To introduce Jenny Hart is kinda weird. If you are reading this blog I assume you appreciate craft, art and plush. Jenny might not make plush but she is definitely a household name if you are into the other two. A master of embroidery, the woman who made embroidery "cool" again, Jenny is a woman after my own heart. I can't wait for this year's UCU summer show where I will finally be able to meet her. Until then I am overjoyed that she will be another artist for Fiber Arctic. I now present you with, Jenny Hart.
S- Oh Jenny, you are one of our favorites...every one's for that matter. Not only do you make beautiful works of art but you were one of the catalysts for making crafts cool again and not just viewed as "granny crafts". For this, I love you. Were you always a crafty lady? Did you expect to be doing this for your living?
JH- I think you made me blush. I was always drawing, making art, taking photographs and sometimes my own jewelry (I made a pair of earrings out of rubber Cupie dolls in high school). I love to make things by hand, figure out how things worked and have something unique like altered clothing, or hand-painted combat boots. To be honest, I don't consider myself really 'crafty'. My good friend Jennifer Perkins (Naughty Secretary Club / Austin Craft Mafia) is a truly crafty person. She can make something fantastic out of a flyswatter if she has to. Me? I just love embroidery.
S- I purchased some of your patterns many years ago when it was you just shipping them out of your home and you were a one woman operation. How have you adjusted to this huge transition of having employees, books, fans, etc.?
JH- Well, they still ship from my home! But, it's true that it's no longer just me doing everything. I think growing pains sums it up well. It's always hard to give up doing things you've done yourself for so long, but once it's out of your hands and in the capable hands of others (filling orders, answering customer emails) it's such a relief, you don't want to go back to the old way. I do miss the days when I did everything myself, especially filling orders because I would see all the incoming customer emails with the many super sweet messages they send. Jordan is really good about forwarding some of those on to me. The biggest change has to do with having employees (two full time, two part time) because for years 5-6 of the company (we turn 8 this year) I was completely overwhelmed by all the demands, and was really struggling to do the creative work, which is the most important thing for me to be doing. I think having fans is something I'm still getting used to. A woman came up to me at a gallery opening (for someone else) and asked if she could have my autograph, and I was totally stunned. I'm becoming more and more aware of how aware other people are of me and my work, which always surprises me. While others view you as a success, you yourself still feel like you have to put your work out there, tell people about it and get the word out! So, I'm always pleasantly surprised whenever someone approaches me or lets me know they are familiar with my work. It's really touching. I never assume that they do, because there still are looots of people who don't know about Sublime Stitching - more people I can turn on to embroidery! Mwahaha.
S- Not to assume you feel this way but I, myself, occasionally have a hard time with my work. I have been making stuff since I was a kid and when it becomes part of my monthly income it takes away some of it's charm. Because this is your full time job and I am sure a good portion of your livelihood, how do you balance it all?
JH- It's always a challenge. The hardest thing for me to do is make time to do my personal artwork. I love doing the work needed for Sublime Stitching, and those demands are pretty high. I try different types of schedules "Okay, Thursdays and Fridays are for artwork only" but something more urgent always comes up and pulls me away. One of the things my manager does is help me prioritize, which is the hardest part. Every day I ask them what they might need from me, and we all discuss the most urgent demands. That helps enormously. I think figuring out what needs to be done first before you jump into anything and everything you want to try and tackle in a day is really important.
S- Any upcoming events, shows, etc. you are excited about that you might like to share?
JH- I'll be at Art Star Craft Bazaar in Philadelphia the weekend of May 30-31 and for the first time ever, we are sending Jessica and Jordan to be at ICE Atlanta (because I can't be two places at once quite yet). Maker Faire San Mateo is also that weekend, which I hate to miss.
My business column, Crafting a Business (previously on Venuszine.com and those columns are still up!) will be firing up again on the Craftzine.com website! Should be up this week.
I have a new book coming out in the fall called Embroidered Effects: Projects and Patterns to Inspire Your Stitching that I'm super excited about! You can see a preview here
My work is going to be exhibited in Paris and also do a museum tour throughout France (two separate exhibitions) beginning in October! One is a group show at http://www.galerieljbeaubourg.net/start.html opening October 9th.
That's uh...part of what we have going on. The highlights!