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I first did embroidery at school when I was about 5 years old. I appliqued a moon and four stars cut from navy felt to a piece of red felt to make a needle-case which I still use today. At school I focussed on science subjects and maths and it wasn’t until much later that I went back to embroidery. I started out doing counted cross stitch kits, then started to create and stitch my own designs. It was only by chance that I saw an exhibition of experimental textile art with sketchbooks and samples and at that point I was hooked. I hadn’t done art at school, but I went back to college and learned as much as I could. I now use a variety of textile techniques in my work including hand embroidery, feltmaking, goldwork, printing and dyeing, but my main passion is free machine embroidery.
The common theme which seems to run through my work is that I like to put holes in it! I have made vessels which have been exhibited in contemporary craft galleries where the inspiration was taken from the erosion of the Yorkshire coastline. These pieces were made entirely from wire and thread using free machine embroidery on soluble fabric.
Another piece was a hand embroidered jacket made from silk organza. The inspiration came from faded and decaying banners in military museums which, when used in battle, had been a show of strength. Some areas of the jacket were distressed away completely and re-darned, other areas had the weft threads removed to leave the warp and much of the surface was covered with buttonhole stitch to give a contemporary take on traditional cut-work embroidery. I also embellished the surface with beads and metal purl. This jacket was a finalist in the Hand & Lock prize for Embroidery 2010. I have created fabrics for interiors by applying wired free- machine embroidered motifs to linen and then cutting through the linen to create a three-dimensional fabric.
Some of my work comments on contemporary concerns and issues, other work can be inspired by simpler themes. The techniques I use are based on traditional methods, but I make them special by pushing my sewing machine to the limit to develop original ideas and techniques.
Diana is prepared to answer questions from Junior Embroiderers and Textile Students.