Meet the Maker: Marna Lunt
24 November 2017
author: Hannah Burgess
This month we're very excited to be introducing our first embroidery craft kit for December, check out the stop motion unboxing here. To mark the occasion we're thrilled to share our interview with maker, embroidery extraordinaire, tutor, artist and all-round inspiration Marna Lunt! We spoke to her about her early embroidery experiences, where she gets her inspiration and the magic effect that stitching has on our wellbeing.
It's a really lovely and thought-provoking interview so grab a cuppa and without further ado.. over to Marna!
"I still consider myself to be a painter, only now instead of oil paints I use thread."
How and where were you first introduced to embroidery?
The first time I ever picked up a needle was at school when I was about 10 and we did the usual church kneelers and cross stitch kits. I really enjoyed doing it but it wasn’t really very creative, it was just following a pattern and I wanted to draw and paint. Painting and drawing and fine art in general has always been my ‘thing’ it was my first love. I dreamt of being an artist and I was very tunnel vision with that. I got my BA(hons) in fine art from the Manchester school of art. I still consider myself to be a painter, only now instead of oil paints I use thread. I painted up until my son was born and then, because he was born with complex needs, painting was no longer viable so I turned to sewing. I don’t even know why I considered it. But somehow it just worked and I’ve been slowly finding my way in it ever since.
"I never got into using a machine - I didn’t have the patience and the noise wasn't fun - hand-stitching was more suited to pop in my bag and I found it more therapeutic."
Can you tell us how your first embroidery project went?
I have to be honest I haven’t a clue what my first project was! I started stitching again because of a change of personal circumstances about ten years ago. I only knew backstitch and used only that to hand-stitch personalised cushions and hearts just after I had my first child about ten years ago. I never got into using a machine - I didn’t have the patience and the noise was not fun - hand stitching was more suited to pop in my bag and I found it more therapeutic. When I realised that backstitch and appliqué wasn’t really helping me to create what was in my head I taught myself embroidery, about 4 years ago now and I can’t stop. At last I’m at the stage where I’m now using it as I used to use paint. I feel like I’m only now coming into my own.
"I find it very exciting what can be done with thread; the surfaces it can cover, the uses it can have and the effects it has on peoples well being"
What do you love most about embroidering?
I love the whole process. I find it very exciting what can be done with thread; the surfaces it can cover, the uses it can have and the effects it has on peoples well being. I think the best thing about it is the good that it can do for people and the sense of achievement it gives.
"My first inspiration is always the North Yorkshire moors. That’s where I grew up and my parents still live there. The layers of colours and the constant change of those colours fascinate me."
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your work?
My first inspiration is always the North Yorkshire moors. That’s where I grew up and my parents still live there. The layers of colours and the constant change of those colours fascinate me. It’s a deep rooted energy that I get from being there and thinking of my time there.
I learnt to pay attention to all my senses by painting and drawing out there and so now I consider sounds, smells and emotions with all my work not just what I’m looking at. It might appear in my work table when I notice a grouping of threads together, I love wool and particularly hand dyed wool with all it variegation. It could be a bow in someone’s hair, a make up palette or a wrapper on the street. Colour is always my biggest place of inspiration it all starts and ends with colour.
"Think of every piece you do as a journey, each time you learn a bit more, and from that piece it might spark off a new idea and on it goes."
What would be your best advice for those starting out to experiment with embroidery techniques?
Just have a go. Don’t think of things being perfect and worry yourself about all these rules people like to tell you, and don’t be hard on yourself. Think of every piece you do as a journey, each time you learn a bit more, and from that piece it might spark off a new idea and on it goes. The most important thing is that you enjoy doing it and that makes every piece a celebration because it’s been time for you to think, be calm, create something that’s all yours.
"I want to shine a light on, not just incredible women like Frida Kahlo, Vivienne Westwood & Sylvia Plath, but on lesser known women that changed our lives.."
What’s next for you, any current or upcoming projects you’d like to share with our readers?
Well, over the Christmas break I’m filming new online courses to be launched next year to add to my already rather popular online learning video courses. I’ll also be creating more patterns for people to make their little worms of art from my drawings. I’m going to continue my retreats and teaching but cutting down on them massively to make more time for my own work. I struggle constantly with my own mental health so that will be a priority, to get well and stay well. My own work is becoming more portrait based at the moment, I’m working on a large scale project of creating lampshades with inspiration all women seen on them (working title is Guiding Lights). I want to shine a light on, not just incredible women like Frida Kahlo, Vivienne Westwood & Sylvia Plath, but on lesser known women that changed our lives. I hope to exhibit this work but as yet I’m still building up the pieces so definitely watch this space and you can follow my progress on my Instagram @marnalunt.
We would love to thank Marna for such a wonderful and inspiring interview; we just want to get stuck into some embroidery now... We hope you love her work as much as we do! You can have a better look at her work, retreats and classes on her website. As she mentioned in the interview, keep up to date with everything over on her instagram. As well, Marna is a keen pinterest-er (like us!), it's a great font of inspiration so check it out here.
All photos courtesy of www.marnalunt.co.uk