An interview with Jo Butcher, embroidery artist.
I create original intricately stitched artworks, inspired by classic English country gardens, the rural simplicity of wild flower meadows and my love of flowers. I also produce hand embroidery kits and have a range of greetings cards.
How did it all start?
Creating clothes was my first sewing love when I was a teenager. Encouraged by my enthusiastic sewing teacher at school, who now can’t believe my stitches are so small and neat, I went on to study fashion at college. Then I worked as a Ladies wear Designer/Pattern cutter based in London, serving the high street.
When I was eight months pregnant, I bought an embroidery magazine, the cover had a hand embroidered herbaceous garden, reminding me of the embroidered tablecloths and linens of my grandmother’s generation. I knew I wouldn’t have much time to sew with a baby, but I bought the magazine and stored it away anyway!
Sadly, a year later I had all the time in the world. Our daughter was diagnosed with a genetic condition and died at 10 months.
I then had too much time and I found the therapy I needed was to express myself creatively and discovered the art of traditional embroidery. So, from that magazine and remembering the basic embroidery stitches taught to me at school, I began to create my own style.
Then in 2011 I entered the Kitchen Table Talent Awards and won best Craftsperson! From then on, I started embroidering full time and have since 2012, exhibited at the Spring and Christmas Country Living Fairs each year.
What inspires you?
Flowers, English country gardens, meadows and embroidery threads.
What is your creation process?
Using either plain linens or cottons, where I have painted the background sky, I build up the layers of threads, referring to photos for details, whilst creating an impression of the flowers or scene I have in mind.
What is your next project?
I always have several projects on the go to stitch, standing back from a picture for a while is essential. I am also using silk ribbons and working on some 3D flowers to incorporate into my pictures.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
Stitching and more stitching! I will be at the CL Spring Fair and the Christmas Fair in London and also Hampton Court Flower Show, within the CL marquee- this is perfect venue for me as I am surrounded by my inspiration!
I am designing new embroidery kits, which will be available later in the year.
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
There is always a lovely atmosphere at the Fair, beautifully styled by the magazine, full of unique finds and dedicated makers. I started coming to the Fairs as a customer, many years before I became an exhibitor. When you work home alone it is vital to get feedback, therefore it is lovely to meet the customers, some have become friends over the years.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers –
Develop and stay true to your style, just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you should.
Love what you do- it will shine through in your work.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, there is no magic formula.