For a couple of months I’ve been absent from blogland. The day job has been super busy and I’ve been working hard on a couple of commissions and larger projects. Posts on these are coming soon!
Last month though, I did squeeze in a talk and workshop that were so enjoyable, I couldn’t not wax lyrical! Textile artist Cathy Emmott from Dear Emma Designs came to Embroiderer’s Guild to entertain us with the story of her stitch journey. The beginning resonated so much with my own early happy memories; a fascination with Grandma’s button tin, pots of screws and bits and bobs in Grandad’s shed…… I was instantly hooked.
Cathy went on to tell us about her last eight years in more detail, from the confidence she got when all five of her items sold at a craft fair, progressing to designer maker fairs, breakthrough moments, magazine features, the influence of the social media rise and a renewed appetite for handmade items. It’s a tale of opportunities taken.
We also got to find out why the business is called Dear Emma and the significance of the little kite that often features in her work.
Dear Emma Designs regularly feature in Country Living magazine. Cathy’s work is a great fit for a brand that focuses on home and nature.
Last year she was asked to come up with a greeting card range for BugArt who have successfully captured some of the texture of her work in embossed print. This experience, she says was extremely valuable, really having to focus on colour, contrast and layout. Like many artists though she is happiest at home in her garden workshop, designing and stitching her range of delightful applique textile products for the home.
Fortunately for us, Cathy has also taught herself to teach. I’d signed up for her lampshade workshop the following day. After making the little fairy lanterns featured in my New Life for a Vintage Scarf post, I was really keen to explore lampshade making again.
This was one of those marvellous workshops were everything was provided. Cathy buys everything she needs for lampshades from Dannells who have a great range of kits. We just needed to take our machines and a basic sewing kit. It was good to practise free-machining. Not something I do very often.
There wasn’t time to spend ages on a design for a first attempt. We just had to get on with it. For inspiration I’d brought The Book of Bees, my favourite illustrated book. I based my design on some of the flower shapes in there and cut out printed shapes on fabric. Cathy had a lovely selection for us to choose from.
Cathy gave us guidance if we needed advice on our deisgns and went through the construction techniques with us, which were really not too complicated but did need a little concentration. Books and YouTube videos are all very well, but no substitute for real-life demonstrations and a day of banter, creativity and cake with like-minded friends.
Some of the group made smaller lanterns and were able to more or less finish on the day. As with all the best creative workshops, from the same starting point, everyone came home with something quite different.
I completed mine back at home the next day and it’s now lighting up the corner of the living room.
When it’s lit, the texture of the thin linen background and the shapes’ silhouettes are really shown off.
On some of Cathy’s own lanterns, there are cut out areas that let the light shine through. The illuminated windows on the houses make it look as if someone is home.
I really love her charming street scenes.
I thoroughly recommend Cathy’s teaching. If you’d like to have a go too, she regularly runs this and other workshops at Needle and Thread in Lincoln. You can find more info on where she’ll be talking and exhibiting here.
You can follow Cathy on here on Instagram and buy products from her range online. I came home with a few cards and gifts. They are beautifully made and finished. I was particularly taken with her auricular designs and this lovely little fabric pot. I use every day as a thread bin while I crochet. It’s perfect for the job.
It was such a great day, I’ve already booked to go again to make a much bigger shade on a two day workshop. No idea where it’s going to fit in our little house but that’s not the point. It’s all about the process and the learning for me.