Meet the Maker – Lucy Freeman
We’re excited to introduce you to another wonderful maker this month – Lucy Freeman! Lucy is an embroiderer, print-maker and workshop facilitator based in Sheffield.
We’ve admired Lucy’s designs on Instagram for a long time – and we think you’ll enjoy her vibrant colour palette and the detail and layering in her botanical stitches.
Read on to learn more about Lucy’s process, inspiration and tips…
How did you first get into embroidery?
I studied textiles at University but despite working with fabric all day, I didn’t pick up a needle and thread till after graduating! I loved all the messy processes, particularly printmaking, dying and painting.
My artistic style has always been very playful and expressive, and I saw embroidery as the opposite, restrictive, neat and overly complicated. But that summer I started stitching on top of my printed fabrics and I fell in love with the process!
Not wanting to be bound by instructions or rules, I didn’t follow any patterns or learn the traditional stitches but just jumped in and had a go. I wanted to sew in the same way I would paint or draw, layering up and blending colours, creating expressive marks and interesting textures.
From this freestyle experimentation I developed my own contemporary embroidery style, which continues to change and develop everyday as I try out new ways of sewing and combining techniques.
Can you tell us how your first project went?
My first few attempts were very simple, I embellished screen-printed wall hangings with tiny embroidered details, usually just a few stitches here and there to add to the design.
However my first entirely embroidered project was a wall hanging covered in wiggly Matisse style leaves. Looking back, I can see that my stitching was pretty terrible! But at the time, it felt like a huge accomplishment to have sewn something so large, and that piece inspired me to pursue embroidery further, which I’m so grateful for today.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
The beauty of the natural world, I love exploring the Peak District and hiking in Scotland. I’m that annoying person on a walk who stops every five minutes to point out an interesting looking leaf!
Botanical gardens are also wonderful, we visited Kew gardens lots as a family and I loved the wonder of feeling transported to another environment through the plants and flowers. Colour is also incredibly inspiring, my first creative loves were comics and cartoons, I loved the bright colours and simple imagery.
Then came painters like Van Gogh, Sonia Delaunay and most notably Monet. I was lucky enough to see an incredible exhibition in Paris as a teen where Monet’s paintings from all around the world were brought together, walking around was a masterclass in beautiful, unexpected uses of colour.
What do you love most about the process?
The tactile quality, I’m very drawn to textured surfaces, anything engraved, woven or layered where there’s a visible depth of detail. Embroidery is the perfect playground for creating these interesting textures!
My techniques involve lots of layering stitches on top of each other, I love that you can build up so much detail that it gives a 3-D quality to a usually flat surface. I do also love how slow the process is! It forces me to take time to consider the design choices I’m making, and becomes relaxing as you lose yourself in the repetitive nature of the stitches.
What would be your best advice for those starting out?
Let go of trying to create something perfect and embrace your individual creativity!
As I mentioned earlier, I missed out on the joy of embroidery for ages because I was intimidated by the rule book, there is no wrong or right way to create something, just enjoy yourself and express yourself.
Often the ‘mistakes’ end up being the best things you ever create.
What’s next for you, any upcoming projects you’re working on?
In the last month I launched my first range of embroidery kits with John Lewis, this was a huge project which involved lots of admin and organisation so I’m now taking some time to let loose and get creative again!
I’ve been working on some exciting new floral artwork for Not on the High Street, and am getting back into working on a large scale, creating big embroidered wreaths and banners.
I’m also moving up to Edinburgh, so will be busy with all the planning, packing and excitement of moving house!
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