Beth Hoyes is an embroidery artist and art therapist. Originally from the United Kingdom and now based in Denver, Colorado, Beth runs a small embroidery business Rabbit Hat Designs. She is the author of Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds. We asked Beth a few question about her artistic process.
Quarto Creates: How did you first become interested in embroidery?
Beth Hoyes: I dabbled in embroidery as a kid, mainly stitching birds onto clothes, then was drawn back to embroidery when I moved to the States a few years ago.
I was going through the obstacle-filled process of transferring my Art Therapy accreditation here and started to embroider small moth hoops. I think at the time I was charmed by the comforting and soothing aspects of embroidery. I also loved the packable character of embroidery materials, especially handy for stitching while camping in the Rockies. I fell in love with the process, working within hoops and the endless possibilities of nature images to work with.
QC: Who was your most influential teacher?
BH: Mrs. Davis didn’t teach embroidery, but she was an amazing English Literature teacher at my high school (known as secondary school in the UK).
She always wore cherry red lipstick and colorful silk neckerchiefs. I was inspired by her passion and the choices of literature she taught us. I still remember reading ‘Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry’ by Mildred D Taylor with my class, as it literally thundered and poured with rain outside. She would always read books and poems in such a lively way, savoring every word and drawing out every detail. It was hard not to find her enthusiasm infectious and I think her example filters into a lot of the things I’m passionate about today.
QC: Where do you find inspiration for your embroidery?
BH: Nature is my main inspiration.
I love the diversity of creatures and plants out there and am always fascinated by the beauty in nature patterns and textures. I feel embroidery lends itself so well to capturing nature in all its mini and massive forms. Whether I’m out and about or at home I find myself paying attention to nature, often distracted by things like tree roots breaking through concrete, a passing bug or watching leaves outside the window. I love the connectivity in nature and hope to share the feelings of immersion, belonging and wonder that I find in nature through my embroideries.
QC: Have your finished products ever turned out different than your expectation, and how do you deal with that?
BH: When working with macro nature embroideries, I often find that the final result surprises me.
There’s always a point in the middle of the process with my macros where I feel a little uncertain as to where the work will end up, but then it somehow comes together in the end. Generally I enjoy a surprise ending with the embroideries, but every now and then I do find the final piece a little more wonky or cluttered than I’d wanted. Although, I like to think of everything as imperfect and unique and I feel it’s good sometimes to accept the wonks and imperfections as well as the successes in embroideries.
QC: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from creating?
BH: I think the most important thing I’ve learned is not to think too much and just immerse myself in the process, I often find my most effective work comes from being in a relaxed and organic state of mind.
Which I guess applies to many things in life. When being creative I find it best to follow my nose with what I want to work on next, if I fight my instincts and work on something I’m not that excited about it shows in the final piece, on the other hand when I really enjoy the making process I feel it’s reflected in the work. Another great thing I’ve learned is that it’s all about practice and perseverance, I find the more I stitch and experiment, the more I have fun with the process and get the results I’m aiming for in the final pieces.
Learn more about Beth’s work on Instagram @rabbithatdesigns and online at rabbithatdesigns.com. Be sure to get your copy of Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds available this summer!