As you know, this year we’ve ventured in many new directions within the textile world. Amongst my exploring, I came across the stunning embroidery work of talented artist Hannah Kwasnycia. Her beautiful use of colour and texture really intrigued me and I was eager to learn more about Hannah’s creative process. So here it is…
Hi Hannah Kwasnycia! Would you mind telling us a little about yourself and your background please?
I am a 26 year old Canadian. I have been traveling for the last 3 years on working holiday visas. My partner and I moved to Australia in 2018 and spent a while there before moving to New Zealand. In April of this year we moved to England and are currently living in Derbyshire.
My mother has always nurtured my creative side. When I was a child we would go on dates to craft stores and she would buy me lots of different mediums. We had a craft room my whole life and I always had free reign of it. She always encouraged me to be creative and still does.
Could you tell us a little bit about how you got into embroidery?
I originally wanted to try needle felting, but I couldn’t find the supplies. So what felt like at the time as settling for embroidery; turned out to be one of the best artistic mediums for me personally as it gives me so much freedom.
In March of 2019 I went to a small embroidery shop in Brisbane Australia and I told the woman working there ” I have no clue what I’m doing, but I want to try embroidery”.
She set me up with everything I needed and wrote down a few stitches I should learn. Since then I have stitched almost every single day.
What inspires your work?
I am inspired by the organic textures of moss, lichen, coral reefs, tidal pools, mold, and bacteria cultures. I especially love moss and lichen and could stare at the microscopic world they create for hours. There is such diversity in the textures and colours they have.
Can you tell us a little more about your experiments with textures?
I experiment with texture in a few different ways. Firstly with many different stitches. My favourite stitches to create texture with are the Bullion Stitch, French Knots and Turkey Work. You can achieve very different looks by changing a few small variables with these stitches. Making the stitches tighter or looser, or using 1 to 6 strands of embroidery floss. It sounds simple, but it changes the look drastically. Layering these different stitches together and on top of each other is where the magic happens. I also love adding beads, sequins, metallic and satin threads. I love glitter and shine. They add dimension to my work.
Can you give us an insight into your creative process, what steps do you take when starting a new project?
My very first step is to pick a colour palette. All of my pieces are freehand. I rarely plan anything out when starting. Sometimes I start a piece with no vision, but hoping I’ll find it along the way. I do have rules that I follow. Such as, I aim to have no similar colours or stitches touching as well as having odd numbers of things. I also try to keep shapes and dimensions evenly spaced throughout the piece.
Your designs are so vibrant and eye-catching, how do you go about selecting your colour combinations?
That’s a tough one to answer as the inspiration comes from lots of different sources and at unexpected times. Just the other day I was walking back home from work and came across a shrub/weed on the gravel driveway which caught my eye. I built a colour palette based around its icy blue and pastel orange colouring. Other times it comes from something as simple as google image searches of lichen etc, but I always prefer having inspiration organically (like my art) which I feel more connected to and in-turn makes for a better result.
What do you enjoy most about working with textiles?
With my particular medium of textile work, the embroidery side is a slower process which allows me to get lost in it. I find it very meditative.
How long does it take you to complete one of your intricate pieces of work?
It really depends. Each hoop is different. On average it takes me a week of free time after work to finish a 15cm hoop. If I’m feeling very motivated, it can take as little as 4 days. Some projects I have started and taken breaks from and returned to with ‘fresh eyes’ later on. Timeframes on commissioned pieces are often talked about with the client and determined generally by size.
Which other textile artists do you love? Are there any that inspire you, past or present?
A huge inspiration when I first started was Jill Bliss. More specifically her mushroom medleys. As well as Jaclyn Lombardo, an internet friend of mine. Natural textures also influence her textile work.
Do you have a favourite piece you’ve created so far?
I find myself saying “this is my favourite creation” after finishing each hoop. My all time favourite piece is called “Lichen”. Its based off the minty blue and orange-reds of the lichen I found in my backyard. I regret selling that one.
What are you currently working on? Are you able to share any ‘in-progress’ photos?
I’m currently working on my largest piece to date (30cm hoop) and its something I’m slowly adding to between my other smaller projects and commissioned pieces. It is a lush green colour scheme with hints of sparkle. I am experimenting with how upscaling the patterns and textures of my smaller work, looks on a larger canvas. When viewing a large painting up-close you lose the detail but from further back the beauty of the work is revealed. I am trying to find the balance.
What’s next for you in terms of textile projects?
Aside from the larger canvas work, I would love to try and incorporate needle felting (the original plan all along!) into my embroidery art. I also want to experiment with dyeing my own fabric to compliment my embroidery.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into textiles or crafts?
The hardest part of trying a new skill is the first steps. My advise is to just go for it. What’s stopping you? You’ve got nothing to lose in trying a new skill. I almost talked myself out of trying embroidery thinking I’d be terrible and it wasn’t even worth trying if I wasn’t going to be good at it.
To add to that, try and stick with the craft you choose, you’ll only improve. I still have my first attempt at embroidery and comparing that to where I am now is a great visual representation of what time, effort and consistency can achieve.
We are trying to be a bit more eco friendly in 2020, do you have any tips or tricks to be more environmentally friendly in our day to day lives?
I personally use fabric grocery bags. I don’t buy vegetables or fruit that come in single use plastic packaging. Small things like this that everyone can be more mindful of and that are easily achievable.
Where can people find out more about you and your work?
My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mild.moss/
My etsy : https://www.etsy.com/shop/MildMoss
Thank you so much Hannah Kwasnycia! It’s been great getting to know you! 🙂
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As always, happy rag rugging!