Meet Jody Rice...
Jody is the very talented lady behind Satsuma Street; a gorgeous shop filled with contemporary cross-stitch patterns. It was the beautiful colour palettes that initially attracted me to the shop and after finding out a little more I wanted to share some behind the scenes info with all of you. Jody was kind enough to answer some questions for us...
How did you get into needlecraft?
I started doing needlecrafts as a little kid, with my grandmother. When I would go to visit her, she always had some kind of craft project going, and she encouraged me to try everything. Then I got serious about sewing in college, when I majored in costume design. I worked as a seamstress for many years, and costuming requires that you learn a little bit of everything to do with textiles and fibre arts. Now when I want to learn a new craft, I usually just pick it up on my own and read as much as I can about it.
What inspires you in your artworks?
I'm very influenced by my favorite artists from the 1950's and 60's, like Mary Blair, Alexander Girard, and Vera Neumann. So I spend a lot of time immersing myself in their work. I collect vintage craft books and magazines, and love browsing through those and marveling at how crazy and fearless some of that craft design was. And color is such a big part of my work, so I collect images from magazines and online that have interesting color combinations I might want to use.
Can you give us an insight into your process of creating your products from start to finish?
Every pattern design starts with a lot of thumbnail sketches, where I work out my ideas for the general composition and scale of the piece. I start choosing a palette pretty early, as color is so important to my style and often inspires a lot of ideas. If it's a city design, there's also a lot of research at that stage, where I gather photos of the landmarks I plan to include. Then I do a pretty detailed sketch of the design at full scale, and I often do that on graph paper since the final image will have to work well in a graph format. Next I translate that sketch into a cross stitch software, where I make the initial chart for stitching and choose the embroidery floss colors that best match my palette. Then I stitch the pattern sample, and as I do that I constantly reconsider my color choices and often have to pull out large sections and restitch them with a new color. Once I'm completely happy with the sample, I go back and edit the chart to reflect the changes before I finally release the pattern and put it in my shop for sale. Depending on the complexity of the design, the whole process can take 3 to 4 weeks.
How do you keep yourself organised?
I'm naturally a very organized person, so I document everything I do and keep to a very strict filing system on my computer. I hate having a lot of random bits of paper so I tend to scan things and keep them on my computer, where it's easier to find them. Keeping myself on schedule is a bit harder for me… I tend to get wrapped up in what I'm doing and suddenly a whole day is gone without my noticing! So lately I'm trying to set timers for myself, I'll allow myself 2 hours to get something done, set a timer on my phone, and then when the timer goes off I have to stop working and evaluate whether I should keep going, or put that work aside and do something else on my list. It's also a good way to prevent myself from pouring too much time into an idea that may not be working.
Do you ever have creative blocks?
Oh man, all the time! The best part about working for myself is that when I'm feeling totally uninspired, I can just take the day off! I'm a big fan of taking long walks, that usually gets my brain going again and I often come up with my best ideas that way. But I also believe in doing something creative every day, no matter what it is. Creativity is like a muscle, you have to keep it limber and warmed up by doing little things all the time, then when you really need to rely on it, it's ready. So even if it's just doodling, or having a side project that's totally unrelated to the work for my shop, I'm doing something creative every day. That's the only way to keep the occasional creative block from becoming a big deal.