Meet Tess Kvale the artist behind the needlepoint canvas line Pewter and Pine. I had the pleasure of meeting Tess at the Dallas Market this past year. I just finished stitching her “To the Mountains” ornament and am looking forward to catching up with her again in person in a few weeks at the trade show in Orlando!
Tell us about yourself Tess. Where is home for you?
I am originally from NY. I grew up in Ossining, a little town in Westchester County. When I hit high school age, my family moved to New Canaan, CT. So I spent a good chunk of my life there and now my parents live in East Dorset, VT. So when people ask where I am from my short answer is “The Northeast” or “New England”. When I think of home though, I think of Vermont 🙂 I have also moved around a bit in my adult life so pieces of my heart are also in Los Angeles (Topanga Canyon), New Orleans & Manhattan.
What was your first experience with needlepoint and who taught you to stitch?
I come from a family with a deep love for needlepoint. My mom, designer of Doolittle Stitchery, has been a needlepoint designer for decades. I have memories as a little girl hanging out in needlepoint shops. My Mom worked at Eye of the Needle in Larchmont, NY & at Silver Needle in Chappaqua, NY back when they were open. I remember going with her there all the time and I absolutely loved it. You can probably guess that my Mom is the person who taught me how to stitch.
What lead you to start designing your own canvases? What is your process like?
Back in 2014 I had hit a weird point in my life. I was a little lost and wasn’t sure what path to take or what career to pursue. It was a stressful time for me. I lived down in New Orleans at that time and I was talking to my mom on the phone one day. She could tell I was stressed and she suggested I try stitching. She explained to me that it is a very relaxing & meditative hobby and I should consider it. So for the first time, even though it was accessible to me my entire life, I decided to try stitching. Soon after that conversation I made a trip to East Dorset, VT to visit my family and my Mom taught me then. I fell in love with it. My Mom was pretty excited about this and she proposed I start helping her with painting canvases. So immediately after learning how to stitch, I learned how to stitch paint. And loved that just as much 🙂 All fell into place from that point.
My process seems to always be changing. For the most part It’s pretty simple though – I get inspired or get an idea and I start mapping it out onto canvas. Sometimes I will use a program on my computer called “MacStitch” to create the design first. That way I can go back and make changes along the way. Other times I will just start designing right on the needlepoint canvas. Can depend on the complexity and type of design.
Where do you find inspiration?
I get inspiration from all over. I feel lucky to live in a part of the country where it seems the aesthetic I gravitate towards is all around me. One of my favorite ways to start the day is scrolling through Instagram. It really gets my creative juices going! It’s such a visual platform. I purposefully follow lots of accounts that I know will spark ideas. From there I use my own creativity and imagination to design.
Do you have a favorite canvas in your line?
I’m not sure I have a number one favorite but here are a few at the top of my list – No Drama Llama, Good at Naps (cause it’s just so true), The Tally Ho Textile, The 4 animals heads (designed by Christie DeNizio), Soulfully Southwestern, and the most recent one is Mi Casa es su Casa.