Hi, I hope you have all had a really good weekend, mine was very enjoyable.
I thought I would start the week off with a featured crafter as I haven’t done one for over a week and this is one I particularly like.
I always enjoy reading all the Featured crafter articles, some have made me cry, some have made me chuckle, I’ve learned things and many have inspired me. This feature by Louise Tullener is one of those inspirational and very interesting reads which I enjoyed reading and I love her work, I hope you enjoy it too?
Tell us a bit about your background and your business?
My business name is extremely unimaginative – I may be able to create beautiful embroidered works of art and pewter repousse but I’m absolutely useless at naming things. I always use LouiseT as a username. When I wanted to register for something one day LouiseT was taken so the next best thing I could come up with was LouTul, my name being Louise Tullener, doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination as to where LouTul came from. At one stage I was thinking of having a competition on my blog to get a decent name for my shop but never got round to it. Its pretty difficult coming up with a descriptive name for two such totally different mediums, ie embroidery and pewter repousse.
I am a South African by birth and relocated to the UK a year ago with my English husband. My son lives in Birmingham and has done so for the last 12 years. He is married and has a family. As my daughter and her family emigrated to Australia there was nothing left for us in South Africa so we decided to move here. We’ve bought our own home in Redditch, Worcestershire. Hopefully my last move ever !
Tell us about what you make and what training and qualifications you have or needed?
I have two distinct lines I work in – one is embroidery and the other pewter repousse. I only started these two crafts about 3 years ago when my cousin introduced me to these art forms. I immediately fell in love with both. They are very therapeutic and relax me totally after a heavy work day. I am a business analyst by profession.
I’ll go into a bit of detail about the individual crafts as they are so very different
This is very different to the traditional embroidery that we all know. Instead of starting with a blank piece of fabric and embroidering the entire design, we start off with a pre-printed image. This can be just about anything your imagination will allow. I’ve done portraits, still life, landscapes etc. Now the exciting part starts, you decide which areas you want to highlight. You can do this with sewing using various kinds of thread and or ribbon. Embellishments are added, for example I’ve used little fish buttons for fish in water, miniature teddy bears, hats, birds anything that the picture calls for. This is a 3-dimensional multi-media form and is very eye-catching. I haven’t had any formal embroidery training but did attend classes at an embroidery school run by a very talented and successful embroiderer for probably 6 to 8 months prior to leaving South Africa for the United Kingdom.
Another art form which is relatively unknown in the UK although it has undergone a major revival in South Africa and Australia. Pewter Repousse is the creation of 3 dimensional designs by embossing, raising or engraving thin sheets of pewter metal. The image is then filled from the back to prevent denting, “aged” with a patina and finally polished to a rich antique-looking silver. What you can make with pewter is virtually endless – the only thing limiting you is your imagination. I have made framed sculptures, candle sleeves, decorative bottles, plaques, to mention a few. There are several academies and craft clubs in South Africa and I attended these craft clubs bi-monthly for about a year before relocating to the United Kingdom. I now teach pewter repousse to members of the Redditch Craft Club in Redditch.
Where do you sell/exhibit your work?
I have only been in the UK for 1 year now and am still trying to find my feet. I would love to exhibit my embroidered artwork in a gallery or craft studio as I think they are rather difficult to sell on-line as you don’t get the full effect of the 3-D or the workmanship. Prior to relocating to the UK I never thought about selling my artwork – I made them primarily for the love of the craft. I had a huge home and had plenty places to display them. I also did a lot for my children and other family members. At the moment I sell my work through my Folksy and Etsy shops and in a gallery in Worcester.
My immediate goal is to locate appropriate galleries and/or craft centres where I can exhibit and sell my embroidered artwork. The pewter repousse is an easier product to sell on-line as it is not as intricate as the embroidery. As with my embroidery I sell through Folksy, Etsy and the Worcester gallery. I would like to continue selling through the on-line stores but would also like to sell through selective craft shops and/or galleries.
As with most crafters/artisans I find it incredibly difficult to sell myself. I recently joined the Redditch Craft Club and one of the ladies is doing a bang-up job on promoting my items! We went shopping for bottles to be pewtered and no trouble to her, decided to approach the store owners with the view of displaying my pewter embossed bottles in their store. They are an up-market farm stall who has a section for crafted items. Well now it’s up to me – when the responsible person returns from vacation in a week’s time I will be contacting her to show her my products.
