Jessie is an embroidery artist & illustrator, specialising in whimsical homeware, accessories inspired by botanics, mindfulness and colour.
Tell us a bit about how you began your journey into embroidery.
I had experimented with embroidery throughout school and made an embroidered and appliquéd piece for my final A-level art exam – I had next to no idea what I was really doing though and it didn’t quite capture my attention in the way it did a few years later. I did textiles too but dropped it after realising I was utterly terrible at it – weird how things work out! I made my first *real* embroidery piece in 2017 for a Christmas gift. I thought it was the best thing I’d ever made. I completely fell in love with it and it was all I wanted to do from the minute I woke up each day. I was enchanted by the feeling of watching ideas in my head form on the fabric in front of me under my fingers. I grew up on the Welsh coast in a really rural area surrounded by rolling hills and moors and untamed wilderness, where the air is clear enough to see the stars in great detail over a vast blanket of night sky. These things became a huge source of inspiration for me. Each idea led to the next and it snowballed until I eventually turned it into a small biz.
Did you find there were many barriers to maintaining embroidery as a hobby? If so, how did you overcome them?
I have always been either a full time worker or full time student (sometimes both) whilst running my business so finding the time to actually work on it was difficult – especially when it came to recognising burnout. Fine tuning my process, organising ideas and focusing on progression was something I struggled with. I had NO IDEA, literally not one, on how to actually *run* a business and do it properly. In fact, sometimes I still feel like I’m just bumbling along, learning as I go. I did a ton of research. There was a lot of trial and error. But I got there eventually! I wish I’d taken up some sort of intensive small biz course to give me that first much-needed leg up, it would have saved me a lot of time and resources!
Tell us a bit more about why you are so passionate about embroidery.
When I started embroidering, I was suffering really badly from PTSD and the anxiety and depression that came with it was all consuming. Embroidering and illustrating helped bring me back to myself. I think it lasting and cathartic effect of expressing my own creativity has become more of a need than a want. Each stitch and mark both calms me and fills me with joy in equal measure.
What advice would you offer to makers who are thinking of taking up embroidery?
Don’t compare yourself to other artists. It’s a poisonous track to head down. If you’re taking embroidery up, get some mindless stitch practice in – chuck on a film or podcast and perfect those stitches (not that they have to be perfect, just teach your muscle memory to have the feel of the process nailed for when they matter). You don’t have to start off with all the expensive bits and bobs you think you need – the first hoop I ever made was made out of a pillowcase! Kits and patterns are a fantastic way of trying out embroidery too! I would massively recommend keeping a wee sketchbook for your ideas to hone and develop your personal style!