De­signer Q&A Judy Whit­man JBW De­signs

Just Cross Stitch - - Jonquil & Rose -

Q: How did you be­come a needleart de­signer?

A: I com­bined my love for stitch­ing with my teach­ing and art back­ground, and be­gan of­fer­ing needle­point classes to friends. I quickly re­al­ized that in or­der to be a good teacher, I would have to de­sign a num­ber of projects to use in my classes.

Many of those early needle­point de­signs were con­verted to cross stitch pat­terns in the 1980s, and I be­gan to think about sell­ing my de­signs to a larger au­di­ence. I'm guess­ing that most de­sign­ers are self-taught—us­ing skills that we've ac­quired over the years. Q: When did you be­gin sell­ing your de­signs?

A: I first ex­hib­ited at a whole­sale trade show with a ven­dor who made quilted totes, so our prod­ucts did not com­pete with one another. That ex­pe­ri­ence al­lowed me to see how a booth was set up, how to ful­fill or­ders, and what I needed to do to ex­pand my line. Within a few years, I felt con­fi­dent enough to ex­hibit on my own at my first whole­sale show in a con­ven­tion cen­ter in Char­lotte, N.C. Q: What ad­vice would you give to new cross-stitch de­sign­ers?

A: First, study the in­dus­try in depth, as there are hun­dreds of cross-stitch de­sign­ers in our field. The most im­por­tant ad­vice I can give is to make sure that your de­signs are unique to the in­dus­try. You need to have prod­ucts which set you apart from ev­ery­one else. Ide­ally, you want your cus­tomers to rec­og­nize your style and want to see more of what you have de­signed.

My sec­ond sug­ges­tion is to find a unique com­pany name and a logo.

And lastly, you need to es­tab­lish a col­lec­tion of prod­ucts so that you have a va­ri­ety of items to of­fer to shop own­ers. Q: What in­spires you? A: For years I have kept a note­book of de­sign ideas. Some are in­spired by a color pal­ette; oth­ers by an­tique sam­pler mo­tifs, old al­pha­bets, quo­ta­tions and hol­i­day themes; plus sug­ges­tions from shop own­ers and con­sumers. I of­ten pho­to­graph build­ings, interiors, rug bor­ders, ceil­ing de­signs, etc., when we are trav­el­ing. Q: Do you have a fa­vorite crossstitch de­sign project?

A: Sev­eral years ago I was asked to de­sign a book for the Kansas City Star Quilts pub­lish­ing group. The project took about 10 months to com­plete. I chose to con­cen­trate on el­e­gant de­signs for spe­cial oc­ca­sions and pro­duced 11 de­signs for the pub­li­ca­tion.

One of the most in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ences was trav­el­ing to Kansas City to be a part of the pho­to­graphic ses­sion. We worked in an an­tique mall, us­ing not only an­tiques that I had brought with me, but also items that I found through­out the store to set up vi­gnettes for each de­sign. The com­pany did an amaz­ing job with the lay­out, the graphic de­signs and the pho­tog­ra­phy, and I was very priv­i­leged to have worked on this 64-page book, called Af­fec­tion­ately Yours. Q: De­scribe your perfect cross stitch/de­sign day.

A: I'd be up in my stu­dio, which is a large space on the sec­ond floor of our home, and there would be soft mu­sic play­ing. The sun would be shin­ing, and I'd have a cup of hot tea by my side. A perfect day would in­clude stitch­ing, se­lect­ing col­ors and fab­rics, and plan­ning the next de­signs. I of­ten stitch in the evenings as there doesn't seem to be enough time dur­ing the day to fin­ish all of my mod­els. But isn't that the perfect way to end the day? Q: Do you have more ad­vice for Just CrossStitch read­ers?

A: I just heard a quote last week that ex­presses my hope for our in­dus­try: “You al­ways have enough to give some­one some­thing else.” Each one of us needs to think about shar­ing our love for cross stitch with a friend, a child or some­one whom we think also might en­joy learn­ing some­thing new.

The art of stitch­ing adds such a sense of peace and calm to our lives. What a thrill it is to share those skills with a fam­ily mem­ber or even a stranger. You never know what a dif­fer­ence you might make in some­one's life.

The French Coun­try line in­cludes more than 50 de­signs made up of small sam­pler mo­tifs. Each de­sign con­tains mo­tifs that cor­re­late with the name and theme of the piece. For ex­am­ple, the Crow con­tains mo­tifs in­clud­ing an acorn, a black cat, an owl, sev­eral smaller crows, a pump­kin and a squir­rel. “They are such fun to de­sign,” Jane Whit­man said,” as it is sim­i­lar to as­sem­bling a puz­zle.”

"Frosty" is part of JBW's "Sing a Song of Christ­mas" line of pat­terns. Look for JBW de­signs at your lo­cal needle­work shop. Note: Judy does not sell di­rectly to con­sumers on­line, only to re­tail­ers and whole­salers.

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