Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting Chatty with Michelle Threefold...

A small tapestry sample by Michelle before embarking on a larger work.

As part of my 'Getting Chatty' series, I spoke to the lovely Michelle Threefold about starting off in tapestry.  I think it's fantastic to see a new breed of people getting involved in woven tapestry and also to find out why they wanted to learn the medium.  I think Michelle is a bit of a girl after my own heart who is creating some very bold designs!  Enjoy the interview!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from? 
My name’s Michelle, and I live by the ocean in Adelaide, South Australia with my partner Anita, her daughter Lily and two naughty cats.
I first went to art school after high school, but couldn’t find my perfect medium.  It was only afterwards that I discovered needlepoint – I knew then that WOOL would become my holy grail of mediums!

Moon phase cushion - amazing needlepoint!

What do you do and make? You do a few different things which I'm sure inspires each thing!  
I work mainly with chunky cross stitch on open-weave canvas, but am also learning tapestry weaving.  I hope to incorporate both in my practice, but the tapestry is going to take many more years to master.
I started designing cross stitch kits in 2000, because at the time there was a lack of ‘alternative’ designs on the market.  I started selling my kits and patterns on my website in 2005, but moved to Etsy in 2010.  I’m currently working on ready-stitched pieces, such as clutch purses with bats all over them.
I thought that my cross stitch and tapestry work would be separate – but a tapestry artist friend suggested that I combine my cross stitch, tapestry and goth-ness, which is something I hadn’t thought of before … fresh creative eyes are very helpful!
What brought you to tapestry? How are you currently learning it? 
Anita found an advert for the SW TAFE correspondence course in a Textile Forum magazine.  She gave it to me and said ‘you should do this!’. 
I’m a masochist – if it is very very difficult and takes a very very long time, then my interest is piqued!  I like the idea of learning a very traditional and complicated mastercraft, and using it to create nontraditional artwork. 
Learning by correspondence is both wonderful and difficult – wonderful because I have a ‘lone wolf’ personality and prefer working things out for myself, and difficult because sometimes it would be much easier to be *shown* what to do rather than trying to interpret written instructions. 
Diamond pillow.

What are the preconceptions of being a tapestry weaver/ embroidery person, textiler ? Are there any weird and wonderful comments that you have received? 
Textiles are definitely the underdog of the art world – many people cannot grasp the fact that creating art with wool is just as valid as creating art with paint or clay.  There is a ‘craft’ aspect to every medium – the artist utilises their craft in order to express original creative ideas through their art.
Most of the time people think I’m joking when I tell them that I’m a textile artist – they say that I ‘don’t look like the type of person who would be into that’!   To be honest, I get a kick out of that – I love challenging stereotypes, and am drawn to things that are considered to be unusual or unexpected.
Any tips or comments that you could give to someone who is thinking about learning tapestry?  
I’m in my 3rd year of a 6 year course, and I’ve already discovered that tapestry weaving requires passion, determination … and maybe a bit of an obsessive/compulsive personality?
The tapestry community is quite small, but I am very fortunate to have found other unconventional souls, such as yourself, who inspire me so much!   I find that I have received lots of encouragement and advice from tapestry weavers, who are eager for more people to learn.
For someone who is thinking about learning tapestry, the Warrnambool TAFE correspondence course has been going for around 20 years, and is great for those in remote areas.  If you live in a city like Melbourne you probably have more choices, since RMIT do some excellent courses.  I hope these courses continue to be made available to potential students!
Needlepoint book mark, love the green leopard print!

Where do you create? Are you a studio gal or at home?
Home studio for the moment … though I’d love to have a separate studio one day.  I’m about to move into a new house, and the upstairs living room is my designated studio space.  It has an ocean view, so I’m not complaining ;)

Is there a soundtrack to your making? What do you listen to?
Oh yes, I’ve been into Goth music since I was about 15 … and nothing has really changed!  I only listen to Goth, Deathrock, Coldwave and Post-Punk.  I don’t listen to mainstream music at all – a friend once said I had a ‘mainstream filter’, and he was correct! 
I co-host a Goth/Deathrock radio show with Anita, and also do a solo Coldwave/Post-Punk show – both on Cathedral 13 internet radio.  Usually when I’m working I have Cathedral 13 playing in the background ;)

What do you hope to have achieved in 5 years? (such as exhibitions etc)
At the moment, my main goal is to get better and better at tapestry weaving! 
I’m also working towards creating a body of work centred around the Goth/Deathrock Subculture – I’d love to eventually create enough to have an exhibition, combining tapestry with cross stitch. 
Where can people find out more about what you do?  Share your links!
Here’s my blog, where I document my struggles with learning tapestry, as well as other random thoughts:  www.threefolddesigns.blogspot.com
And my main website for my cross stitch designing is www.threefoldneedlepoint.com

What are 3 words that you would use to describe your work?
That’s the hardest question of the lot!  Umm, ‘Loud’, ‘Dramatic’ and ‘Provocative’!!!

Check out Michelle's blog and website, I love seeing her work in progress and all the new things that she is learning too!  A big thank you to Michelle for being part of my 'Getting Chatty' series.  If you would like to read last month's 'Getting Chatty' click here! 

Michelle also drilled me with some questions relating to tapestry weaving that were aimed at those starting out in the medium (great learning tool Michelle!)  You can see what I have to say on her blog here!

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