De­signer Q&A Eileen Gu­rak

Just Cross Stitch - - Contents - Eileen Gu­rak of Hand­b­less­ings Pat­terns

Q. What do you do when you’re not de­sign­ing or stitch­ing?

A. Read—I like to do that a lot. I visit with friends and fam­ily. I watch the birds and squir­rels at the feed­ers. I day­dream. Day­dream­ing is an es­pe­cially im­por­tant ac­tiv­ity for me as it is where some­times de­signs be­gin, prob­lems are solved and de­ci­sions are made.

Q. When did you be­gin stitch­ing?

A. I first learned how to stitch when I was very young. My fam­ily did needle­work. At that time, we only had stamped em­broi­dery de­signs on pil­low­cases and dresser scarves. We mostly did the stem stitch. Cross stitches were stamped on cloth and you fol­lowed that. You couldn’t get a nice even look that way. Years later, counted cross stitch came along. It was neat look­ing. You knew where to put your nee­dle—it was great!

A lit­tle side note: Be­fore my hus­band, Ron, and I were mar­ried, we worked to­gether on a big table­cloth for my mother. Now we work to­gether cre­at­ing cross-stitch pat­terns all the time. Lit­tle did we know how prophetic that table­cloth would be!

Q. When did you first start de­sign­ing?

A. I have de­signed all my life. It prob­a­bly be­gan when my eye-hand co­or­di­na­tion was good enough to cre­ate rec­og­niz­able shapes with my crayons or pen­cil. If there is some­thing in front of me, I ar­range it in a pleas­ant or­der.

Much of my work life out­side the home has been church work in the area of art and en­vi­ron­ment. My book Us­ing

Art in Sun­day Wor­ship is out of print now, but it did serve its pur­pose in the 1980s and ’90s. I de­signed vest­ments and sea­sonal church en­vi­ron­ments un­til I re­tired early about 18 years ago. I also did clay sculp­tures of peo­ple un­til I re­tired. So, the big ques­tion at the time was, “Now what am I go­ing to do?” I looked at the things I loved and could do, which in­cluded cross stitch, needle­point and de­sign. With that, Hand­b­less­ings Pat­terns was born.

Q. How would you de­scribe your de­sign style?

A. My de­sign style is very eclec­tic; in other words, it’s all over the place from geo­met­ric to re­al­is­tic. I de­sign what I like to stitch. The de­signs are sim­ple with not a lot of shad­ing or out­line stitch­ing. Lately I’ve been do­ing sil­hou­ettes. You can see my back­ground in sculp­ture in those de­signs.

Q. What are your fa­vorite de­signs?

A. My fa­vorite piece is the one I’m work­ing on at any given time. How­ever, my all-time fa­vorites are the Hal­loween sil­hou­ettes I’ve de­signed, es­pe­cially the five Scary Night de­signs. Each is a draw­ing done from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. Draw­ing with a bunch of lit­tle squares is a chal­lenge. Deer in the Win­ter Mist and Deer in the Spring Wood are sim­i­lar. They all tell a story, cap­ture feel­ings and en­gage your imag­i­na­tion. That is some­thing I’m proud of. I think the magic of all of my sil­hou­ettes is that the viewer fills in the de­tails. They are all one color—no fa­cial fea­tures, hair or eye color—so the mind fills in the de­tails. The mind makes it yours.

Q. What are your words of wis­dom to stitch­ers?

A. En­joy what you’re work­ing on. Pick styles that you like to stitch. Stitch­ing is a joy, not a job.

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