Well 1st of all I would like to say a big sparkly HELLO to all the stitchery witchery fansicles out there!
My name is Lou Gardiner and if asked at a party what I do for a living I now confidently say 'I'm a contemporary embroideress.' Most people at this point smile sympathetically and look a bit perplexed. 'I am an artist' I would further explain sipping my sherry. 'I use embroidery, fabric, paint, ink and thread in large colourful and explosive ways to make art. My mission is to make embroidery sexy. Oh, and I teach people to draw like the clappers with a sewing machine.' Generally, people seem to be intrigued by this and often the conversation turns to their creativity and occasionally leads to a sudden confession.
'I cant draw!'
For someone like me who spends A LOT of time on a sewing machine in an old dairy, I am surprisingly quite good value at a social function. This may be down to the simple facts that a) I like drinking booze and b) I like expressing myself on the dance floor and I don't care if I look like a nerd. Like most of us, I have opposing sides to my personality. Theres the quiet industrious creative hermit who spends many hours on a sewing machine exploring the qualities of thread OR… the frustrated socialite who often feels like throwing my sewing machine out of the window and becoming a disc jockey. However, if there is one thing I am sure of, I love encouraging creativity in others and bestowing the medicinal qualities of sherry. That is why, when I was asked to write a column for SEW magazine, I thought WHY NOT! If I am going to write about something I love and sing about embroidery from the rooftops, well, this would be a great place to start.
For the past year I have completed an exciting hotch-potch of embroidered commissions including the Kettle Chips advertising campaign, a large spinning heart made of seeds for The Royal Oldham Children's Hospital, a series of quirky characters for my 'In Stitches' greeting card range and presently, a ridiculously large crowd scene featuring many outlandish folk including a Hells Angel, a Nun and a Pug. Without this rich variety of work, I would get bored of sewing and working on my own. The truth is that this is a job and I have to turn the creativity switch on everyday. I don't have much time for creative block as deadlines loom and bills need to be paid. Over the years I have learnt that in order to make good art you have to work at it and I believe that everybody benefits from creativity.
The more you invest in your creative self, the more your creativity grows and blossoms.
I hope that by sharing a sprinkling of my life and my techniques that I might inspire YOUR creativity and help you beat down the creative blocks that pop up now and again and can drive us to despair. So, if you are game, for the next 6 months I am going to help you put the va va voom into your stitching mojo with some crazy creativity tips to make you a proper Superstitcher. Its gonna be fun and its going to be different and you will need a bottle of sherry and regular bouts of 'you' time. That is very important. YOU time.
If you ask anyone thats been on one of my workshops the first exercise is simple. We are all creative but more importantly we all have something to express. Throughout our lives we are catching up with house work, being healthy, fashionable, cool and doing admin but for the moment we are going to all put that to one side. We are going to start at the very beginning.
I want you to imagine yourself as a special guest at my super dooper stitchery witchery party. The dance floor is empty, the lights are flashing, you feel good. The beat is getting louder and there in the middle of the floor is a table. You drink your sherry, you feel great, you go over to the table. Before you is the most amazing golden sewing machine with a free machine embroidery foot attached, a light and go-faster stripes. There is a piece of cream medium weight canvas ready in the machine and its threaded with good quality black thread. You are ready for action.
You pull your top down over your hips, sit at the table, put the presser foot down and slowly place your foot on the pedal. An amazing track fills the air. You breath, smile, shut your eyes and you say to yourself 'I CAN DRAW'.
Let me know how it goes.
Watch your fingers.
NUMBER 1 Q&A
My stitching must-have is
- MASKING TAPE.
I panic when I have only half a roll left.
My favourite hobby aside from sewing
- Dressing up my dog.
Your pick-me-up food/drink
-Fave food Smoked MACKERAL salad with chorizo
-Pick me up drink -
Green Tea or Sherry depending on the time of day.