I have been following Joanna’s canvas line “The Plum Stitchery” on Instagram ever since she came on to the needlepoint scene earlier this year. Today on the Stitch Style, I wanted to share a little more about her and her adorable designs (and a fun giveaway of one of her canvases!) with you all. I know you are going to love her work just as much as I do!
Tell us about yourself, Joanna! Where is home for you?
Hello! My home is in northeast Ohio, where I live with my husband, Jack, and three children, Jane (7), Henry (5), and Margaret (2). The path to The Plum Stitchery was an odd one that I never would have imagined could lead me here: I majored in English and Writing in college (after first majoring in Graphic Design and Nursing); my first decade of professional life was spent in marketing, which I left when I had my first child; I then was a Realtor for several years until I had my second child; and finally I landed where I really belonged, working part-time in a needlepoint shop (Wool & Willow in Cleveland Heights).
What was your first experience with needlepoint? Who taught you how to stitch?
My mother-in-law was introduced to needlepoint in 2012 by my aunt-in-law and I remember she called me and said, “Joanna, you would love this.” At the time, I was a serial hand-quilter but a few days later she brought me to Wool & Willow and, after my first project, I was hooked.
What led you to start designing your own needlepoint canvases, and what is your process like?
My mother-in-law, once again, was a major impetus for pulling me in the direction of painting canvases. I had tried once or twice to paint my own canvas with what I would call very humble results; my mother-in-law was bird-watching around this time and asked if I could paint her a canvas of northeast Ohio birds on congress cloth. The Ohio Birds canvas was the result of that effort and it was the first canvas I figured out a solid approach to designing and painting.
When I set out to design a canvas, my process is first to sketch the design on paper then trace the general outlines with a black pen; I then place my canvas directly over my design and start painting, working from detailed outlines outward to the background, then adding final touches. I initially tried drawing my design on canvas and filling in from there, but for me, it was a mess.
What inspires you?
So much! After awhile, it seems like everything I see makes me wonder how it could render on canvas. More than anything, I am inspired by colors, architecture, and nature. We moved to a 1965-era house this summer, and it brought me to design a geometric series; I saw an ad in a fashion magazine last year with beautiful color combination of pink, burgundy, gold, and emerald green, and it inspired a belt design; I saw a very saturated sapphire blue and it led to the Atlas pillow. It’s been the most exciting part of my job, being able to exorcise the design ideas as they hit me.
There are also many artists who also inspire me and I’ve had the absolute privilege of collaborating with some. It’s an experience to adapt the work of another artist, to assume their style for a design; it’s like using someone else’s hand to create something that isn’t my natural inclination to create. When I collaborate, it is always my effort to make exact replicas of their work on canvas; it’s made me a better artist to get a sense of another artist’s style and sense of color.
Do you have a favorite canvas in your line?
There is not one that stands out as my favorite (there are several I really love), but the one I had the most fun creating was hands-down The Mermaid Inn. It took several days and painting it was like reading a good book I couldn’t put down.
What is your favorite piece you have ever stitched?
My favorite project was a Strictly Christmas stocking for my daughter, Jane. I saw it in the shop, it was covered in pink, and when I saw it, I wanted Jane to have it. I still remember the nights I spent binge-watching Downton Abbey and stitching that stocking. It was before I learned to basketweave properly, there are no special fibers or stitches, but I’m so happy to hang that stocking each year.
When you’re not painting canvases, how do you spend your time?
If I’m not painting, I’m stitching or spending time with my family, or stitching while I spend time with my family!
Today, on Stitch Style, Joanna is giving away one of her best selling canvases- her Atlas Ornament. It’s one of my favorites too!
To enter, you must follow Joanna on Instagram here. You must also subscribe to Stitch Style’s news letter in the box on the right. It is important to note that this giveaway is for new and old readers alike. Once you have entered, send me a note on my contact page here to let me know. One winner will be selected at random next Saturday. Be sure to enter by Friday January 25 to be considered. Good luck, and Happy Stitching!