Tell us about some of your favourite or most challenging pieces and what inspired you to make them?
Choosing a favourite piece is rather difficult I’m afraid because each one is a favourite in its own right. I’ll do the embroidery items first.
Marion – Portrait of a beautiful lady.
This definitely numbers as one of my favourites. I fell in love with the photo of this lady the minute I saw it and just knew that I had to embroider her. It was one of those “moments” where I knew immediately how I was going to do her and everything went so smoothly from printing time right through to framing time. It took me a long time to decide to put her up for sale. My embroidered work is all one-of-a-kind and I do not intend redoing any one design so when she’s sold she’s gone. I’m not too sure how I’ll feel when she does go – very happy that someone likes her enough to buy her but also sad to see her go.
Another favourite is the drawing room.
This is truly a multi-media piece. Again the image is pre-printed onto the fabric. This one was far more challenging because of the scene. There is wooden flooring, a beautiful wooden sideboard, lacy curtains, a screen and a number of other challenging items to test your creative skills. I chose this one because it’s a beautiful scene and I wanted to test my abilities. I never tire of looking at it – there is so much going on in this picture that you cannot get bored with it. I mentioned earlier about the embellishments I use to create the 3-dimensional aspect. Well, this picture has it all – a miniature teddy bear sticking out the drawer, miniature hats on the floor, real velvet on the chair, the teapot and cup, the newspaper and reading spectacles on the table. The lead crystal lamp on the table has been done in a metallic thread and has resulted in a lamp that is so realistic. Each flower on the screen has been embroidered by hand (all the embroidery is by hand – no machine embroidery at all) with a very fine silk thread. The patchwork blanket hanging out the drawer was done with a very fine rayon thread and all the crockery in the cupboard was done with metallic thread to give a bit of glamour to the cupboard. Silk ribbon flowers and leaves finish off the scene.
My favourite pewter item has to be this owl for no other reason than I love Owls. They are fascinating birds. In the village we lived in in South Africa had an owl sanctuary. The owls were not kept in captivity but remained within the village. Our home bordered on a nature reserve and the owls always sat on our balcony watching out for field mice. They would swoop down into the garden to catch whatever they saw and many a time our dogs were outside and we were always amazed that the owls and the dogs seemed to get on pretty well.
Where do you find your creative inspiration?
I get my inspiration from everything around me really. I’m always looking at things with a view to either embroidering or pewtering them. I think if something stands still for long enough I’d probably want to pewter it. A pretty picture could be a portrait, a landscape, a still life anything immediately triggers the desire to embroider it. As a matter of fact a fellow on-line seller who is a photographer listed a particularly lovely photo which he sent me electronically. I have since printed it onto fabric and am currently busy embroidering it. Can’t show you yet (lol) as I promised him he would be the first one to see it!
What motivates you?
The answer to this is strangely enough what inspires me – a pretty picture is enough to get me embroidering. Besides I hate sitting idle – I find it such a waste of time. There are so many things on my list that I still want to pewter and embroider that all I have to do is open one of the cupboards in my craft room and there’s something in there begging to come out.
What piece of equipment could you not live without or which is your favourite and why?
This is a hugely difficult question to answer because of there being the two main lines so I guess I’ll have to select something that applies to both which is my computer setup. Without that I wouldn’t be able to set out my embroidery pictures nor do many of my pewter designs. I can’t draw at all so I need my drawing tools!
What are your goals/plans for the future?
My goals for the future are to sell my embroidered art work through successful galleries in the UK and to make bespoke one of a kind pictures for private customers either through the galleries or on-line. I intend opening my own on-line store during the next month or two where I will offer OOAK embroidered art pieces and exclusive pewter repousse.
When you first started if you could have been given one piece of advice what would it have been and what advice would you pass on?
Start young, learn as much as you can from experts in your field and absorb whatever you can learn and most important of all – practice and don’t give up on yourself.
Where can we find you? (Contact details etc)
I work from home which is at 50 Caynham Close, Winyates West, Redditch, Worcestershire B98 0JF United Kingdom.
You can find me at my Etsy Shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/Loutul, my Folksy shop http://folksy.com/shops/Loutul, My Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Loutul/187570711350803 and my blog http://loutul.wordpress.com/