Morus Monthly: Embroidered Pet Portraits by Emillie Ferris
Last month we introduced one of our most valued members of the team, Morus the Corgi. Over the years, he's become somewhat of a Freds celebrity. Not only do customers want to meet him, but artists want to interpret him. So much so that he's developed a fan-art gallery wall in his crate space. In this new blog series, we're going to meet the artists that have captured Morus. We will share the products they use and provide a little insight into their design process.
First up, we're chatting to embroidery extraordinaire, Emillie Ferris. With a speciality in pet portrait commissions, we asked Emillie to capture Morus last year. Her work is so life-like, with such a close attention to detail. We wanted to learn more about Emillie's approach and share with you our precious portrait of Morus.
Why pets? How did your pet commissions come about?
I had left university and was looking for graphic design/photographer positions in digital agencies, I was a bit lost in terms of the direction of my life and had been embroidering the past two years for fun. I didn’t realise I could make a living from doing something I felt so passionate about until I received an email from a LOVELY customer requesting me to embroider two pet portraits. As soon as I posted a photo of the completed hoops on my Instagram, everyone went crazy for them and my inbox was filling up with requests! Yay!!!
We love the Morus portrait! How long does it take to complete each piece?
The time can vary greatly for each embroidered piece! The size of the hoop doesn’t always reflect the time that has gone into it, and I think it is important to value my art or anyone else’s based on skills alone, rather than the time it takes to complete it, which I have to remind myself on a daily basis!
I listen to audiobooks whilst I embroider so this means I can accurately keep track of how many hours one hoop takes, it also helps me give customers an idea of when their custom hoop will be completed, plus I love a good fantasy story! 5” pet portraits can take anything from 18-25 hours to complete. It really varies depending on how many colour changes are needed, the detail that is in the reference photograph and the breed of the dog or cat. Each 5” hoop can take 5-10 days as due to eye strain/hand strain, I can’t really do a normal work day as other people might do, though I wish I could as it is so addictive and therapeutic and I like to be as productive as possible!
Embroidery is an art form that I find impossible to rush. Which is just one of the reasons why I am so passionate about it.
Where do you like to work?
The MOST important factor for me is being comfortable, I spend a lot of time sitting down for long periods so I like to sit in a comfortable chair or sofa with good support. I’m not one to suffer from back problems but I’m aware it could become an issue in the future! I even use a neck cushion sometimes, haha!
I’d love to have my own studio where I could work away from a home environment but for now I am happy embroidering in the living room.
What are your favourite Fred Aldous products to work with?
I love the variety of products that are in the embroidery and tapestry section at Fred Aldous. If I’m ever in the Manchester area this will be one of the first places I would visit. It is doing exactly what I want from a craft shop….reminding people that arts and crafts can be cool and contemporary! In an age where everything is digital, I love that there are shops out there like Fred Aldous encouraging others to make stuff with their hands!
You use DMC thread to embroider your work. Is there any reason you choose this over the other threads available?
I love DMC thread! The range of colours they have to choose from is so vast and the quality and sheen of the floss is beautiful. I wouldn’t want to embroider with anything else!
I have nearly all of the DMC natural colours engrained in my head. I can see a skein and know what colour it is straight away without having to look at the number. It makes it that bit easier and quicker when i’m looking at a reference photo, as I can look at one part of the pet and go, yes, this nose is going to need, 3799, 310, 645 and 648.
For anyone who hasn’t embroidered before, have you got any words of advice on where to start?
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now. I would say don’t hesitate and just go for it! Once you start embroidering you will only wonder why you didn’t start earlier. The materials are inexpensive and easy to get a hold of.
I’d start with a subject matter you are truly interested in, whether that be nature, films, quotes or anything else! Be inspired by others but remember to be your truest authentic self and don’t directly copy others artwork. If you are worried about the technicalities I have a digital PDF tutorial you can download in my Etsy store which explains all of the materials you need, the stitches I use and plenty more tips and tricks. It also takes the pressure away of designing the embroidery itself, especially if you don’t think you’re up to that yet! Good luck, and above all, enjoy yourself, express yourself and have fun with it!
What other arts and crafts do you like to do in your spare time and how does this inspire your embroidery?
I would say that embroidery is the only ‘arts and crafts’ I am currently doing, but I would love to try macrame, weaving, rug hooking and pottery. My other artistic hobbies are a little more digital such as graphic design and photography. I have been passionate about photography for nearly twelve years now and I’d say it has influenced me greatly in terms of composition and knowing what colours look good where. I love the editing side as well, and won’t usually pass up the chance to edit the colours and lighting of my photos in photoshop!
Keep an eye on the Emillie Ferris website and Etsy page for her next callout for commissions.
If you're an artist that uses Fred Aldous products and would like to capture Mo for our next Morus Monthly, get in touch.