When and why did you start doing embroidery?
My grandmother taught me to knit but I first embroidered when I was in my 1st year of middle school. Back in those days, schools in England had classes that would teach craft and cooking. I remember that my teacher said I was lucky because I had very nimble fingers and I could become really good at needlework if I kept up with it. Of course I didn’t keep up with it because along came adolescence and boys and all the troubles of being a teenager.
Life didn’t really settle down until I was in my late 20’s and that’s when I picked up the needle and thread again. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed working with them. Embroidering creates a sense of calm I really could have used during those troubled years!
Did you got influenced or inspired by someone on your present development of career path?
很多很多人。今天刺繡的世界當中充滿了這麼多有才華和想像力的藝術家。這以往被視為工藝的，特別是刺繡，被認為只是老太太會做的事。幸運的是，那些老太太會繼續教授下一代。現在我們擁有一個充滿刺繡藝術品的世界，都是非傳統、有趣和美麗的。與這些有才華的人同在一個領域，可以令你變得更有創造力。最影響我的人有：Salley Mavor—她輪廓分明的刺繡似乎不可能造得出來；Ruth Miller—她繡的肖像是令人難以置信的；Terese Agnew —看看她用了30 000件衣服標籤而造出紡織工人肖像的被子，再嘗試告訴我它不會你驚訝無言。我可以列出數百位其他刺繡藝術家，事實上我也有做到！在我Instagram的帳戶上，我每逢星期五都會介紹我的追隨者一位新的、有才幹的刺繡藝術家。
Many, many, many people. The embroidery world today is filled with so many talented and imaginative artists. It used to be that craft, and embroidery in particular was considered something just for old ladies. Fortunately those old ladies continued to teach the next generation and now we have a world filled with embroidered artwork that is non-traditional and fun and so beautiful. Being in a pool with such talent inspires you to be more creative.
The people who I have been most influence by are: Salley Mavor – her relief embroidery seems impossible, Ruth Miller – her embroidered portraits are incredible and Terese Agnew – just look at her quilt of Portrait of a Textile worker, made from 30 000 clothes tags and tell me it doesn’t blow your mind.
I could list hundreds of others and in fact I do! On my Instagram account, every Friday I introduce my followers to a new talented embroidery artist.
Which work were you most satisfied with?
真像蘇菲的選擇！我的作品當中都有著我自豪的東西，因此很難選擇。一件我為朋友付出了最大的努力的作品—我稱之為Katherine’s Carousel。這是Katherine送給她兩位女兒的禮物。她要求我在刺繡一個在New Orleans，她帶她的女兒遊玩的旋轉木馬，這是她們最喜歡的地方。這是我面積最大的一塊作品，尺寸為22英寸乘18英寸，花了我約3個月的時間。它包含了各種針步，包括最普通的到更精緻的金色針步。這帶給了我很多樂趣。
That’s like Sophie’s Choice! It’s hard to choose because they all have something I’m proud of. The one I put most effort into was a piece for a friend of mine – I called it Katherine’s Carousel. It was a gift from Katherine to her two daughters. She asked me to entirely embroider a portrait of the carousel in New Orleans where she takes her daughters. It’s their favorite place to be. It was my largest piece measuring at 22 inches by 18 inches and took me about 3 months to make. It included all kinds of stitches from normal surface stitches to more elaborate gold work stitches. It was a lot of fun to make.
What feelings or styles you wanted to show the audiences when you first started the projects?
It depends on the piece. When I’m working with a customer, we talk (or email) for a long time so they can tell me what they want their piece to convey. Often it is a happy memory or a lesson they want to be reminded of everyday. Sometimes - especially with the houses I embroider, people just want to commemorate the happy feeling of ‘home’.
For my own pieces, I’m very drawn to themes of home, nature and flowers in particular.
Where did your ideas come from?
My ideas come from focusing on the tiny details in-between. I like to look closely at the subject of my embroidery and draw out the little things that we overlook and then make a feature of it. I try to consider whether that detail looks like a stitch I may have seen before and what colors or thread will make it stand out.
What is your daily working procedures?
I get up in the morning and do yoga or meditate. It helps to focus the mind and move the body because I know I’ll be sitting still for many hours later in the day.
Once I have my coffee or tea I check my email and do any other quick computer work.
Next I settle down to embroider until lunch time and then again until late afternoon when I clean up and prepare for the next day.
Have you overcome some challenges?
With the level of detail that goes into my work, it’s been a constant battle of being able to take on as many commissions as I can but also produce high quality embroidery. Last year I had to shut down my business because I began suffering Repetitive Strain Injury from working too much for too long. I finally decided that I couldn’t “do it all”. I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice the quality of my work or my style in order to mass produce embroidery. All I was left with was to cut down on the amount of pieces I do. Now I will only take at most 15 commissions a year. Twice a year, I have openings for customers which I advertise on a first come first serve basis. They fill up very quickly and some customers have to wait a few months for their piece but we work together closely during that time and all seem happy when they receive their piece. This style of working is much more productive for me and a happy embroiderer makes happy art!
Which is the most difficult part in your embroidery creatures?
Getting started. I am the worst procrastinator on the planet so sitting down to embroider is the biggest challenge I will face every day.
Which is the most enjoyable part to you?
Watching the work come together. Sometimes it can take a long time for the piece to look like it’s supposed to; it always seems like its missing something. Then one day, when you’re so angry at the work and are just about to give up, it all comes together and looks amazing. It makes everything worthwhile and it’s especially wonderful when the customer receives it and is just as happy with it as I am.
What is your motivation for your work?
I am always amazed how fabric, needle and thread are able to culminate from benign objects into something that can illicit emotion. How the right choice of colors and stitches can turn into an expression of home or make people say “WOW”! I’m always striving to do that.
Would you continue your brand ten years later?
I’ll continue to embroider for the rest of my life but I think my brand will change and expand and head in directions I can’t predict. Nothing stays the same, if it does it whither and dies. I do hope that it grows into something that I’m proud of and that it has influence other people in some way.
If you could, what will you tell your future self in ten years?
I’d say, “Hello older self; wow you sure have aged beautifully! I’m sorry that I gave you wrist arthritis but your work is amazing so it must have been worth it.”