I’m Designer, Author, and your host for this program, Pat Sloan. This year we challenged each designer to create a block inspired by our ‘Aurifil Color Builders’ collection. I assigned each month a color/city and the Designer can work their magic using either the City, the colors or both! Each designer has their box + matching Kona Cotton Solids from Robert Kaufman in the shades of the thread. I also gave each designer a charcoal linen from Robert Kaufman for them to use if they like.
February is ALL about RED, are you surprised? I knew you would guess that color! The challenge color and Aurifl thread box is named for the City of Pompeii.
I invited artist Kathy Ross of Kathy Ross Art to join us this month to show us how she now paints with Aurfil thread on her canvas of cotton, it’s truly amazing! Most of her art she sells or does commissions. It is fun to follow her at Instagram and facebook to watch as she creates a piece.
I interviewed Kathy about how she change her artist focus to thread. You can listen to it HERE
Missed a month from previous years? CLICK FOR PRIOR DESIGNER interviews
We have a Challenge portion of our Designer of the Month interview. Each month we select one random winner to receive a 3 boxes from our Color Builder series.
All you have to do is making the challenge block that you download below and share it at the link! Details at the end plus last month’s winner!
Let’s get to know Kathy!
Where do you live and what is your favorite spot there?
I live in a village called Tuam, just outside of Galway on the west coast of Ireland. Its a really agricultural area. Our house is at the end of a tiny lane-way and we are surrounded by farms and fields. The west of Ireland is notoriously wild and we do get a lot of wind and rain but I love that. There are so many local beauty spots to explore in Galway, its a very arty, bohemian city full of colour, festivals and fun. The skies are constantly changing and you cannot help but be inspired by the beauty of the landscape.
Do you have any of your early fiber art? What can you remember about doing that piece?
I still have one of my first embroidery projects which I made when I was only 15.
I had a fantastic art teacher when I was growing up who taught me how to hand embroider. I remember she got our class to enter a nationwide art competition. The theme was ‘Electricity for life’ I used the few stitches I knew to make a tapestry of Frankenstein:) I remember cutting up old clothes and sewing electrical cables and fuses in to make up the hair of the hair of the tapestry. It actually ended up winning an award in the competition and was put on show in one of Ireland’s most prestigious galleries in Dublin, The Hugh Lane Gallery.
I have it framed and hanging in my studio now to remind me of where it all started. My 11 year old daughter, Millie has recently started sewing too, so I’m teaching her how to hand embroider now too. although she prefers Quilting, shes currently making a pencil top quilt for her bedroom, its so impressive!
Kathy how has changing to using thread in your art, affected how you approach making??
Using thread has totally changed everything about my work. I’m still relatively new to free motion embroidery. I only started working with thread a couple of years ago. I was an established watercolor artist, but I was really frustrated with the 2 dimensional quality of my work. I started hand sewing into my sketches and then taught myself to free motion embroider after watching another artist do it on Instagram.
I instantly fell in love.
Thread painting is just the coolest thing!! You can achieve minute details and the tactile quality of the work is just divine I love how my wildlife portraits almost come to life under the needle of my machine
Because I use a lot of applique in my work too, I find myself looking at fabrics and other materials in a completely new light. I recently collected a lot of our Non recyclable household plastic waste and sewed it all up to make an ocean for a turtle I had embroidered.
Threads are my most valuable material though. I don,t think I’ll ever have enough colours:) Sometimes I’ll be half way through a portrait and I’ll have to stop because I don’t have the exact right shade for a foxes ear, or a badgers nose. I think I’ll just have to order the entire colour palette from Aurifil to keep me going 🙂
What does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?
My Studio is a converted bedroom in our house. I love it! it gets the most light in the house and faces right onto our garden. I actually extended it last year to include a large storage space for fabrics, and materials for art classes. I teach 7 kids art classes a week so storage was a huge problem up until recently.
Having a home studio allows me to work much more freely around family life.I can work all day while the kids are at school and then put in a couple of hours in the evening again while they’re playing outside or watching a movie.
The only downside to having home studio is that sometimes I don’t know when to leave! My husband, Al, has been known to hide the key to my door during holidays or if I’m ill. I’m a terror for not being able to stop working on something until is finished and so often can be found in my pjs sewing away in the middle of the night 🙂
If I could change one thing in my studio, it would be to make it more organised! I am a very messy artist which was fine when I was working in paint. Now that I’m using fabrics and threads I’ve been actively trying to be tidier. I just ordered a peg board for the wall to hang all my scissors, embroidery hoops and rotary cutters and I’ve also started to label drawers and containers just to so everything has its right place.
