Well, you know that moment when you first encounter the web outside of emails and you take the first tentative steps into Flickr 'just to see how it works' and of course you're a bit shy about putting your real name but you're not quite ready and the first thing that comes into your head is the dog's name? Well that's what happened. My lovely now long deceased Daisy is immortalised in cyber space!
Then the blog... I wanted to call it 'Dog Daisy' but someone already had that, then I wanted 'DaisyChains' but that, too was taken so inevitably the ridiculously named 'DogDaisyChains' was born.
Did you embroider as a child? How did you learn your craft?
Oh yes. Like most stitchers I think, I was always making and sticking and glueing and sewing as a child. My idea of School Holiday Heaven was to get a book about crafts from the library and work my way through it making the things in it.
My Grandma taught me how to embroider and my cousin (who I idolised and is a few years older than me) and I, used to sew and draw together. I was always sewing something. I made my first dress at my cousin's house when I was 16... a navy blue with red dots high-waisted puffed sleeved mini dress, 1967. Then I made almost all my own clothes. I was stick-thin and they didn't take much fabric or time. I don't do it now!
I saved lots of offcuts to make little dresses for possible future little daughters but I got two boys so I used the fabrics for patchwork! After I'd had my boys I discovered a City and Guilds Embroidery Class near where I live so I signed on and learnt new skills especially free motion machine embroidery and I've been producing ever since.
Do you prefer to do hand-stitching or machine embroidery?
As I said above, I love free machine embroidery as it gives a fast result in a long process, and defines areas by drawing with the needle, but in my recent work I am doing a lot more hand stitching to enhance the final piece after machine stitching. I have always loved stitching by hand, the sound when the thread is pulled through the taught fabric, and the calming rhythm and the wonderful surface texture it creates.
Do you have any other artistic hobbies?
Embroidery is such a time-consuming process that I hardly dare get into anything else! I have been doing a bit more drawing lately, just mark making with various media to try to free myself up a bit. I used to be very good at it but if you don't use it ...I lost it.
I am very interested in Floristry which I did as a hobby and for church, and recently did the flowers for two weddings, bouquets, buttonholes, table centres and everything. It was a lot of work and although I really enjoyed it my fingers aren't up to it these days.
Of course I am an avid felt maker. I suppose felters might not recognise me as such, because my 'painted' felt backgrounds are just that.. backgrounds for further embellishments in the form of stitch.
I love reading, walking with my little dog, listening to the radio. BBC Radio 4 has a great variety of plays, documentaries and current affairs programmes throughout the day and I always have it on when I'm working. I'm not a very good photographer but I love trying.
Your creations are incredibly beautiful. What is the typical process you follow when making one of your embroidered felted pieces?
Well of course I start with the felt. I choose a base colour and then cut pieces from already part-felted pieces until I've built up a design or pattern that is pleasing. I add other wisps of coloured wool in a painterly way to create interest and depth to the piece and perhaps other lightweight fabrics which will felt in, to create a complex surface.
When the felt is rolled and rinsed and dried I lay a piece of clear plastic on it and using a permanent pen, I draw lines on the plastic where I think I might sew and add extra definition to the pattern. If it goes wrong I start again with another piece of plastic. It cuts down on unpicking or disaster if you plan where you're going to stitch first! Then, keeping the plastic to hand to remind myself, I start stitching on the sewing machine, often placing the plastic back on the fabric to remind myself where I'm going next. I might add hand dyed velvet at this stage, as with my brooches.
When the machine stitching is done, I move to a comfortable chair and sit and add hand stitches such as French Knots and running stitch, seeding, satin stitch and detached chain until I feel the piece is complete. It's a bit like the satisfaction you get from hand quilting.
In other work I might stitch individual motifs and cut them out and create a background of felt to attach them to, or even just attach them to a canvas without a background.
What inspires you to create?
The fabrics and threads themselves make me want to create. I love combining the colours, coming upon an unexpected combination and working with that.
I am also very inspired by the landscape particularly around where I live and walk my dog. I walk along looking at the leaves on the paths in the woods, at the rushes by the edge of a pond, the willow leaves on a bent tree, or the tree trunks with tiny ivy leaves growing up them. Sometimes when I think my work has too many different elements I look at a hedgerow and notice just how many varieties of leaf, flower, berry, stem or grass are growing there, a wonderful confusion of pattern shape colour and texture.
A couple of years ago I was part of an exhibition with poetry as the theme and I took for my inspiration 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' by WB Yeats for my work, using elements of the landscape in the west of Ireland. Patterns and the work of other artists also gets my creative mind thinking; mid century design, William Morris, African Textiles, just about anything!
Do you have a favorite color (or colors)? A favorite thread?
I have produced a lot of pieces of work using teal, jade, olive, lime and grey, as my response to the poetry theme I mentioned. I looked at the colours of the rocks, mosses, sea and skies of the West of Ireland around the Burren... a great area of barren Limestone rock on the shores of Galway bay. I stay there in early Spring every year while my husband attends a traditional music class and it's magical, so those colours have stuck with me. I think my absolute favourite is pale turquoise/ duck egg blue.
I almost always use Natesh Titania variegated thread on my sewing machine, it's silky and slightly shiny without being too bright it's a nice foil for the softness of the woollen felt. For hand stitching I am using traditional Coats Anchor threads at the moment as well as some hand dyed threads from various sources.
Thank you Jackie, for this wonderful interview!
For more on Jackie, please visit:
Her blog: http://dogdaisychains.blogspot.com/
Her Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogdaisy92/
Her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/JackieCardytextiles
Her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackiecardytextiles