De­signer Q&A Durene Jones

Just Cross Stitch - - Contents -

Q. When did you be­gin cross stitch­ing?

A. I re­mem­ber learn­ing at ju­nior school, so it was a long time ago. It was prob­a­bly a book­mark or a tea-tray cloth, in a sam­pler style, on col­ored Binca fabric. I did no more stitch­ing for years, so when I was an adult and re­turned to cross stitch­ing, it was a steep learn­ing curve.

Even though it was a fa­mil­iar hobby, I more or less had to learn from scratch. I had been stitch­ing and de­sign­ing ta­pes­tries for my­self be­fore I moved to cross stitch. Although they ap­pear sim­i­lar, there were a lot of dif­fer­ent things to learn. Q. When did you be­gin de­sign­ing cross stitch?

A. It was around 2003. I found I was spend­ing more and more of my free time draw­ing, de­sign­ing and stitch­ing cross stitch, needle­point and em­broi­dery items. I was read­ing a lot of cross stitch mag­a­zines at the time and look­ing at the work the de­sign­ers did.

Even though my ex­per­tise and work was as a graphic de­signer and not in tex­tiles, I knew I would love to de­sign cross stitch as a job. So, I got the courage to send some ex­am­ples of work I had done and some new ideas to one of the UK mag­a­zines. Deep down I didn’t ex­pect to hear any­thing from them, so, need­less to say, I was over the moon when I was con­tacted and told that they were in­ter­ested in one of my de­signs. This was the be­gin­ning of my ca­reer as a cross-stitch de­signer. Q. How did you learn to de­sign?

A. I be­gan by draw­ing de­signs, ideas and char­ac­ters, and then I worked out how to por­tray them in stitches. I started with col­ored pen­cils and graph pa­per, sim­ply trac­ing the de­sign onto the pa­per and then col­or­ing in the squares un­til I had a chart which I could then stitch.

Later, I moved onto my com­puter, but I didn’t have any cross-stitch soft­ware at the time. I did have Adobe Il­lus­tra­tor soft­ware, so I taught my­self how to draw grids and charts us­ing that. Q. What is your fa­vorite type of de­sign to cre­ate?

A. This is a hard one to an­swer as I love de­sign­ing such a wide range of sub­jects and in a wide range of styles. I don’t like stick­ing to one thing and feel­ing like I am not learn­ing or dis­cov­er­ing any­thing new. Among some of my fa­vorite things are an­i­mals, birds, in­sects, flow­ers and, of course, sea­sonal oc­ca­sions like Hal­loween and Christ­mas, which are my two fa­vorite hol­i­days of the year. Q. What are your fa­vorite colors to use?

A. I love green, es­pe­cially happy lime greens. I al­ways have green things nearby, and it’s a fa­vorite color to use when dec­o­rat­ing. For de­sign­ing, it’s not pos­si­ble to do ev­ery­thing in lime green, so I have to be adap­tive and not al­ways choose my own fa­vorite colors, but rather colors that suit the tone and feel of the de­sign. I’ve learned to see the ben­e­fits in a lot of colors, even ones I haven’t liked at all, such as pink. Q. Who or what in­spires you?

A. In­spi­ra­tion can come from any­where and of­ten when you least ex­pect it. Odd lit­tle ideas for de­signs sud­denly pop into my head. I’ve learned to write them down im­me­di­ately be­cause, if I don’t, by the time I find the time to open my sketch­book to draw out my idea it will be gone, and I won’t be able to re­mem­ber it no mat­ter how hard I try. So, I al­ways have a lit­tle note­book and pen nearby.

My love of pho­tog­ra­phy has taught me to look at ob­jects dif­fer­ently, such as see­ing de­tails and tex­tures close up. I find a lot of in­spi­ra­tion in things that aren’t per­fect and new; things you wouldn’t ex­pect to be in­spir­ing of­ten can be. For ex­am­ple, the way that paint weathers and peels to ex­pose years of dif­fer­ent colors of paint can be in­spir­ing. I am al­ways sur­prised from where in­spi­ra­tion comes from. Q. Are you a morn­ing, mid­day or night de­signer? A. I’m def­i­nitely a morn­ing de­signer. I get the most achieved early in the day. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I stop in the af­ter­noon. I’m a fairly ac­tive per­son. I find sit­ting still dif­fi­cult, un­less I’m busy do­ing some­thing. Q. What is your fa­vorite snack while de­sign­ing?

A. I’m afraid that I don’t snack at all while de­sign­ing. I get so lost in my­self and what I’m de­sign­ing that I don’t think to stop for long enough to snack. I have been known to for­get lunch, un­til I get re­ally hun­gry and then I re­al­ize that I haven’t eaten since break­fast. I do keep a big bot­tle of wa­ter near my desk, to en­cour­age me to drink at in­ter­vals through­out the day. Oth­er­wise I’d prob­a­bly for­get to do that too. Q. What do you do when you aren’t de­sign­ing or stitch­ing?

A. I’m nearly al­ways do­ing some­thing cre­ative, and I en­joy many dif­fer­ent hob­bies. I’ve tried lots of hob­bies over the years, from rag rugs and jewelry mak­ing to sculpt­ing with clay and salt dough. These days, more of­ten than not, if I’m not cross stitch­ing then I can be found cro­chet­ing.

Lately I’ve been go­ing back to my em­broi­dery roots and re­dis­cov­er­ing free­hand em­broi­dery, which is some­thing I used to do years ago be­fore cross stitch. I’m hav­ing fun re­vis­it­ing that.

When I can, I also love to get out­side into the gar­den. Q. If you were to give some­one cross-stitch ad­vice, what would it be?

A. Above all else have fun. Af­ter all, it’s a hobby and is meant to be en­joy­able and re­lax­ing. Don’t get too caught up in the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of it. If you do that, it will be­come a chore and that is de­feat­ing the point and will ul­ti­mately put you off. Ev­ery­body has to start at the be­gin­ning; learn slowly and at your own pace. En­joy your hobby!

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