Tell us about your process from conception to creation
I am always excited to start a new portrait. I have to use photographs as a starting point, but I am keen not to just copy them.
I try to interpret the image in a way, using different materials and composition to add to the narrative of the piece. I draw an initial plan onto tracing paper, thinking about the lines I will need to machine. This is then transferred to felt; I use a lot of felt as it comes in such vibrant colours, is strong, and does not fray. Following my guidelines, I build up the form of the face with different coloured threads.
I blow up small sections of the original photo on my phone as I go, in order to capture meticulous details I want to add in. To add realism to the face I shade it and add glass eyes, filled to the correct shape.
I love sewing hair, and I sew it in many different sections, before constructing it with the help of the drawing. Musicians are often visually defined by their hairstyles and, if you get it right, the piece comes alive!
Following this, I decide how I want to present the subject’s clothes. I like experimenting with different materials and I don’t think sewing should be confined to fabric. In the past, I have sewn with newspaper, cigarette cards, bible pages, etc