Designer Edge: Georgie Emery
From her home in the United Kingdom to the countryside of southern France and the lush region of Southeast Asia, embroidery artist Georgie Emery has been inspired by butterflies from across the globe. Her embroideries are the result of careful design planning, meticulous stitching and a deep appreciation for these beautiful creatures. “They represent peace and life and exude such a magical presence as they gently fly around,” says Georgie. With her camera, sketchbook and sewing supplies at the ready, Georgie takes every opportunity to admire these high-flyers and depict them in her richly embroidered designs.
Georgie dipped her toes into sewing when she was eight years old through Brownies (a level of Girlguiding in the UK). “We had to sew our badges onto our sashes, which was actually quite hard because both the badge and the sash were very thick. I do remember trying to always get my stitches on the badges neater than my twin sister.” This basic sewing exercise developed into a passion
for the craft. Georgie completed a Fine Art diploma and an art foundation course, where she fell in love with the unique way you can use thread as a form of drawing. She then went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Textiles from Loughborough University (England). “I will always love turning a very flat line drawing into a textured, colourful piece of embroidery. There is something so beautiful about the transition between the two,” she says.
Along with beautiful butterfly and moth hoops and brooches, Georgie also creates a variety of other embroidery designs, including winter scenes featuring snow-capped mountains and cabins in the woods. “I like to create a collection/theme of designs. Once I have selected my latest theme I find it easier to get into a work flow and I’m able to produce three to five designs back to back. When I’m not doing a collection, I find it harder to keep the momentum going between designs. I like to know what my next design is, otherwise I tend to procrastinate too much and before I know it days have passed since I last did any stitching.”
Once her theme is set, Georgie begins with either a simple line drawing or a more detailed, coloured design. “Once I have a composition and sketch that I’m happy with, I transfer it onto the fabric and begin to select my colour palette,” she says. Georgie doesn’t rush this step as she understands how crucial it is to have the right colour combinations. “With the butterflies it’s easier as nature chooses the palette and I just need to match the thread shades as best as possible.” However, butterflies have their own challenges when it comes to embroidering them. The main part is creating a mirror image of the wings. “This can be very difficult when your design is created by building layers of individual stitches; sometimes when you’ve realised it’s not quite right you’ve already put down 20-50 stitches.” With a large collection of beautiful butterfly designs in her portfolio (and many more on her to-do list), Georgie is mastering this tricky mirroring step.
Not only a talented stitcher, Georgie is observant and is always on the lookout for interesting textures and compositions in nature to photograph for her design ideas. She takes a small selection of threads, hoops and a sketchbook on her adventures. “What I love about embroidery is that it is so portable and generally you don’t need a workspace. My workspace is my whole house and wherever I am when I travel.” When stitching at home, she has her supplies and stock organised in a chest of drawers and a basket holds her current projects, equipment and materials that she uses daily. “I have a very cosy armchair next to a side table that nearly always has a fresh cup of tea sitting on it and a brilliant overhead light with multiple settings. If you want to do embroidery, I cannot recommend enough buying a good-quality light.”
Whether she’s curled up in her armchair or out in nature and surrounded by butterflies, Georgie feels a sense of contentment whenever she’s stitching. “Embroidery is a peaceful and meditative art form and it’s like therapy for me; it allows for a lot of thinking time while your hands are busy sewing,” she says. “When I have a design I’m working on and I have a few solid hours of undisturbed stitching ahead of me, it is the best feeling.”