Designer Q&A Durene Jones
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!