I go to thrift stores, garage sales and estate auctions in search of embroideries, hand made works that have essentially been discarded. Each one has a story about its maker, its owner and its history but for most of them this provenance has been lost.
Sometimes, when I take a work out of it's dusty framing, I'll find a name and maybe a year. Sometimes the stitching has been completed but the work is not framed or finished.
Sometimes the work is unfinished, then I wonder what stopped the stitcher working on it.
Each work is soaked then washed according to the materials it is made from. It is dried quickly in a drying room so the colours don't get a chance to run. Once it is damp-dry, it is pressed and blocked with a steam-generating iron, until it is dry.
Works made from wool are fulled lightly during the washing process so they won't unravel during the cutting up stage.
Individual elements are cut out and grouped according to a colour scheme.
Crewel embroideries work particularly well.
I go into my stash of vintage textiles to find a background that will work with the collected elements.
Elements are selected, auditioned and composed before I hand and machine stitch them in place.
With needlepoint works, I find 2 that work together then cut them into strips. The 2 different lots of strips are woven together to make a new image but the physiology of the female eye enables her to still see the 2 different embroidered images.
These small works are then mounted in black, shadow-box frames so they can be hung together in groupings or singly.