Concept to Creation

I’m often asked about the inspiration behind my work and how I translate my photographs into textile pieces. There isn’t a simple answer because the inside of my mind is a strange place but I thought I would share some of my processes.

During my degree, we had a process to follow for each module. We would gather research materials for a visual diary, create drawings and mixed media pieces in a sketchbook, make samples and then use all this to work on a final piece. I know this process works for lots of people but I’ve discovered that my brain works differently.

I still love to research, this might be at a museum, gallery or archive and sometimes on a walk in the woods. My phone is my friend, I love taking pictures of the things I see like lichen and fungi, I can also edit the pictures on my phone and share them on social media. I’m not a sketcher so I go straight from images to fabric and thread.

When I’m looking at my research images, I go to my stash and pull out different fabrics and threads that have the same colour palette or texture. I look at the lines, shapes and textures in the image and think about how I will embroider them and what fabric will work best for that technique.

I’ve been stitching for over thirty years and I love to use different techniques from hand embroidery to patchwork. A newer addition to my skill library is digital embroidery, creating designs in Pfaff 6D software and stitching them out on my Pfaff Creative 3.0 embroidery machine.

I like to keep project books; they help me to gather images from my research and pieces I’ve made with some technical notes. This helps me to organise my thoughts and plan out the next stages of the project, especially when it’s for an exhibition.

Sometime a collection never gets past the development stage. I’m not a believer in mistakes but sometimes a piece doesn’t always say what I thought it would, especially when it’s around themes like mental health. It can be disappointing when something isn’t the way we’d hoped but each piece I make is a learning curve and teaches me something for next time.