I’m delighted to be running this Question & Answer profile of Jessica Taylor, a new British designer of needlepoint (tapestry in the UK) kits. You can find her kits at JessicaTaylorMade.
What inspired you to do tapestry?
It is not what inspired me but rather who My Grandmother bought my first tapestry kit at the age of 7 and taught me how to stitch. We used to sit together for hours on end stitching. I looked up to her talent and loved her enormous sofa covered with her beautiful cushion creations. As I grew with confidence I would pick up her more complicated tapestry and complete a section, later being proud that it was a joint effort. Over the years I have tried embroidery, cross stitch and long stitch but always come back to my real passion, tapestry.
Can you recall your first tapestry piece?
My first kit was a small swan design. I was so delighted when I completed it and my Grandmother helped me to finish it and put in a frame. I only wish I still had it or could find the original kit to buy again so I can teach my daughter when she is old enough.
Why did you start designing your own kits?
I became a mother to a gorgeous, squidgy daughter recently and it seemed like the best time to set up something for myself which I really enjoy doing and will always have time for. The main aim of JessicaTaylorMade was to design modern and appealing creations for the more discerning. I could not find kit designs on the market to satisfy my passion and was bored of the dull floral or animal tapestries available. I am fed up of stitching numerous kits and not wanting to display them or even give them to friends and family as gifts!
PHOTO; WHITE SUN
What influences your designs?
I am quite addicted to using shapes and lines to create pattern. I like order and combining simple shapes to create an overall beautiful form. I have been influenced by numerous trips to Morocco and Turkey where there are such beautiful patterns everywhere; pavements, columns, mosques and palaces. I have taken inspiration from these and simplified them to create my tapestry designs. I am strongly attracted to bright colours which is part of my heritage, being half Nigerian and having my Grandmothers influence. She would wear traditional, brightly coloured Nigerian dress everyday despite the cold British weather.
Do you exhibit your work, have a shop, or sell your work in any way?
I launched my website as my main point of sale in April this year, after just having my Facebook page and doing bespoke commissions for people who contacted. I built the website myself from scratch which I am pleased with as being technical with computers in not my strength. I have attended many markets, mainly in London and now more locally to Marlborough where I live.
Do you do your work in a studio or special place? Do you think your surroundings are important to your process?
I have a few places I love to stitch, mainly somewhere snuggly and warm with good light. I do think tapestry stitching is quite seasonal and I find I do a lot more in the winter months curled up on my leather chair with a glass of wine. Or on a leather chair at my local pub with a roaring fire. Stitching on holiday in the sunshine al fresco is often just as relaxing if not more so than getting into a good book. Your surroundings are important, it needs to be peaceful with few distractions, a place where you can switch off and give stitching 90% of your attention, the other 10% on the TV, your husband, or glass of wine.
What do you think is the best way to learn tapestry?
I would say just start, don’t choose a kit that is too complicated and select one with a coloured canvas to give you more of a guide. I know people who were terrified because the canvas is large, but stitching is supposed to be a slow progressive hobby and so it may take months to finish. But the sense of pride and achievement once it is completed is amazing. The feeling when someone comes to your home and asks where you bought your cushions and you say actually I made it, is like no other.
I have designed my kits to be simple to stitch and can be ideal for complete beginners with few colours and simple shapes, all straight lines! I include in depth instructions which you can take step by step and as long as you start in the middle and work your way out the outcome will be lovely I’m sure! Think of it as an adult paint by numbers combined with dot to dot and be brave!