Meet the Maker: Embroidery Artist Mr X Stitch
Embroidery, cross stitch in particular, has seen a massive resurgence in recent years thanks to creative individuals like Mr X Stitch (aka Jamie Chalmers) pushing the boundaries of traditional needle crafts and providing a much needed updated and modern twist!
In everyday life Mr X Stitch is the super talented Jamie Chalmers, known for his amazingly intricate and quirky cross stitch pieces. Here we find out about Jamie’s design process, how he’s preparing for his imminent head to head with fellow needlecrafter Lisa Comfort at this years Handmade Fair, and what’s still to come for 2015 . . .
What first sparked your interest in cross stitch?
I got into cross stitch because I like the contrast between being a tattooed guy using such a traditionally female craft. Little did I know cross stitch was such a great pastime and before long I’d fallen in love with it.
Do you have any other crafting passions?
I’ve tried a fair few crafts over the years – carpentry is one that I enjoyed – but in the past couple of years I’ve really started to enjoy cooking. That and stitching are the ones for me (for now!)
What is your favourite form of embroidery?
I’ll always defend my beloved cross stitch for its simplicity and versatility, but I also love the high quality embroidery styles like goldwork, whitework and the highly disciplined Japanese embroidery.
What would be your top five tips for getting started in cross stitch?
- Start on something small and simple to find your stitching rhythm.
- Don’t worry about the back. It matters not.
- Start with dark colours and work toward light colours, so that if your stitchery takes ages, it won’t get too dirty.
- Each stitch puts a half-turn in the thread, so from time to time, drop the thread and let your needle undo the twists – it’ll avoid accidental knots.
- Visit Mr X Stitch for hundreds of posts about cool cross stitch that you might like!
What design process do you go through when starting a new piece of work?
I tend to do designs with words and phrases and so I’ll spend time in Photoshop making the image I want, before transferring it to PCStitch software for conversion to a pattern. From there, it’s just a question of getting my stitch on!
When it comes to inspiration, where do you start? Are there any websites/blogs you find yourself going to time and again?
There are so many great blogs out in the internet, and I really enjoy Lifehacker (a non-crafty self-improvement blog). I’m always impressed with the Textile Artist website who have fascinating interviews with stitching practitioners – they have recently produced an eBook that’s an amazing collection of 3D Mixed Media work.
Have you got any advice for people looking to start their own craft blog?
Make sure you love the thing you’re blogging about because you’ll be in it for the long haul. I’ve been running Mr X Stitch for seven years and I’m only just getting going!
You must get to see lots of amazing artists work, who would be your top three textile artists to keep an eye on?
LUKE Haynes is an amazing quilter from LA, Zoe Williams makes fantastic needle felted creations, and Erin Riley is the coolest weaver on the planet.
It’s you second year at the Handmade fair, excited? Nervous?
I’m well up for it! Last year I ran cross stitch workshops for 80 people and that was a new PB. This year’s going to be bigger and better – it’s such fun and I look forward to meeting loads of new people along the way.
Have you been busy preparing for your head to head with Lisa Comfort?
In times of competition, I choose to focus my powers using the meditative strengths of extreme embroidery. In the past I’ve stitched at the top of mountains and in preparation for Lisa I’ve been stitching underwater to sharpen my creative nerves. (That might not be true). Lisa is a mighty opponent with strong sewing skills and so I’m going to have to bring my A Game to the Handmade Fair!
And for the future what’s next?
So many things are on the horizon, I don’t know where to begin. I’m just glad to be doing my bit to push at the public preconceptions about embroidery with workshops, talks and all the Mr X Stitch online business. Embroidery is an amazing art form and I love it.
If you’d like to find out more about Mr X Stitch aka Jamie Chalmers and view more of Jamie’s amazing creations, make sure to check out the website, Mr X Stitch, as well as the Facebook and Twitter feeds.