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Can Cross Stitch be Promoted as Artwork?

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been contemplating the following question off and on for a while, and I’m keen for you to let me know what you think. In front of you is a photograph, a water colour painting and a cross stitch picture of the same scene – a waterfall in a rainforest. All three are for sale and priced at $2000 each. Which one do you purchase and why?

In September last year (2019), I was watching Jody Ellis’s Flosstube episode 33 (aka Unconventional X Stitch) dated 23 May 2019 and towards the end of clip, she talked about the value that many people place on cross-stitch when it’s compared with other crafts such as sculpting, painting, drawing and in some circumstances, photography. Finding that many people are willing to pay more for the traditional arts to have in their homes than the available embroidered works.

Because of this clip, it got me thinking about how we, as stitcher’s, can change people’s perceptions of cross stitch and the value it has, so that it’s perceived at the same levels as the other crafts where people pay hundreds and thousands of dollars. Additionally, Jody’s clip got me thinking about my blog post earlier in 2019 where I questioned the importance of perceptions – especially when it comes to cross stitch. Looking back on this piece, it had very much a rant vibe to it – mostly because of some things I was experiencing at work – and I don’t think my message came across as well as what it could or should have.

So what would be the best approaches for changing people’s perceptions and understanding of cross stitch?

The Archibald’s/ARIA’s/BAFTA’s/ACTA’s of Cross-stitch

Nearly every industry has their own awards to recognise the achievements of people working in that industry. Many of us will have heard about the Archibald’s, ARIA’s etc. and we know that they are prestigious awards and highly coveted by people who are part of those industries. The closest cross-stitch gets to these kinds of awards and accolades is winning best in show at the regional show or royal show. We may be pushing it a bit if we say that we can get awards from Fashion Week or Golden Globes for costume design.

What I’m getting at with this, is that people perceive cross-stitch as something to do to ease stress and anxiety. That it’s something that our grandmother’s do or did. I definitely use cross stitch as a way of unwinding and reducing my stress. Additionally, there are a lot of people out there who make their own clothes, paint, sculpt etc for the same reasons. However, there are many more people out there who are wanting to make a living out of cross stitch and are struggling to do so, because it’s seen as just a hobby or a form of therapy.

By having some prestigious awards associated with cross-stitch, it will elevate the works of art to the same levels as fashion, music, acting, painting, drawing, photography etc. People will start to appreciate the time and effort that goes into the creation of these artworks.

Cross-stitch reality television show

Master Chef, My Kitchen Rules and similar cooking competition shows gets us excited and interested in cooking. The Block, Flip or Flop, Masters of Flip etc make some of us want to renovate or at least give our current interiors a make-over. And talent shows like Australia’s Got Talent, The Voice, America’s Next Top Model and So You Think You Can Dance have us wondering if our singing in the shower or a secret talent could be our ticket to some fame and fortune.

These shows also take us behind the scenes to some of the industries that we do in our daily lives, but don’t always do for a living. They also provide us with ideas for what we can do at home, aspire to be when we grow up or become as part of a career change.

What would we need to dramatise to make a cross stitch reality show interesting for people? In many of these shows we get to find out a bit about the people who are on the show and by the end of it all, we feel like we know them a bit better and, in some circumstances, they become a part of our family. We have achieved some of this through social media channels. Via Flosstube especially, we have gotten to know many of the people with their own channels and the projects they’ve worked on.

A lot of drama can happen with cross-stitch if we show people what the creative process is like (e.g. designing a pattern), how many times we lose the needle or have to figure out what colour changes we’re going to do because we don’t have the floss colour we need. Then there’s the amount of times we may accidentally stab ourselves instead of the fabric and draw blood and the decisions we need to make about our finishes. Then there’s the innovations that go into cross stitch design and how the patterns have changed over time and what’s available to us now. We would be able to have challenges such as time limited shopping sprees and creating a project from those sprees. Alternatively, finishers would be presented with partly completed projects with multiple issues that could hinder or enhance the finish.

Collaborations, exhibitions and back stories

If cross stitchers got together and had an exhibition, what would it look like? Would we have a variety of sections around the room dedicated to samplers, photograph conversions, landscapes, HAED’s, Biscornu’s and similar finishes, subversive and modern designs?

Additionally, what would you want people to know about the pieces you have designed and stitched? Aside from the usual of telling people what materials I’ve used, I want to tell people how long it took me to stitch it and what I love about it. I would want them to know what was going on in my life at the time of me stitching it. By telling people all of these things, my aim would be to find someone who would connect with those pieces and want to buy it and take it home with them because they resonate with it. They relate to what I was going through and love the results of what I’ve done.

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Author:

I am an avid cross stitcher. I was first introduced to cross stitch when I was primary school age. Paused for while during my teens and then took it up again in my early/mid 20's and I haven't looked back. To mitigate the amount of time I'm sitting down stitching, I'm a regular member of the gym and I'm a runner. To keep me motivated, I participate in short to medium length fun runs. Which at times feel torturous, but I feel really good at the end of them! With these activities in mind, this blog is about the combination of my experiences with running and cross stitch and encouraging people to think differently about cross stitch - it's not just Grandma's who do this anymore!

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