Every year, Hand & Lock organizes a competition for the prestigious Prize for Embroidery to promote the use of hand embroidery and to discover emerging embroidery talent. The 2019 brief, “Fool the Senses,” invited entrants to consider the texture and feel of embroidery. Projects focused on embellishments with sumptuous surfaces that intrigued and surprised as they to deceived, confused, and fooled the senses. Organizers encouraged artists to recycle and re-purpose old materials, re-imagining and transforming them into something new.
London’s Bishopsgate Institute hosted the final judging and award ceremony, showcasing 24 finalists’ masterpieces organized into four categories: textile works by students and textile works non-students, fashion by students and fashion by non-students. A separate display featured notable works pre-selected for associate awards by Hand & Lock’s partners.
Today we’ll meet the winner of the Wilcom Award for Digital Embroidery, Fashion Category, Daisy Rawson.
Location: Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Describe your Hand & Lock entry and the inspiration behind it:
My entry was two garments which are part of my menswear fashion collection ‘King Of the Jungle’. The two garments were a striped formal jacket with rainforest/jungle themed embroidery featuring leaves, flamingos, trees, flowers and a lace tiger made by a local artist. The second was an animal print knitted jumper with a large embroidered tiger. The inspiration started with a series of photographs I took at various wildlife parks and rainforest exhibitions. I love to base projects around nature, so I looked at the vivacity and colour of the jungle and its inhabitants. In line with the brief of ‘Fooling the senses’, I wanted to use embroidery as a way of injecting colour and texture into these menswear garments and bringing the jungle alive.
My work focuses on bringing what can sometimes be a colourless and bland menswear market into a brighter and more vivid way of dressing. Embroidery has been a fantastic way of adding drama and excitement to my garments to showcase the concept of more colour in menswear. I could have worked for years with the inspiration for King Of the Jungle and it is something I would love to revisit in the future for a bigger and bolder project!
Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?
Well the garments were made for men but were photographed on women for Hand & Lock which was a happy surprise and I loved it! The garments were two separate outfits in the collection but were displayed together at the Hand & Lock exhibition and I thought they went well together! I’m sure there were a few loose strands on the inside of my jumper but I think I got away with it!
When and how did you learn embroidery, digital and/or hand, and what impression did it make on you?
I first started digital embroidering in my Fashion Design course where I learnt to use Wilcom and the digital embroidery machine, as well as Irish and freehand embroidery machines. As I was completing my collection, I didn’t get to experiment with hand embroidery as much, so it was the digital world that really made an impression on me, I was just amazed at what the technology could do and it was addictive sampling designs on the machine. Technology is progressing so much now and the idea that you can create larger artworks in a matter of hours is fantastic and is testament to the digital world we live in. It allows you to explore so much creativity piece after piece, sampling as you go to really explore the possibilities of embroidery.
What was your first embroidery project?
I am new to the world of embroidery and my collection and entry for the competition was my first real venture into embroidery so I am looking forward to getting stuck in on more embroidery projects, digital and hand embroidery! In the future I hope to use digital embroidery and hand embroidery collectively to compliment each other and to add depth and texture. As I was coming to the end of my degree, I knew that I was heading for a more textile based future and through this competition, it has opened up a whole new industry to me!
Tell us about your background and how it led you to enter the Hand & Lock contest.
I have always been a maker and a crafter; however, I didn’t always think I wanted to go into fashion. I thought I would never be involved in menswear, and I never thought I would love embroidery so much. It just goes to show, you learn skills and more about yourself as you go along, so it’s always best to try everything. I have included colour as a strong feature within all of my work and within my degree I focused on injecting colour and fun into menswear and so when I was introduced to embroidery, I saw what a fantastic medium to showcase colour and texture within my collection. I was encouraged by tutors to enter the competition and would never have thought I could have won!
What’s been the biggest surprise of your career and the projects you’ve undertaken?
Winning the Wilcom associate award was definitely a big surprise and has enabled me to develop my designing and knowledge of digital embroidery. Hopefully there are many more (pleasant) surprises to come! I always get lots of little surprises too when I’m learning the software and I find another amazing tool, because each new tool equals a new design!
My job in The Funk Files is to interview “pioneers on the embroidery frontier.” That’s you! What is the embroidery frontier, and what does it mean to be a pioneer here?
For me, the embroidery frontier is creating work that people can connect to, whether it be through fashion, textile art, interior or technology. Pieces that fuse traditional techniques and hand embroidery with digital embroidery to create artwork that reflects the times, cultures and people. As digital embroidery progresses, it is popular for commercial use due to its efficiency, but the possibilities are limitless for both hand and digital! In this digital age, where we depend so much on technology in our day to day lives, to see pioneers combining forms of embroidery more often and in new exciting ways is what I envision for the future of embroidery.
What projects are on the horizon for you?
Since the Hand & Lock competition, I have had lots of practice on the Wilcom software and sampling different techniques! I am currently working on another top secret piece of decorative artwork but it is of course inspired by nature and is bursting with colour!! I can’t imagine not having embroidery on my list of things to do now, so I’d like to work towards owning my own machine to let loose on the creativity and get making!
Where else can we see your work?
@daisyrfashion is an Instagram blog I use to post pictures of my work. I look forward to soon filling it with lots of embroidery inspiration and projects!
What one piece of advice would you offer someone looking to expand his/her embroidery skills?
I would say try everything, enter all the competitions you can think of, if you have a favourite technique, don’t stick to it, always keep your eyes peeled for workshops or tutorials as you can never stop learning!
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
If you could embroider with just one color thread for the next three years, what would it be? It would have to be green (lime green is my favourite) to represent so many elements in nature.
What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? Probably somebody having a good dance, I always think dancing is a fantastic way to forget your troubles and live in the moment.
You’re asked to create a garment for an animal. What is the animal, and what do you create? My recent work with tigers makes me say an extremely colourfully embroidered cape for a tiger.
Favorite book you’ve read recently: I’ve just reread The Secret Garden, one of my childhood favourites!
You must include something live in your next garment. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? Well, in the past I’ve seen electronics used through embroidery, so I’d love to create an interactive garment using sound and light! Perhaps a garden-themed outfit where you press certain areas of the garment and it comes alive with bird or animal noises or rain or light!
If you were not an artist, what would you be? I would love a role as a wildlife conservationist, or it would also be amazing to see the sights of an astronaut!
You must turn a song into a garment. What’s the song, and what’s the garment? The Cinematic Orchestra, Arrival of the Birds for a dramatic accompaniment to a bird-themed embroidered suit.
A place you’d like to visit: Anywhere in South America.
A celebrity wears one of your garments to an awards show, and you receive fame, fortune, good health, fitness, and cake for life. Who is the celebrity and what does s/he wear? Elton John and he wears an ultra-colourful and embellished stage jacket!
Oh, Elton, please contact Daisy. I want to see this!
We’re hosting a show of “performance embroidery.” Describe your piece in the event. With the help of the electrics previously mentioned and some robotic help, a portrait of embroidered animals that all have bits of them moving, a lion roaring, an elephant trunk moving, a bird’s wings flying, with beautiful metallic embroidery so it catches the light when it moves.
I can see it in my mind, and I’d love to see it on stage.
Thank you, Daisy!
Jen Funk Weber is Queen of Funk & Weber Designs, a cross stitch and counted-thread embroidery designer and teacher dedicated to stitchy explorations and adventures.