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Behind The Stitches: Miriam Polak

“I learned that I was creative all that time, I just didn't allow myself to believe it”

Sam: Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Miriam: I come from Poland, but my significant other is French, so we're moving between the two countries a lot. We just moved to Poland for a while, after more than a year of living in France.

Sam: Have you always been creative? What was your first WIP and do you still have it?

Miriam: I always thought that I'm not a creative type. I liked painting when I was little, but then I had to focus on the more "important things" like studying. I started drawing again when I was preparing for the entrance exam to study architecture, but I hated every part of it. I drew out of obligation, I didn't do it out of joy or creativity and I didn't like the type of pencil drawing with a lot of construction that we were doing. I got into the university and during my studies, I took various classes from drawing, painting to sculpture, but they never brought me any joy, as it was graded and the critique was quite harsh. I thought I would never go back to doing anything "creative" and I started working in an architecture company. I soon realized that it wasn't for me and I started searching for my path.

I found "Design Management" postgraduate studies and it completely changed my life! We had a lot of creativity workshops and I learned that I was creative all that time, I just didn't allow myself to believe it. After that, I found a remote job in a creative agency, where I could grow both professionally and creatively.

My first embroidery piece was a cactus pillow that I bought as a kit. I embroidered it using all six strands because I didn't know I could divide the thread. I was hooked ever since and I've been embroidering almost every day!

Sam: Is embroidery the only fiber craft that you do? What is your favorite part about your crafting process?

Miriam: I have a weaving loom as well, but I didn't have time to dive into it, although I really want to! Apart from embroidery I recently started painting and digital illustration.

My favorite thing about my craft is definitely embroidering itself. I usually plan my pieces in detail, and I'm the happiest once that is done and I can start stitching. I love how calming embroidery is, it's a mindfulness practice for me. I also love the sound the thread makes when it goes through the fabric and seeing the design come to life. Also finishing a part of the piece is very satisfying. Another great thing about embroidery and other fiber arts is the 3D effect you can create with it. Experimenting with different textures is definitely one of my favorite things to do!

Sam: How did you end up where you are now? Can you walk us through your crafting journey?

Miriam: I started embroidering in September 2018, so exactly a year ago. Soon after that, I started my Instagram account @slow_evenings_embroidery and I started posting pictures with my embroideries and creating original artwork. My account started growing quite fast and after a few months, I started getting requests for custom orders. In January a couple of my posts were shared by some big accounts and since then I've been making custom orders nonstop. This summer I opened my Etsy shop and launched my first pattern which was a lot of fun. I love launching new products and creating educational materials so my plan for the next couple of weeks is to create more patterns, kits, and a video course. Brand building is my passion and being able to do it for my company is just the best feeling!

"Inspiration usually strikes me out of the blue and I have to sketch it fast before it disappears"

Sam: What does a typical work day look like for you?

Miriam: I wake up quite early and reply to comments and inquiries. Then I either pack the orders or work on a pattern or a different project. After that, I go to my day job and once I finish I usually take some pictures for Instagram, Etsy, or the pattern. I stitch mostly in the evenings (hence the name) and during weekends as a way to unwind and relax after a busy day or week.

Sam: What inspired you to create your cities series?

Miriam: Love of textures and cities’ unique colour palettes!

Sam: Can you describe your crafting space?

Miriam: I wish I had a beautiful crafting space, but unfortunately, that's not the case. Being digital/analogue nomads means that we can't really decorate our space since we'll probably move in the next couple of months. When we lived in France I had a coffee table with my craft supplies and I was working from an armchair. Now I have a proper office chair and a desk which I plan to organize soon and have a photo/video station, packing station and crafting station there. I store all of my inspiration digitally, mostly on Instagram or Pinterest.

Sam: When creating a piece do you start with a color palette or textures?

Miriam: That's a hard question. Inspiration usually strikes me out of the blue and I have to sketch it fast before it disappears. I usually always have a colour palette in mind when I'm planning an embroidery piece. After that, I create a more detailed sketch with colours and textures.

Sam: Do you sketch first or dive right into a WIP?

Miriam: I always sketch first! You could say I'm a meticulous planner, mainly because embroidery is such a slow craft and I don't want to spend a couple of hours on a project only to realize that the outline was off or the colors or textures don't go well together.

Sam: I love your customizable plant ladies! How do you work with your customers to bring their personalities to the project?

Miriam: First, we discuss the details, colors, plants, textures, and pet. After that, I send a digital sketch and once it's approved I start embroidering and send progress pictures.

Sam: What do you like the most about working on custom projects?

Miriam: Looking at photos of pets that people send me! The best part is definitely seeing the reaction when my customers receive the finished product. It makes me so happy that people like what I do and want to make it a part of their homes!

"I quit my previous job in architecture, mostly because I used to work overtime all the time and I was under a lot of stress. I decided that I didn't want my life to look like this"

Sam: How much time goes into a typical project?

Miriam: Between 4-15 hours.

Sam: What is one thing you wish people knew about you and your business?

Miriam: How long it takes to finish a piece!

Sam: You talked about your need for balance and harmony in your life. How do you achieve a work/life balance?

Miriam: I quit my previous job in architecture, mostly because I used to work overtime all the time and I was under a lot of stress. I decided that I didn't want my life to look like this. I spent a lot of time in France and Italy, where I learned the slow way of living, and I knew I wanted it to be an important part of my life. Now I work in a remote creative agency and I have much more free time and a lot less stress. It allowed me to explore other creative pursuits like embroidery. Ever since I found this creative outlet my life is much more complete. Building Slow Evenings really doesn't feel like work, since it brings me so much joy to do it!

I love to spend time with my boyfriend and our cat and I also need a lot of alone time when I can focus on self-care, whether it's by experimenting with crafts or taking time for skincare, which I really enjoy.

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

Miriam: I like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. My current favorites are "Don't Keep Your Day Job" by Cathy Heller, one of my favorite books to listen to is "Big Magic" by Liz Gilbert, which I recommend to everyone!


If you want to see more of Miriam's work you can follow her on Instagram @slow_evenings_embroidery and through her Etsy shop!

Who should I talk to next? Leave your suggestions in the comments section along with any thoughts you have about Miriam'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 fiber. Until next week, happy crafting!


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