What is on your playlist?
I love music, who doesn’t!! I power on my speakers before my sewing machine everyday!
I listen to everything from Folk, to rock, form alternative to Hip, hop! Some of my favourite bands are The National, Beastie boys, Nick cave and the bad seeds, Weezer and Pulp. Spotify is awesome for creating those ‘Made for you Playlists’ I always listen to music when I.m working and so they are great for finding new bands to follow
I love podcasts too. Desert island discs is one of my favorites. The format just never grows old with me. There’s something so soothing about hearing someone tell their life story along with an eclectic playlist.
I also love True crime podcasts! I’ve binged a good few different series recently while out walking so I’m currently looking for something new:)
Are you a Dog or a Cat person?
We actually have 5 pets, but their not cats or dogs! My 6 year old son Luke is obsessed with farming and last year he convinced us to get Four hens. His plan was to sell their eggs to save enough money to buy a cow of his own!! He helped set up their coop etc and we each got to name a hen. Mine is called Pixie, but we also have Tom, Becky and shadow. Unfortunately Luke never bothered with his egg selling business. We get four eggs everyday which we share around among neighbors and friends. The hens are a real part of the family now. They follow me from room to room around the house and perch outside my studio window looking for treats!! Its also on my to do list to make a portrait of them!
We also have a Hamster called ‘Nick in his cage’ named after ‘Nicholas Cage’ obviously:) He’s my daughter Millies, and she carries him around in her Hoodie pocket and cuddles him all day! She adores him 🙂
Favorite Book –
Picking a favorite book!! Wow that’s such a hard choice!! I’m a huge reader! when I’m not making, you’ll usually find me with my head in a book.
I love all the Harry Potter books, as I grew up with them and now my own kids are reading them too. My daughter and I recently flew to London to the Warner brother Harry Potter Studios and that inspired us to read ther books all over again.
Gone with the Wind is another favorite, I’m a sucker for an epic romance, I love Scarlet O haras feisty character and shes has one of my favorite quotes!
‘I can’t think about that now, I’ll think about it tomorrow!’ – its actually quite good advise especially if your felling overwhelmed by something in the studio:)
I’m a big fan of thrillers too, Claire Macintosh, .’I See You’ is one I’ve read a few times and it gets to me every time!
What else is new?
I’m currently working towards an exhibition of my wildlife portraits which will be unveiled as part of the Galway 2020 European Capital of culture Festival.
I began working with a group called Project Baa baa, who commissioned me to make a series of Heritage sheep breed portraits which will be unveiled at their European Congress of Sheep Farming & Associated Traditions Conference in May of this year for the City 2020 celebrations.
Its been a really interesting project to work on as I’ve had to go and meet each individual sheep breeder and really get to know the characteristics of each breed. I will be incorporating shearing from each breed into the work to highlight the versatility of Irish wool in craft and art.
Im also giving a series of applique and free motion embroidery workshops along with talks to different societies and craft shops throughout the country.
Tell us how you used the Pompeii Red for your block
The minute I knew I would be working with the Red Aurifil Could Builders I knew I had to make a poppy. I have a photograph on my notice board in the studio of these giant poppy blooms which I took when we were on holiday in lItaly a few years ago. They were just crying out to be made.
The city itself is gritty, full of energy, and filled with so much beautiful Whilst in Lake garda we rented bikes and cycled for miles between the little villages and vineyards. Everything was so green and lush and then all of a sudden we spotted this bright red field of wild poppies. it was breathtaking! I just loved the contrast in colour between the green of the grass and the vivid red of the flowers.
I wanted to capture the delicate quality of the petals whilst also focus on the depth of colours in the bloom in my block.
Find Videos of Kathy’s thread work at on her Instagram page
Visit Kathy at:
- My website- https://www.kathyrossart.com/
- Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/kathy_ross_art
- Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KathyRossArt/
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/kathyrossart?lang=en
Each year I make the Aurifil blocks in a totally different set of fabrics.
Enter your block BELOW by March 14, 2019 to be in the running to win a SET of 3 Aurifil Color Builder Thread BOXs!
******* JOIN our Aurifil Family *******
EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a block.. that person will receive a special Aurifil thread prize! Winners are all contacted email
random number picker selected Anita J’s block! You’ve been emailed