Meet Kelly Flegal!...
Kelly is the artist behind Chest of Drawers and The Embroidered Bride, two amazing online stores featuring gorgeous needlecraft products. I was attracted to Kelly's work because of its vintage feel and intricacy in embroidery techniques. I have been lucky to have a little bit of Kelly's time to answer a few questions about her craft. Enjoy!
How did you get into needlecraft?
I graduated with a degree in fine arts, majoring in fiber and material studies at Tyler School of Art, of Temple University, Philadelphia PA. Initially I had intended on being a painting major, but after taking a course in textiles I completely fell in love with the world of fiber arts. I love the freedom that comes with this field. Unlike other areas of study I was able to make both two and three dimensional artwork, often stretching the boundaries of "craft" vs. "fine art". I was also able to combine the different forms of fiber art into installation art, utilizing all the skills I learned in one space. In school I focused on combining the many options into installations which featured needle-felted sculptures. After graduating, I was given the honor of being accepted as an apprentice at the highly regarded, Fabric Workshop and Museum of Philadelphia PA. Here I was given the chance to develop my textile design and silk-screened yardage techniques. At the same time I was spending all of my free time embroidering millions of french knots for my Etsy shop The Chest Of Drawers. Now I also have another Etsy shop which focuses on bridal embroidery where I have explored traditional floral techniques (www.etsy.com/shop/TheEmbroideredBride). I find the process of embroidering to be relaxing and therapeutic, something I really enjoy. I love to share this passion with my Etsy friends and I hope to continue to learn new techniques that I hope to share with the world.
What inspires you in your artworks?
Having a minor in art history, I am deeply inspired by the level of craftsmanship in historical paintings, tapestries, sculpture and even historical furniture. I was greatly influenced by my 3 month stay in Rome, during a study abroad program. Here I became very intriqued in the role that society and class played in portraiture and other forms of art and craft throughout history. Also, I am greatly inspired by color and how this affects the mood and emotion within each of us as human beings. This is primarily what influences my gradient embroidery hoops seen on my Etsy shop. Finally, I find that repeating the same process over and over again is very theraputic, which is why I am able to build up surface with millions of french knots without going crazy (haha!).
Can you give us an insight into your process of creating your products from start to finish?
This depends on the piece, but for the most part I am inspired by color. I pull the embroidery floss combinations that are speaking to me at that moment and from there decide what it will become. I love the process of organizing color into gradients and finding each minor change in color and putting them in order. From there I usually let the form of the gradient or the jewelry find itself, rather than forcing it into something that feels exactly that, forced. I am currently working on gradient embroidery hoops of multiple colors and this has been a fun challenge that I can't wait to share with my shop followers. In terms of my bridal shop, I like to talk to my brides and learn as much as I can about them, their FI, and their wedding. I like to know their inspiration, see their mood-boards and get an idea for their color scheme. This makes it personal and I am able to create something completely unique to their wedding and personalize it to their relationship. It is a very rewarding and fulfilling experience when I have pleased a couple and added a little light to their big day.
How do you keep yourself organised?
I have never been one to keep up with their sketchbook, and I have tried since middle school. I tend to be very unorganized in that respect and try to keep all of my scattered pieces of sketches on paper in binders. I also keep binders with color swatches, print outs of techniques, and project ideas. I am also very very OCD when it comes to my embroidery floss. I think I have about 4 or 5 plastic containers of organized floss which i re-organize often. Other than that I have fabric and supplies in wall storage. I try my best to keep organized when it comes to each project as well, designating one section to the piece that I am working on at the current time.
Do you ever have creative blocks? How do you get through them?
I do have creative blocks, I think everyone does. I try to keep myself busy, working on something, anything, all the time. Otherwise it is so hard to get back into the flow of things. Luckily, I have many different outlets, if I am getting a block from one of my shops I try to work on something in the other and if I have trouble making anything for my shops I try to work on some fine art pieces. In the case that I am completely lost for an idea, which happens, I love to search the internet for artwork and inspiration. Eventually there is something that inspires. I am also a sucker for art - books and flip through them often to get inspiration. Sometimes you find inspiration in the least suspecting of places.
Contacts for Kelly are...