was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard from the Greek word moros, which meant “dull” (as opposed to “sharp”), and used to describe a person with a mental age located between 8 and 12 on the Binet scale. It was once applied to people with an IQ of 51-70, being superior in one degree to “imbecile” (IQ of 26-50) and superior in two degrees to “idiot” (IQ of 0-25). The word moron, along with others including “retarded”, “idiotic”, “imbecilic”, “stupid”, and “feeble-minded”, was formerly considered a valid descriptor in the psychological community, but it is now deprecated by psychologists.
    Stop being so self-assuredly arrogant, when you are being wrong and deliberately misunderstanding people. You are demanding respect that you are refusing to give to others, and frankly, that is gross. If you would deign to be polite and good mannered, rather than patronising, I would be more inclined to be polite in my responses.

  43. Tits McGee! says:

    Well said Noelle. It’s truly a moving piece. Both your words and the artwork.

  44. Doober says:

    The work that went into this is remarkable. Not all craft pieces need be cheerful bunnies and cute knit clothing, this was well thought out. As far as being in bad tastes, not at all. We all deal with tradgedy in our own way, this is simply a unique and well done piece.

  45. Kari says:

    I’m not sure where my feelings fall on this piece. I know I was shocked to see that someone had chosen this image for such an intricate piece of work, but I did recognize the quote and its implications. I think, while this may not have been the most effective way of expressing what was trying to be said, the point has still been made; however, most people will shudder and look the other way becuase of the uncomfortable nature of the subject. Much the same as people making art out of the debris of the World Trade Center or from found objects at Buchenwald, sometimes trying to use a difficult subject to make a point only makes the subject more difficult. I do admire the guts it took to, not only create this, but also to post it; however, I’m afraid most will only criticize and walk away. Maybe artists should not spend so much time focusing on the details of their own mind in a project and actually take the time to consider the finished image.

  46. noelle mason says:

    “I think, while this may not have been the most effective way of expressing what was trying to be said, the point has still been made; however, most people will shudder and look the other way becuase of the uncomfortable nature of the subject. Much the same as people making art out of the debris of the World Trade Center or from found objects at Buchenwald, sometimes trying to use a difficult subject to make a point only makes the subject more difficult.”
    the ‘point’ is to make the subject more difficult

  47. BG says:

    Thanks for revising the wording. We don’t mean to give you grief, it’s just our sensitive sensibilities going into overdrive.

  48. Kiri says:

    I believe that I understand where you are coming from.
    I get very tired of people who want to avoid things which upset them. As probably rather evident from other posts, I work with people with learning disabilities. People often “don’t want to know” about the atrocious things that they go through and have gone through because “it’s horrible”. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. You have to acknowledge things which are uncomfortable in order to address them.

  49. Sharon says:

    Thank you for showing this piece of art. I love the title also. It has provoked talk in my home as some thought it was tasteless like others here have.
    I thank you for not censoring content on your pages (illegal activity not withstanding!) and for showcasing ALL art, not just the pretty, cutesy stuff.
    THANK YOU!!!!

  50. Jen says:

    I’m sorry this post generated so much criticism. I thought it was a provocative piece. The craftsmanship was well executed and I like to see the intersection of art, craft, and culture. Thanks for posting this. I don’t think CRAFT deserved the flack it got.

  51. Michelle Schilz says:

    probably one of the first pieces of cross-stitch I can actually relate to–so much of it is *so* twee. You deserve congratulations for taking a time-honored craft and turning on its end for the purpose of chilling art.
    Seriously. I wanted to cry when I saw this, just like I cried when I heard the news on the radio for the first time.
    And I agree with the word “lovingly”, for only with a labor of love will someone have labored for so long.
    I am in awe.

  52. Lauren Roberts says:

    That is simply amazing! I was looking at the artists website and realized that I’ve seen her work before at Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota where I’ve displayed work.

  53. delta says:

    kath—what is the difference between art and craft…art=craft=art…embroidery and cross stitch are traditionally a hand craft by an artist…who is to say these aren’t equal…i hated seeing this image again ( i live in colorado) but if art doesn’t challenge us, what’s the point…thanks for having the guts to post this, craftzine…more please…

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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