Name: Gemma Lucas
Location: South West London/Surrey
School: Royal School of Needlework
What was your first exposure to embroidery, and what did you think of it? Period costume/haute couture. I was about 18/19 when I came across the Alexander McQueen Plato Atlantis catwalk show. I didn’t realise you could create such texture and colour through the use of hand embroidery.
What was your first embroidered piece, and what motivated you to undertake it? The first embroidered piece I created was during my first year at uni when I was experimenting with canvas work. My theme then was ice so I was experimenting with melted wax and plastics. I thought it would be quite interesting to create a melted ice look through the use of traditional embroidery techniques.
What made you want to pursue embroidery and textiles in school? To create beautiful well-made embellished surfaces.
As you study embroidery, what has surprised you? What has surprised me the most during my study was how meticulous and patient I became with my stitch work, as when I first started I was definitely impatient and not that tidy with my embroidery.
To date, what’s been your favorite course of study? Hand Embroidery Degree at the Royal School of Needlework.
Have you had any project disasters? If so, spill! The main project disaster I had was during my last year at uni where I fell ill during that year which meant I could not complete my final piece to the standard that I wanted it to be.
I can see you’re inspired by nature. Where would you like to take that inspiration? Even though previously nature has definitely been one of my biggest influences, inspiration-wise it’s more what captures my eye rather than me saying ‘I am going to look at nature for my next project’. At the moment I am looking at various different things for inspiration including art. So at the moment I cannot really say where I am going to take that inspiration from for my next piece.
It’s also clear you like sequins. Why? Sequins really do add great texture, they also create a completely different dimension to the fabric.
Describe your ideal embroidery or textile career. Creating or designing Haute Couture fashion embroidered pieces for world renowned Haute Couture houses.
What do you see yourself doing five years from now? Ten? Hopefully being my own boss by having my own brand.
What would you like your embroidery to do in the world and for the world? For more people to appreciate and recognise embroidery as a highly specialised and beautiful craftsmanship skill but also recognise it as an art form. From my experience when my friends found out that I was studying hand embroidery they looked at me weirdly and said ‘what are you going to do with that? I can cross stitch too it doesn’t take three years to learn that’. Not that there is anything wrong with the comments but it would be nice for some people to really appreciate the time, skill and effort that goes into this art form and how it transforms a garment or a piece of fabric into something that becomes unique and stunning.
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
Favorite thread: Metal thread
Favorite tool that isn’t a needle, hoop, or scissors: My hands and eyes without them I obviously won’t be able to stitch.
You must stitch a piece using only objects you find in nature. What do you do? I would like to experiment with leaves by experimenting with layering and the different variety of colours that you could find in leaves.
I like to marry embroidery with wirework. What craft would you like to marry with embroidery? Jewellery
You have to embroider a dessert. What do you make? Eton Mess
Ha! This American now has something new to try: an Eton Mess recipe.
What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? Precious gem stones, they are one of my earliest childhood memories and have been fascinated with them ever since.
What’s your embroidery code name? Goldie. I love anything gold/metallic or jewelled—a bit like my name.
You have to create an embroidery float for a parade. What do you do? I would like to do something dark for the float such as an ethereal, Tim Burton forest theme. I would like to use lots of Swarovski crystals (in dark colours) so that way the float will be dark but beautiful at the same time. I would also incorporate dark looking creatures and use a range of embroidery techniques to create textures.
If your embroidery were cataloged with books what genre would it be? My past projects would be placed within the science/nature/Fantasy category. Mythology and History would also be categories where I would place my embroideries.
A celebrity will wear something you stitch to an important event, which will lead to fame and fortune for you. Who is the celebrity and what did you make for him/her to wear? There are three main women that I absolutely admire: Bjork, Daphne McGuiness, and the late Isabella Blow. These women have always had impeccable taste with Haute Couture garments.
I would have liked to create a dramatic, heavily embroidered, textured gown for Daphne McGuinness; heavily embellished shoulder accessories for Bjork; and an insanely embroidered theatrical cloak for Isabella Blow.
Welcome to Manbroidery, an ongoing series of interviews with men who stitch. This time we welcome Richard McVetis, whose sublime stitched squares contain are bound with elegant intensity.
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