September 17, 2007

Interview with Aimee Ray

Q. Aimee, how long have you been embroidering and how did you get started?

A. My grandma first showed me how to embroider when I was about 5, she used to bring samplers for me to work on whenever she came to visit. I hadn't done any embroidery for a long time though, until a few years ago when I picked it up again and started stitching some of my own designs. I am a greeting card designer by day so I do a lot of computer art and design. I think one of the things that drew me to embroidery was that it is so completely opposite from that! It is an age old, primitive art form, but easy to pick up and adapt to contemporary art styles. I also find it sort of relaxing and meditative, and a great project to work on just sitting on the couch,watching a movie.

Q. I have been admiring your work on Flickr; you create some wonderful trees. Do you get a lot of inspiration from nature?

A. Absolutely! I've always been a nature girl, I love to be outside. Animals and nature are endless sources of inspiration and trees are one of my favorite things to draw or stitch.

Q. I noticed you have a degree in graphic design and illustration so I imagine sketching comes naturally. What started the process of you sketching with thread?

A. I have always done random sketches in my sketchbooks, usually tiny and done with very little thought- almost stream of consciousness. :) They can be actual drawings of things or just abstract shapes and lines. I guess it just struck me one day that some of them might make cool embroidery art, so I blew one up and transferred it to fabric. These have become some of my favorite embroideries I have done. I always use removable transfer pens so I can improvise or expand on my original sketches. That way I have a basic design I like to start with, but I'm free to add or change things as I stitch.

Q. Speaking of sketching with thread, you have a book out, Doodle Stitching. Congratulations! Can you tell us about the book and what we might find in it?

A. Thanks! It's been great seeing it finally out in the world! Doodle Stitching contains all kinds of my original embroidery patterns, each one with instructions for a fun, easy project to stitch them onto. There is also a section describing the tools and materials you'll need, as well as illustrated instructions on how to create many different stitches. So whether you're just starting out embroidering, or have been at it awhile, I hope you will find something there to inspire you.

Q. Could you give some advice for those who do not have an art background but would like to create their own embroidery designs?

A. Doodle as much as you can! Seriously, simple line drawings make great embroidery patterns. You may not think you have great drawing abilities, but some of the coolest embroideries I've seen are just simple patterns or line drawings with some creative thread work. Kids' drawings work great too. Don't be afraid to experiment or make a few mistakes.

Q. What other interests do you have besides crafting?

A. My husband Josh, gardening, dreams, toys (most recently Blythedolls), flickr, my dogs, Mystery Science Theatre, fantasy books and movies, weird music...

Q. Your embroidered canvases are wonderful; what a great way to display your pieces! Was the embroidery created on fabric and did you do anything special to stretch it over the canvas?

A. Some of them are fabric, and I just stretched them over the wood canvas frame. For others, I took the canvas off of already-stretched canvases and stitched directly onto that. It's already the right size, and it's stiff so you don't need a hoop. When I finished, I just stapled it back on the frame. I like displaying my embroideries this way, for some reason I've never really liked putting them in picture frames behind glass.

Q. What is an average day like for you?

A. I go to work at my day job, come home and walk my dogs, then work on craft projects! Scattered throughout my daily routine is lots of Internet browsing and drawing or writing random things in my sketchbook.

I've recently done a small series of illustrative "portraits" of some of my childhood heroes, starting with this one of Shel Silverstein. Embroidery seems the perfect medium somehow to commemorate these fabulous people. Perhaps because I learned embroidery as a child. Others in this series so far are Crystal Gayle and Jacques Cousteau, with more to come.

"hill man" is probably one of my least abstract embroideries. I love fantasy, which probably leads to my envisioning faces in nature. I love for my artwork to be narrative, for it to tell a story of its own. I see lots of potential stories in this one. I don't like to explain too much, but let the viewer find their own story in my pictures.
Thanks so much Aimee, your work is wonderful! To check out more of Aimee Ray, go to her website, dream follow. And you can also purchase Doodle Stitching at her Etsy shop!


  1. Aimee's work is so gorgeous and inspiring - I loved learning more about her - congratulations on her new book - I love her unique and beautiful style!

  2. What a great interview! I loved reading more about Aimee and her background. I just got her book last week, and it is amazing. The designs are so beautiful, and the instructions are well-written. It's so much fun! I can't wait to make something from it. :)

  3. Aimee's stuff is marvelous!! I think this is my favorite interview so far- I love reading them!!