Today I have the special honor of introducing you to Katie - a fascinating artist, Etsy seller, and blogger who crafts under the name Mother Eagle. I remember seeing Katie's embroidery all on its own and briefly marveling at the detail. I was about to move on - THEN, I saw a photo that included her hand for scale, and I nearly fell out of my chair. So tiny! So detailed! Such lovely nail beds! I was hooked. :)
Here are a few questions Katie was kind enough to answer for us - enjoy!
How long does it take to embroider one of your tiny works? Do you have to squint? :)
Ha! Well, the time depends on what it is of course, something like the little beetles or the Eye of Horus only takes an hour, but the Hares and the Octopi take about 4.5 hours. The silk rib cage I've just completed for my antique doily series is the most time consuming to date, the embroidery for that took 7 hours. As far as squinting goes, I'm very lucky as I have a fantastic magnifying daylight lamp which I look through when I work, which allows me to do my teeny stitches without going blind ;)
Middle child, only, youngest, or oldest? Do you think this has an influence on what and how you create?
My family have always been so supportive and nurturing, and my mum has definitely been my biggest influence embroidery-wise. Growing up I did a lot of crafty things and making stuff and probably started sewing - basic cross stitch - before I was ten. I remember being really into my mum's cross stitching design books and creating my own pattern - a big sampler style picture of Africa - which I never started! My mum always had a kit project on the go and my parent's house is covered in big framed pictures of her work. When I was 9 she gave me a giant cross stitch of a dolls house she'd done, with all the little room sets. I loved it so much.
When you’re not stitching what do you do? Draw, read, watch TV?
Happily, Mother Eagle takes up the majority of my time, but I am a big multi-tasker! I love to stitch with a Studio Ghibli movie on in the background, or an HP Lovecraft audiobook...massive geek. Otherwise I just like to hang out with my gorgeous husband and 2 Bengal cats, Mi-go and Tulu.
Are you particular about your threads and fabrics? What are your favorites to work with?
Yes and no - one of the triggers for me taking my embroidery more seriously was a massive carrier bag stuffed with a rainbow of stranded cotton floss - my mum's destash. So Anchor and DMC are my go-to for lots of projects. But I do love to work with silk too. 21st Century Yarns' hand dyed Very Fine Silk comes in stunning mottled and variegated shades which I use at every opportunity. As far as fabrics, again having 4 generations of stitchers before me in my family means I have inherited some fabulous antique lace-trimmed pieces which I am embellishing at the moment, but I most often work on heavy old cotton pillowcases which I dye in organic black tea. They are super soft from 60 years of washing and lovely quality for really heavy embroidery.
What is your favorite stitch? Do you have a least favorite?
Before embarking on the jewellery miniatures I bought three Royal School of Needlework instruction books and used them to design a 'sampler' piece so I could teach myself more techniques. It was a Death Cap mushroom and I used a lot of stumpwork, which is a fabulous technique. I have to say I love a raised stitch like a detached woven picot, and you can't beat a French knot! I also love bullion knots but have felt the hot tears of frustration stinging my cheeks when spending hours trying to get them nice and even!
Are there certain colors you’re drawn to more than others?
I love colour! I was just starting a new project today and had imagined it in plain black until I came to start it. I just couldn't! It will end up in variegated poppy-coloured cotton after all.
When are you most creative? Is there a certain hour, environment, or time of year?
I do believe in being productive. I think industry begets creativity - if I stop making for more than ten days I find it harder to get going again. Having said that I am lucky in that I always feel inspired to create a new design! I usually embroider something new each week. I created the character of Mother Eagle as my muse and all my designs connect to her in some way or another. I also spend a lot of time blogging about things I find inspiring so that helps, too. The karma of creativity!
Thank you, Katie, for taking part in this wonderful interview! It was such a pleasure to meet you!
For more on Katie and Mother Eagle, visit:
Her Etsy shop
Her Flickr photos