Hello! We made it to February! Well done. I'm not being facetious when I say that has been no mean feat in this current political climate. Which is why I'm pee my pants happy at the first guest post of the year (and of this blog!).
Shelly Georgopulos of Shelly Sells Lemonade is a recent addition to my list of heroes. Funny, imaginative, smart, inspiring, extreeemly talented and like many of us she has been on a journey to try and find her feet after we were all smacked so hard to the ground (and continue to be) after the presidential election. BUT during that journey Shelly has embraced activism for equality and change in the fiercest way I've seen in a while.
Part of that journey has been reflected in her embroidery work which she had taken up again following a nasty injury. So today in her hilarious own words; Shelly gives us some good core advice. These will be particularly helpful to those of you beginning your embroidery work but there are also tips that you may not have considered even if you are an advanced embroiderer! Enjoy and if you like being inspired, please follow Shelly on her social media (links below).
Hi folks, Shelly here from Shelly Sells Lemonade.
When Theresa put the call out for guest bloggers I thought, “Sure, what a great way to dip my toe in the water” because I’d like to start a blog of my own. A guest blog seemed genius; try my hand at writing, no commitment, what could possibly go wrong? And then I actually sat down and realized this isn’t my stuff I’m playing with, it belongs to Theresatron, Queen of Everything and her followers are probably as magical as she is and suddenly I’m asking myself WHY OH WHY DID I VOLUNTEER TO DO THIS?
But I did volunteer and I’m a person of my word so, here’s what I’ll do; I’ll give you something super light and set the bar super low with a bit of drivel that will make all future blogs look awesome. Future guest bloggers, you’re welcome.
Shelly’s Six Stitching Secrets
1. Never try to shove all six strands through a needle.
Unless you’re stitching on a loose weave, you’ll ruin your fingers and possibly mess with the fabric doing this. If you want to use all 6 strands, separate a long length of three, thread those three and tie at the bottom. Nothing stresses me more than stabbing too much floss through a tight weave. Well, ok, there are a few things more stressful (have you met Sticky-Solvy?) but this ranks right up there.
2. When you see vintage hoops in a thrift store BUY THEM ALL!
Maybe you only stitch on occasion right now, but this is an addictive hobby and before you know it you’ll be knocking out a hoop a week or more and you will rue the day you passed on that huge lot of vintage hoops.
3. Get on Instagram.
OK, this may be old news, but I’m an old person so cut me some slack. I started using my IG account in October of 2016 and I get a little hit of dopamine with every new follower. I’m closing in on 2000 so that’s a lot of feel good hormones. Seriously though, I “met” all of my embroidery idols (such as our fair Theresatron, Queen of Everything) through IG. Here’s the key though (and it’s so cliché I cant believe I’m actually writing this) you get out of it what you put into it. Roll your eyes but it’s true!! When I see work that amazes me or makes me think “how’d they do that?” I comment or message the artist. They always respond. Holla to all my IG friends!
4. Start an ORT jar.
Old ratty thread, odd random thread. You know, the left over snippets from your work. I’m pretty sure it offends the embroidery gods to throw them out. Any fiber artist worth their salt stores ORTs in a pretty glass jar near their stitching spot. I have a small one at each of my three stitching spots. Watching them grow and slowly fill feels almost as good as collecting likes on an IG post. Plus, having (or needing) small, decorative ORT jars gives you a reason to shop thrift stores again! Last week, while searching for vintage fabric (and hoops) at a thrift store I found this 2000ml glass beaker and I had a perfect excuse to buy it. The embroidery Gods approve. Be jealous.
5. Stitch what makes you happy.
Since opening my Etsy shop in October I’ve decided I’m trying to make a real go of it and I’m not stitching purely for funsies anymore. I listen to a lot of Etsy podcasts and follow some Etsy marketing peeps and most of what I’ve learned has been super helpful but somewhere along the way someone said we need to prep our shops for the holidays. I was new but I got the message that I needed at least one obvious holiday hoop. Something Christmas-y. Now, I love to stitch a wide range of stuff, but I’m a bit of a scrooge around the holidays. They stress me out and I don’t like the commercialization of every damn thing. But these Etsy experts kept talking holiday listings and every one else seemed to be doing it so I designed and stitched a red and gold hoop. Guess what? Nobody bought it. There’s nothing wrong with it, I think the execution is nice, it’s subtle and tasteful (as holiday decorations go) but it’s almost like people can tell there was some crummy motivation behind it. It’s still on my site, you can check it out and laugh at it and message me how silly it looks along side the rest of my stuff. I really ought to deactivate it and take it off my gallery wall in my studio because it hangs there mocking me. But it’s also a loud reminder to stay true.
6. Put yourself out there.
Stretch your comfort zone. I recently saw a call for artists for an exhibit called “Nasty Women” in a new gallery in Philadelphia. I’m a big extrovert and I like connecting with people but the last time my art was displayed was probably 1976 and then it only ever made it to the avocado green refrigerator in my parents’ kitchen. It would have been easy to listen to the voice that said “you’re not a real artist … it’s just embroidery…” ABD Gallery was looking to give voice to women and to create a “response to this divisive time in media, poitics and history…” Now, mind you, my embroidery is pretty tame: mostly botanicals, happy baby gifts, wedding gifts, the occasional ‘Uterus as Art’ and lately some feminist quotes with decorative florals. I could have shied away from an exhibit that promised “outrage and dissent” but unlike the advice to make something marketable and Christmas-y, I loved their message. I loved the idea of submitting something to represent our “collective fears, anger, frustration, determination and strength” and then I was thrilled to find my piece had been accepted. Yes, it was one of the more conservative pieces there. Yes, I felt a little out of place amongst the radical feminists at the opening, but the experience opened doors I didn’t know were there. And that is something that I’m proud of.
Thanks Shelly! I'm totally with you on that ORT thing!
To see more of Shelly's incredible work, visit her on her website or follow her on Instagram, Etsy or Facebook
See you next time!