What do you make?
I am an artist, author and designer. I make fine art with embroidery, I write books on needlework and update instructions and I design contemporary embroidery patterns in themes that were never available before, through my company, Sublime Stitching. I made it my mission eight years ago to update the aesthetic and resources for hand-embroidery to inspire a new generation of stitchers.
What or who inspires you?
I’m inspired by anyone who has a unique vision that clearly stands apart. You know it when you see it, because it makes you feel something. It makes you feel your own kind of inspiration that can take form in you that is totally unique as well. I feel this is true in art, music, film, writing -anything. There are endless forms that inspiration can take and I think the incredibly diverse offerings of work within the DIY community alone is a remarkable testament to that. For my own work, I often find I’m inspired by what I don’t see. Meaning, I end up looking for something I’m curious about, or have imagined or wanted. Then I seek it out -if I can’t find it, I’ll try to make it myself. That’s how Sublime Stitching was born, after all!
How did you get started?
When I first took up embroidery, I had never tried it before. But once I did, I became completely addicted to it. This was in the summer of 2000, and the handmade movement was just really starting up, but with a heavy focus on knitting. No one was really doing anything with embroidery in the contemporary sense, and there were no new resources for it. I was so taken with embroidery because it’s illustrative (and drawing is my first passion). I wanted to turn other crafters on to it as well, but knew they’d need updated patterns, starter kits and instructions -exactly what I was looking for but couldn’t find anywhere. The idea of tattoo designs for patterns was considered outrageous!
My mission as a company was to change the way people looked at and learned embroidery. I began with a very modest but generous loan of $1,000.00 from my parents, I had to outline an entire budget to my father and account for every dime he loaned me, which I did. It covered my first manufacturing costs, shipping, packaging and my first print ad. They asked that I pay back half once I turned a profit which I did six months later. I never borrowed money again until five years into running the company. I have been very careful about the kind of debt I’ve acquired and have tried to avoid costly loans or over-use of credit cards.
Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
I do! Read my column, “Crafting a Business“! I’ve poured more of what I’ve learned into those columns than I could ever offer up in a few sentences.
What is the hardest and most favourite part of crafting?
The hardest part always comes about two-thirds of the way into a project, when the outcome is still unsure and I’m not yet satisfied with its direction. I always want to abandon the project at that point and start over. I’ve learned to keep at it though and push through that stage. The best part is when you have that “magic momentum” where you are working, but not really thinking –just doing it. That’s the dragon I’m chasing when I work. To enter that zone of creativity and satisfying work and making it last as long as possible. Each time I do a project, I’m hoping that I’ll re-capture that experience. It’s even more satisfying than finishing the work and being happy with the results, for me. Because I look at a piece and I think about how it made me feel as I was working on it, and the finished work is like a record of that experience to me.
images via Jenny Hart / Sublime Stitching