Notes from the Studio

Unusually, my teaching hasn’t slowed down over summer this year. I’m working on a new project with Leeds Playhouse and teaching at a children’s summer school with Stitch Up. I’m used to much more free time in the studio between July and September so moments when I get to sit and embroider have been few and far between.

When I’m feeling uninspired or run down, I like to take time away from the studio to clear my head. Quiet time this week was a trip to the brilliant Bygone Times near Preston. I’m always inspired by the objects each stall has to offer, looking for pieces to use in my work or around the home. On this trip I was on the lookout for boxes to use in my work and I wasn’t disappointed!

I like to have a connection with any vintage pieces that I buy and I was drawn to the Tupperware, I have a large collection that I still use in the kitchen which came from my grandparents house. My grandma had a box for everything including different types of biscuits. I’ve always wanted a sewing box although I have an entire studio so this little gem was my favourite find. The clock case is really unusual compared to my other pieces and I have to admit, I have no idea what it will become!

I’ve been focusing on hand embroidery this year, working with vintage fabric and thread to create more illustrative pieces. I’m exploring work that talks about my struggle with OCD, a condition which is often portrayed in a comedic way in film and television. There are obvious triggers when exploring my struggles with intrusive thoughts so the work is challenging. I also want to make sure that the piece is about my experiences as each person with this condition experiences different things.

I’m using a vintage cotton sheet and grey thread to create the first part of the piece. It’s challenging to use a large embroidery frame where the fabric is stitched to a cotton tape before rotating the ends to tighten. I’ve been using tracing paper to stitch my design onto fabric, tearing away the paper when the design is finished. It’s tricky process but easier than using a magic pen which fades very quickly on vintage cotton.

If you would like further information about OCD you can visit the Mind website.

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