Name: Jenny Hart
Website links: Jenny Hart, Sublime Stitching
What do you make?
I am an artist, author and designer. I make fine art with embroidery (http://www.jennyhart.net), 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.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
The simplest materials are my favorite: paper and pencil for drawing, plain cotton and embroidery floss. The rest is inspiration and motivation. That the secret ingredient.
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.
List 5 of your favourite links and why you like them
Disclaimer! These are some of my non-needlework related links of interest.
Uniform Freak: Maybe I'm weird, but I love going through this site and looking at all the different types of airline uniforms from around the world. Equally fascinating is the fact that one person has actually managed to collect them and taken the time photograph them on mannequins.
La Coquette: Elisabeth Fourmont’s blog is an envy-inspiring look at her move to Paris (she was born and raised in the States, but her father is French). Oh, and she write for fashion magazines and goes to all the runway shows. She's sweet and funny and is living the life.
Red Velvet Art: The header says "We're taking over the world, and making it soooo cute!" so I don't think I need to explain why this blog is so great.
Pilllpat’s Flickr Sets of French Ephemera: This is an enormous collection of scanned French ephemera. I can't imagine how much time she's spent putting it all together.
Dinosaurs and Robots: Mr. Jalopy and Mark Frauenfelder’s blog with guest bloggers (and I'm one of them). But I do check it regularly to read Mr. Jalopy's funny and endearing entries on fashion and automobiles (he's kind of like a gentleman grease-monkey) along with everyone's unique contributions. Plus, it’s really fun for me to have a site where I can blog about my interests outside embroidery!
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.
Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
For so long there was a stigma about "crafting", which has obviously changed a great deal. I consider myself an artist, only because I don't really think I've earned the "crafter" moniker for myself. I always tell people that the craftiest person I know is Jennifer Perkins (Naughty Secretary Club). I don't sew, or magically bring together lots of materials in new and different ways, which other people do so much better than me. I draw, embroider, and run a business. When people ask what I do, I tell them I'm an artist and designer, because I either make my own art, or I design for other people who craft. Believe me, I wish I had more time for crafting.
(photo images courtesy of Jenny Hart and Sublime Stitching)
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