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 Worshipful Company of Gold & Silver Wyre Drawer Award, Frances Stone.
Describe your Hand & Lock entry and the inspiration behind it:
My Hand and Lock entry was inspired by the shoreline environment of the southeast coast of Thanet where I am based, surrounded by naturally created patterns, textures and colour. My work has its roots in the varied pattern and geometrics of local architecture and the changing natural coastal landscape. These varied and personal influences have inspired me to create a collection that is close to me, and to represent who I am as a person, as well as create something I love.
The style of my work is a combination of delicate geometric designs using some of my favourite embroidery techniques, such as Goldwork and beading, incorporating the colours and textures of the coast in my designs, then translating them into interior accessories such as cushions. Creating luxury interiors is a personal passion, adding the detail of hand embroidered designs to different pieces to give a luxury bespoke feel. My Hand & Lock entry was a collection of different size cushions alongside a 3 metre throw. I chose the fabrics to match the various textures of the coast such as velvet, silk and denim. Each piece had a unique design using delicate cut metal wires. I also made my own tassels to accompany the cushions using real silk rayon and hand embroidered disks to add decoration to the top and in keeping with the luxury detailed vibe.
Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?
I don’t have any secrets in particular about my entry but something a lot of people don’t know is I design as I go and I often don’t have a specific design or pattern in mind as I design ‘in the present’. I have a selection of my own images, such as close ups of the patterns created in the sand and on rocks, alongside small stitch samples which I like and inspire me. I look at them as I am stitching and add different elements as I go. I really enjoy working this way as it keeps it exciting and keeps me motivated to create more different and exciting pieces.
Tell us about your background and how it led you to where you are.
I have always been an extremely creative person and throughout my school years I really enjoyed the creative subjects especially textiles and art. This led me to take a foundation year in Fashion in Textiles at UCA Canterbury, creating various different pieces learning about my style and what I love. It was there where I learnt about the Royal School of Needlework and although I had never tried hand embroidery I was fascinated with all different pieces that were being created by the students. It was whilst studying there that I learnt about the Hand & Lock competition.
When and how did you learn embroidery, and what what was your first project?
I learnt of all of the hand embroidery techniques at the RSN. I had only experimented with a small amount of beading at school but that was it. From what I can remember, my first embroidery project was making a pin cushion, as a 3D triangle chicken with 3 different sides of embroidery. I loved creating this cushion, and in fact I still use it today!
What’s been the biggest surprise of your career and the projects you’ve undertaken?
The biggest surprise of my career is most definitely winning the Hand & Lock WCSWD award last year, as it came as a massive shock to me and a wonderful surprise. It really gave me a confidence boost and the opportunity to invest further in myself as an artist and in my brand. A close second was getting the opportunity to meet the Royal Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles whilst studying at The RSN in Hampton Court Palace, as I was able to talk to her about one of the projects I was working on at the time. I have also been given various opportunities to work with some amazing companies such as Alexander Mcqueen and was thrilled to be given the opportunity to work on Serena Williams’ wedding cape.
Lastly, February of this year I exhibited in the Surface Design show, in the New Talent area. I was approached to take part in this show whilst at New Designers with my graduate collection, the same one I entered for Hand & Lock 2019. I found this a particularly challenging point in my career as I had to create a new collection in 5 months and curate the exhibition independently. However, this gave me knowledge into how to apply myself to various situations as a business owner and an artist.
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?
Thank you, such a lovely thing to say! I think it’s about being daring and trying out new different things that people haven’t tried before. I have recently enjoyed developing contemporary embroidered motifs rooted in pop art and applied to high end accessories.
What projects are on the horizon for you?
I am currently working a number of different projects, still creating bespoke hand embroidered interiors but also working on a commission basis with clothing, accessories, broaches and some that I can’t reveal yet! I am keen to keep an open mind on working with new and exciting projects in the future.
Where else can we see your work?
What one piece of advice would you offer someone looking to expand his/her embroidery skills?
Patience is key!
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
You can work with just one color for the next year—beads, thread, fabrics, everything. What color do you choose? Orange
What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? A glass of wine, delicate but bold.
We’re sending a collection of art into space with the hope that aliens will someday discover it. You’re asked to contribute a piece of embroidery. What do you make and why? A Goldwork portrait of myself with a hello message. Why not?
A book you enjoyed recently: Jilly Cooper, Prudence
You must include something edible in your next piece. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? Pasta! I would smash them into little pieces and spray paint them in various different colours, then stitch them down like little beads as part of a piece.
If you were not an artist, what would you be? I would love to be a forensic scientist.
You must create a textile for an animal. What is the animal, and what do you create?A chameleon. I would love to create a self portrait of their favorite skin pattern and colour.
Salty or sweet? Salty
Describe your dream commission. What and for whom is it? A full embroidered furniture collection for Leonardo DiCaprio.
A studio is remaking a movie, and they want you to create a prop. What is the movie, and what prop are you creating?Titanic, the famous ‘Heart of the Ocean’ pendant, fully embroidered in Goldwork.
Thank you, Frances!