Wow, so I am finally doing this! Let me start off by saying that embroidery was the most random source of happiness for me this year. I never thought "hey, 2016 will be a year of ups and downs, but one steadfast source of joy, amusement, relaxation and inspiration will be embroidery." It was not really on my radar until this year. When people ask me how and why I got started, I think of a few things:
- My grandmother, Sally Pardini (aka Waka Sally), was amazing at embroidery. She was an artist, a teacher, a cook, and the most fashionable, crazy-kind, sassy, subtly shade-throwing person I ever met. I find that 2016 is the year I sort of started to become my grandmother, which most people would probably not always consider a compliment for a twentysomething. But to me, it is!
The list of things I love about her and her life is endless—she was a world traveler who kept extensive journals, a gardener, a seamstress, an art teacher, a painter, a decorator, a Steelers fan, a young 2x divorceé, a dog lover, and a Pittsburgh native. We both went to Carnegie Mellon Universtiy to study art. She knew Andy Warhol. She dreamed of living in New York City.
This year, I found myself surrounded by plants, sketching up embroidery designs using the window as a tracing table, trying to cook all of her recipes (mainly deviled eggs, lasagne, and fettucinne alfredo), appreciating dogs, watching the Steelers and Pens games at sports bars around Brooklyn, cutting flower arrangements, telling it like it is, etc.
There comes a point in time when you just have to admit to yourself that you are like your family. Maybe picking up embroidery has a genetic component; by doing what she did, I'm learning a little bit about her life (and mine). It's definitely one of many things that naturally calms me down and makes me feel like I am having way too much fun/getting away with something. It's the only thing that feels truly freeing. It's not as hard as writing. When I'm embroidering, I'm at play. I'm also communicating with others, and in some ways, with her. When I am stitching, I am remembering her.
- I just felt like it. Adulting is really difficult. I just wanted to do something fun with tangible results. I wanted to learn a skill. It was partially "wow everything is so much more confusing than I ever thought it would be but I'm going to be zen" and "fuck it." It became a way of working out frustration in a straightforward, visual way. When I felt frustrated/disillusioned by the poetry world** (lol) embroidery felt like a completely untouchable, expressive, and joyful way to depart from tense and exhausting environments.
- It was a quicker, low-pressure way to "make art" while working a very intense full time job and simultaneously finishing my grad school thesis at NYU. There just wasn't time to do what I really wanted to do, which was retreat from the world and write books/make things full time with no interruption. If I don't make something every day I go crazy, and these pieces don't demand perfection. Just presence.
- It brings joy to others! It's a concrete way I can tell someone "I appreciate you" or "thank you" or "I think you're weird as hell and will never forget you." There is nothing better than making something for someone you care about, or creating a commissioned gift for someone else—especially a piece of art that can live with them for a long time. It has a certain warmth that language sometimes doesn't.
- I got surprisingly positive reactions to my projects. When I posted something on Facebook about finishing my MFA, people commented "nice work" etc. But when I posted an embroidery of two hedgehogs partying, it got literally hundreds of replies. People were like "OH MY GOD HOW DID YOU DO THAT?" As a creative person/artist, nothing makes me happier than making something that makes other people feel excitement.
I think that's it. Thanks for checking out my shop! I would really love to work on some projects for the holidays or hear from you about what kind of designs you'd like to see. There are so many stitches I want to learn and the best way to do that is by stitching. Hit me up!
* you would not think that poetry could be motivated by the desire for fame/power/status and most people laugh when I tell them that's a thing, but let me tell you, it's real. And it makes me really, really pissed. To me, poetry (and art) is the opposite of the pursuit of fame/greed/status. It's supposed to derive from and communicate the truth of existence. It has nothing to do with wealth and fame. It belongs to all people. Not just one power-hungry, ambition-fueled person. Also, if you're writing poetry to be "famous" you might want to check in with the rest of the world about how much, who, and what they read. Hint: some people don't even know who T.S. Eliot is. #WakaMode