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Behind The Stitches: Amber Griffiths

"You just have to believe in yourself and your work. Confidence is key"



Sam: Where are you currently based?

Amber: I’m based in Shrewsbury, it’s a town in Shropshire, the West Midlands of England.
Sam: Can you describe your embroidery style?

Amber: I find my embroidery style quite difficult to describe. It’s mostly punch needle pieces, with more traditionally stitched stuff mixed in occasionally. Visually I don’t really consciously stick to a particular style. I do love using a lot of colour though and finding inspiration in nature. So colourful nature would probably be a good description. There’s always exceptions to the rule though!

Sam: What was your first WIP and do you still have it?

Amber: My first piece of embroidery was probably when I was a child so my mum or my grandma probably have it, or it’s become lost over time. My first piece as an adult that I consciously focused on was an improvised load of flowers that I made up as I went along on some hideous peach fabric. I think I may still have it in a drawer somewhere in my studio, but I’d have to route around to find it.

Sam: When did you decide to start selling your pieces?

Amber: I first thought about selling them about three-ish years ago. I was coming toward the end of my university degree and really panicking about the future and what I was going to do for money. Then after university there was about a year before I started embroidering everyday and posting on my Instagram page. I built up stock for about four or five months then started selling things online and locally at fairs.

Sam: What advice do you have for people trying to place a price on their art? Was that something you struggled with?

Amber: It’s something I still struggle with! Pricing pieces is really really difficult. I usually undercharge on the pieces I sell because I often feel weirdly guilty if I charge the proper price. It makes me feel like I’m scamming people. There are people out there who truly appreciate handmade artworks and are willing to pay their true value, but then there are all the people who think ‘oh well that’s handmade so I could do that, it must be cheap’. I think the mindset of the second bunch of people sometimes gets into my head too, ‘if I can do it, they could do it, I’ll have to make it cheap’. It really is difficult, but you just have to believe in yourself and your work. Confidence is key!

Sam: Is embroidery the only fiber craft you do?

Amber: It’s the only fiber craft I regularly do. Once a year or so I’ll become wildly obsessed with knitting and make five hats in a row, then I’ll start on a sixth hat and become bored so I put it down for a year until I become obsessed again.

Sam: Are you more drawn to colour or texture?

Amber: Oh that’s a difficult one. I used to be much much much more drawn to colour but I think the tides are turning slightly and I’m being more drawn to the different interesting textures you can create with thread. I’ve definitely been focusing on texture in recent pieces, but I feel like colour is still incredibly important in making my pieces feel balanced.

Sam: I thought the video you posted of your design process was so interesting. Can you walk us through how you plot out a piece?

Amber: Well it varies. For some pieces I’ll draw them straight onto the fabric and start stitching, others I’ll hand draw a design on paper then trace that onto the fabric to stitch. For pieces where I’ve got a very distinct but quite complex vision, I usually use photoshop. I usually gather lots of photos from the internet and erase parts of them, recolour them, warp the shapes of them, move them around the design, etc. I do that until I feel like all the aspects I wanted to be included are in there and so it’s visually balanced - not too much going on one side of the piece and nothing on the other, that kind of thing. Once I’m happy with the vague design, I then use the drawing tool to trace over the photos and create a line drawing. After that I fill the line drawing with the approximate colours I want to use and see if I’m happy with how it looks. If I am happy then I trace the design directly onto the fabric of the hoop and start stitching it.

Sam: On average how long does an embroidery take you?

Amber: It differs from piece to piece. Punch needle pieces are extraordinarily faster than traditional hand stitching, so I’m able to finish those fairly quickly. I usually aim to complete one piece a day, but most of those ‘days’ are a few hours long. I probably average about four or five hours per piece.

"It’s difficult because I still feel like I’m starting out, haha! It’s like how adults always say they still feel like children"

Sam: How has your aesthetic evolved and changed over the years?

Amber: When I first started stitching I did lots of very detailed and very small pieces, which I still do occasionally but they’re not my main focus anymore. Realistically my style has become a lot more simplistic over time, more blocks of colour rather than colours blending into one another.

Sam: What does it mean to be hypermobile and how (if at all) does that affect your crafting?

Amber: Hypermobility basically means that you have joints that are more flexible than other people’s are. This doesn’t cause everyone pain, but for me because it does cause pain it’s Hypermobility Syndrome. I could rant for hours about all sorts of things in my life it does effect, but gosh wouldn’t that be boring! In terms of crafting it means I just have to be careful I don’t sit in the same position hunched over my work for too long, otherwise at the end of the day I might have such bad back pain I can’t move. Or I need to be careful how much I’m using my hands to do things because I could end up dislocating a finger joint pushing a needle through the fabric. Or I’ll just have a bit of hand and arm ache at the end of a long day. Luckily most of my hypermobile symptoms are in my legs so my embroidery practice isn’t too badly affected.


"It does feel a bit magical, creating something that didn’t exist before just out of a few threads"

Sam: Is there anything you wish you knew when you were first starting out?

Amber: Hmm, it’s difficult because I still feel like I’m starting out, haha! It’s like how adults always say they still feel like children. I’m an embroidery based child still. I probably wish someone had told me something along the lines of ‘Don’t feel like you have to fit in with what everyone else is doing, do what you want. Find yourself a niche and people will be interested. You don’t have to play by the rules either. Make up new techniques if you want to, use old techniques in non-traditional ways. Do whatever you want!’

Sam: What is it about fiber that you love so much?


Amber: It’s hard to put a finger on it, but it does feel a bit magical, creating something that didn’t exist before just out of a few threads.

Sam: Are there any books you’d recommend to embroidery beginners?

Amber: I don’t think I own any embroidery books, which is probably bad, oops. So yeah, I’ll struggle to recommend any!

Sam: What do you like to binge watch or listen to while you craft?

Amber: Because I craft so often I get through things really quickly, so I have to watch/listen to a wide range of different stuff. My favourite things are crime documentaries, comedy podcasts (the Elis James and John Robins one’s are my favourites) and British sitcoms. At the moment I’m watching Toast of London.


I hope that was okay! Thanks again for your interest, I really appreciate it!
..........

Thanks so much for chatting with us Amber! If you want to see more of Amber's work I suggest that you check out her Instagram @ambroidering and Etsy shop.

Who should I talk to next? Leave your suggestions in the comments section along with any thoughts you have about Amber's interview. I’m always on the hunt for inspiring crafters. Also, don't forget to follow along on my Instagram account @bobbleclubhouse for your daily dose of all things knitted and to stay up to date on our upcoming NYC events. Until next week, happy crafting!

Comments

  1. Amber is very talented. She embroidered a fabulous cushion with a textured flamingo on it. I have seen many of her pieces and she has a fantastic flare for ideas.

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