Amy Jones of ‘Cheese Before Bedtime’ creates embroidery with a difference in her Auckland studio with husband Evan, baby Emme and dog Pepper by her side. She embraces interior trends, street fashion and kiwi culture in her textiles. Amy has a degree in Interior Design and comes from a Visual Merchandising background. All pieces are hand stitched and limited in number. Amy’s ideas bombard her most just before bedtime and usually after a cheesy dinner.
Carrie: Welcome Amy, when did you first realize your love of the arts?
As a child I was constantly in the middle of an art project so the love of arts was always in me. I remember getting a chalk pastel set at 8 and drawing the same pattern with the perfect shading over and over again! Every school holiday was an opportunity to explore a new craft and living in Nelson, New Zealand I was surrounded by an arty culture. I went against my gut and took sciences and maths at secondary school. Eventually I found my way back to the arts.
Carrie: Can you describe your work to us?
I like to create modern embroidery using a printed outline technique with only some details stitched. I think this makes the embroidery sections ‘pop’ from the background. I like to create pieces that are eye catching and maybe even a talking point. I am self-taught and keep my techniques very simple with satin and back stitches. In fact I’m not even sure if that’s the right terms – I just stitch! Currently I’m obsessed with stitching bird masks on quirky people. In the past I have stitched floral crown girls, cacti and hipsters.
Carrie: How did you discover your unique style/creative voice? Have you always worked in this style?
I began stitching because I was sick of trying to master painting. I didn’t have any embroidery idols or inspiration. I did what felt current and bumbled my way through. My works have a kind of naivety as I’m not using classic stitching techniques. My faces are very simple line drawings but personality comes through in their pout, stares or tattoos. My style has definitely evolved with time and I improve with each piece.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
We have an open plan home and my ‘studio’ is a table in the corner of the lounge for all to see. The downside is that I have to keep it looking lovely but the upside is that I can work from home and still feel involved with my husband and baby whilst sitting at my desk. I do however do a lot of the actual stitching on my couch watching awful reality TV.
Carrie: How and when do ideas come to you?
I have creative peaks and troughs. Sometimes I am bombarded with lots of new ideas (normally at night) and other times nothing. Because stitching is such a time consuming practice by the time one range is finished I usually have an idea for the next range. I like to keep up to date with current trends but I find what I’m stitching is based on my life at the time.
When I worked in fashion I stitched hipsters in cool appliqued clothes. Pre-baby it was interiors and plants. And now staying at home and looking after my baby I love hearing the birds and discovering nature with her – so I’m focusing on the bird masks.
Carrie: What do you do if you feel stuck?
When I’m feeling stuck I allow myself to take a few days off – no stitching allowed. Sometimes that’s just not possible so I’ll focus on other parts of Cheese Before Bedtime like sketching a new range, finishing off an old piece or even doing my taxes!
Carrie: What’s one obstacle you’ve faced as a creative and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is learning when to say “no.” Initially I said yes to any interview, custom design or stockist request. I made the tough decision to no longer create custom pieces and now have only a select few stockists. This has meant that I can focus on new designs and spend my time more wisely.
Carrie: Advice for people new to their artist practice?
Get your work out there and keep practising. Try to create items that you love yourself to keep motivation high. Oh and learn to have some time off occasionally. 😉
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
I love Etsy. It was my first avenue into online sales and it connects me with so many countries and creatives. You really get a feel for what is trending and I love being inspired by others ‘favourites.’ Not a day goes by that I don’t trawl Etsy in some way. I also try and purchase as much as I can from other Etsy sellers as its wonderful buying unique pieces directly from the maker.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Anna Valdez paints gorgeous interiors with lots of potted plants and patterns. Stephanie Clark for stunning embroidery. Sarah Neale for cute people illustrations.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is expressing your internal thoughts and ideas outwardly in an abstract way.
Be Creatively Courageous: How do you know when it’s time to start saying no? What do you imagine to be the best incarnation of your artist business? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
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