During this year’s London Design Festival, we are hosting an array of creative businesses and independents at The Makers’ Market, the first pop-up of its kind at The Royal Exchange, which will be hosted on our grand mezzanine area from Monday 20-Friday 24 September. In a series of Q&As, we get to know the makers behind the brands.
Tell us about your brand – what do you make and how did you get started?
Susannah Weiland Collections is an art and home interiors business, which focuses on hand embroidery. From my original artworks, I create surface patterns for wallpaper, furnishing fabric and tablewear.
I am a graphic designer by trade and have had a 20-year career in the fashion design industry as a graphic and textile designer. Over the years I have taken many short courses in a range of art and design disciplines, to explore different creative avenues, and after much exploring, I found my passion in hand embroidery.
How big is your team and where are you based?
I am based in Richmond-upon-Thames where I work on my own from my home studio. I am close to Richmond Park and also the Tube station, which is handy for getting into central London.
Describe the style of your creations in three words:
Handcrafted, detailed, elegant.
Can you explain a little bit about your craft and what makes it so special?
I combine two mediums: tonal black and white pencil drawing with colourful hand embroidery. My work is always inspired by the nature in different locations.
There are four stages to my collections of work, its starts with the photography, I draw from these photographs, then hand embroider and from this artwork I design surface patterns for products.
I have developed a signature style whereby the plants, trees and foliage in my illustrations stay monochrome and the birds, insects and wildlife are embellished with colourful hand stitching. I use a mixture of silk, matt and metallic machine embroidery threads to stitch in fine detail adding colour and texture.
Who or what are your biggest inspirations when creating?
I enjoy going for long walks or runs and being outside around nature. Watching wildlife move around and observing how they interact with each.
What can visitors expect when they come to visit your stall at The Royal Exchange Makers’ Market?
Visitors will see a range of one-of-a-kind hand embroidered cushions, decorative plates and samples of my fabrics and wallpapers from my Botanical Collection, which is inspired by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and will be available to order.
What advice would you give someone looking to explore hand embroidery further?
Experiment and find your own style. There are many different embroidery styles and techniques to try.
Why do you think it is so important to keep the art of hand embroidery going?
Hand embroidery is an ancient craft and a therapeutic slow process that has been used to improve mental and emotional health.
Do you have a favourite piece you have created?
This would be Hyde Park Parakeets Thread Painting, which is on show at this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. It’s of two parakeets in the trees chatting. I took this photograph in Hyde Park on a crazy hot day in 2019 when we had a week-long heat wave in February. The parakeets took a long time to hand embroider and I restitched their tails several times before I was happy with them, but it was worth it!
If you could learn any other craft, what would it be and why?
I would really like to learn Tambour Beading: a haute couture embroidery technique. I could then incorporate this into some of my work in the future.
Susannah Weiland will be in residence at The Makers’ Market at The Royal Exchange, taking place on the mezzanine level from Monday 20-Friday 24 September 2021, 10.30am-6pm
Read more about The Makers’ Market and the exhibitors taking part here