An Everyday Medium

Kelly Ryan is a fiber artist and designer from Upstate New York. Focusing on childhood memories and patterns, she creates colourful hand embroidered pieces and illustrations. She received her BFA in graphic design from SUNY Purchase in 2015. 

How did you get into embroidery?

I honestly was very hesitant to start embroidering, I remember it was my senior year in college and some of my friends started to stitch in their free time.  I thought it seemed really difficult. But then on my spring break of that year, I was so stressed about my senior thesis project that I decided I would pick up embroidering to see if it was really as relaxing as people were saying (it was!)

I guess I didn’t really fall in love with embroidery until about last fall, once I had been out of art school for a while and had some more free time to stitch; I haven’t stopped since!

What other textiles have you explored or would like to explore?

My mum taught me to knit growing up, but I was only ever able to make scarves and simple things like that. Then I taught myself to crochet a few years ago and I now have tons of giant blankets that I really don’t know what to do with! For textiles I would like to explore, I’m super interested in weaving and rug making but I’ve never tried to do either.

How do you keep your threads organised?

I’m a pretty messy person but I try my best to keep my threads as organized as I can. I just keep them in a little box with the thread colours written on plastic bobbins.

Where do you get your materials from?

I get all of my fabric from Joann fabric and Michaels craft store is like my second home, I go there at least once a week!

What’s your favourite fabric to stitch on?

I really only stitch on cotton fabric, its not too thick and there’s usually tons of colours to choose from. I’ve also been making some patches recently and I use this thick felt material.

What are your favourite stitches to use?

With stitches, I honestly don’t know that many technical terms for them! I mostly use varying lengths of the satin stich and French knots to create texture.

What stitches would you like to learn and use?

I really like how the chain stitch looks, I’ve been considering practicing that stitch a bit and then maybe incorporating it into my work.

Do you embroider for a living if not what’s your day job?

I would love to embroider for a living, but I have not opened an online shop yet! I love my day job though; I glaze and fire pottery at a pottery painting studio.

Who would you like to collaborate with and why?

I’m a pretty shy person so collaboration kind of intimidates me! I love the work of Liz L Payne and Allyson Rousseau (her weavings are beautiful!)  and I think our styles could mesh together well.

What do you love about embroidery?

I love that I look forward to doing it every day; I’ve never felt that way about another medium.

Follow Kelly here and check out her site here





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