I am thrilled to present today's interview with Nicole of Follow the White Bunny. We first "met" when she posted about my little yeti dress on Feeling Stitchy. Now she has a yeti of her very own that was featured in Fat Quarterly magazine. Nicole is a very talented designer and does amazing embroidery. I love her whimsical imagery. Her designs are delicate and quiet but very powerful.
My favorite pieces of yours are those stitched on non-traditional fabrics like Joel Dewberry’s Woodgrain, the faux bois in bright colors, from the Aviary line (see the White Rabbit image below). Why do you sometimes choose these unusual backgrounds?
Generally I think that if you use the right fabric, whether it’s patterned or not, it compliments and adds to your embroidery work. When choosing patterned fabrics I only use subtly patterned fabrics so the print will not ‘overpower’ the embroidery work. And Joel Dewberry’s wood grain fabrics fit that description perfectly, especially the light yellow and green versions. I’m still clinging to a small stash of these! Lately I have also been using a lot of linen to embroider on, both ‘solid’ linen and patterned.
You recently collaborated with fabric designer Lizzy House, one of the first Project: Project interviewees, developing embroidery patterns for her Castle Peeps collection. What was that like? We use a LOT of Lizzy House around here.
I was so surprised when Lizzy contacted me! I had no idea she even knew who I was and what I was doing. I had already been admiring the sneak peeks of the Castle Peeps earlier this year so I didn’t have to think long when she asked me if I wanted to team up with her and work on some Castle Peeps Embroidery Patterns. Lizzy is very talented and her Castle Peeps designs were very suitable to translate into Embroidery Patterns. I found the whole thing very inspiring, especially to work with the simple shapes of which these Peeps are made up and the vibrant colours.
Why do you base some of your patterns on fairy tales and children’s stories like the Princess and the Pea and the white rabbit from Alice in wonderland?
I find inspiration in many things, including tales and books! I must confess that part of the reason I chose the Princess and the Pea was because with all those 20 mattresses it fit my idea for an embroidery sampler so perfectly. I had no idea that this was such a popular tale though. I’m pretty sure it’s not all that popular over here.
I also like to make up my own stories around the patterns that I’m making or at least make my patterns look like they are part of a story. Like my Bear and Fish pattern, they are an interesting couple aren’t they? First I had just drawn the Bear but I found him a bit uninteresting on his own so I added the fish. The bear looks like he is gently stroking the fish but then…don’t all bears love fish… to eat I mean? The idea for the pose of the Bear with the Fish came from an old early 20th century French postcard. On the postcard people, not bears, were holding the fish though.
I was surprised to read that you are relatively new to the crafty world? Your style seems so refined.
It’s true I am quite new to the whole crafty scene. I studied Medieval History and after that I had a rather unexciting job at a Health Insurance company for a couple of years. Four years ago we moved to Norway (but I’m back in the Netherlands now) and there, having some time on my hands, I started to sew. Soon after that I started embroidering too. I’ve always enjoyed drawing so within a year after I held my first embroidery hoop I had drawn, made and sold my first embroidery pattern. I’m not sure if I would call my style ‘refined’ but I guess it’s recognizable and rather consistent in style and theme. Personally , I see a lot of difference (and improvement) in the stuff I did before and the things I’m doing now.
Your blog is a mix of both craftiness and home life. Is it hard to juggle a family and a business?
No it isn’t hard. It’s too small to cause any stress! I’m just making my patterns and sometimes I spend a couple of hours a day on drawing, embroidering or pattern making and on other days I buy groceries and do the laundry. If possible I try to plan ahead and take plenty of time for special projects or commissions and if things get a little busy I guess the housework suffers the most from it.
Thanks so much to Nicole for the insightful answers! I love learning more about my favorite artists and designers. You can buy her patterns here and read more about Follow the White Bunny on her blog. If you need the Castle Peeps embroidery patterns, Lizzy House has them here. All photos are courtesy of Nicole.