Spotlight on….Sue Bibby Embroidery

SUEBIBBYIM1.JPEGWhat do you create? I make a range of embroidered products and one-off pieces using a combination of free machine embroidery and hand stitch.

Where do you make your work?
I work from my attic studio that is a messy, lovely, creative space where I have everything set up and ready to “go”. My trusty Bernina sewing machine is central to everything I make and I can surround myself with all my materials and threads that are an inspiration in themselves. I have a shelf for interesting artifacts and a pin board for postcards and other visual ideas.

What is your inspiration? A lot of my inspiration comes from nature and wildlife and a particular favourite is birds. I like to draw and explore a subject through sketches then translate into fabric and stitch.

What materials do you work with & why? I like to use natural fabrics – cottons, linen and silks along with tiny pieces of fine Liberty prints and vintage lace. In some pieces I SUEBIBBYIM3.JPEGuse mixed media, combining textured and dyed papers, drawings and stitch.

Although I do a lot of machine embroidery, one of my favorite occupations is hand stitching. The gentle process of pulling the needle through fabric is very therapeutic and a great tool for minute detail.

How do you go about creating your work? I generally make my work in layers, dying backgrounds then collaging and overlapping fabrics to create an interesting, textured base for the detailed subject. Free machine embroidery allows me to “draw” with the needle using a variety of threads.

Which aspect(s) of your work do you enjoy most? I enjoy all aspects of my work, as I like the making of products and exploring materials in a more experimental way. I really like working in my sketchbook, where I can be quite free and try out new ideas that generally lead to a fresh slant on my work.

Who inspires and influences you? 
I admire the work of embroiderers, Janet Bolton, Tilleke Schwarz and Julie Arkell, and painters, Mary Feddon and Elizabeth Blackadder as well as the mixed media artist, Joseph Cornell. I also get a lot of inspiration from book illustrations, such as The Observers Book of Birds

Have you always been an Embroiderer?  After completing a degree in Embroidery I ran a small business with my husband making greeting cards, supplying galleries and shops including W.H. Smith and Paperchase.

SUEBIBBYIM2.JPEGFor 10 years I worked as an Art Technician in a secondary school, preparing materials and supporting teachers and pupils. In the last 12 months I have returned to full-time making and have been selling a greater range of products at Arts Markets and Contemporary Craft Fairs.

How did you get started?  Initially after graduating I exhibited work in a few galleries and several shops stocked my cards. I soon realised that I would need to offer a greater variety of products in order to be able to sell directly at fairs and possibly make a living.

Where do you exhibit/ sell your work?
I attend local arts markets and have recently been lucky enough to get selected for some bigger shows. I have work in The Craft and Design Centre, Leeds, Manchester Royal Exchange Craft Shop and cards in a number of galleries and shops throughout the country.

What have you been doing / making this year?  This year my highlight was attending the Country Living Spring Fair, at Alexandra Palace, which was a great experience and a much bigger event than I had ever done before. I had some wonderful feedback and was inspired to add to my embroidered bird range and develop some floral pieces.

I will be attending The Country Living Christmas Fair this year at the Design Centre, Islington in November.

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