Cheryl Fall Artist Interview
Q: Where do you live? Does this affect your work?
A: I live in Southwest Washington, just over the river from Portland, Oregon in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge area. From my upper windows I have a view of the trees and mountains in the area, and I can’t help but be inspired. There’s nothing nicer than staring out at the scenery while having a piece of needlework in my hands.
Q: How did you begin to embroider?
A: My mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers (I knew 2 great grandmothers) were all accomplished needleworkers, so I learned at a very young age. I started with cross stitch after my mother gave me little metal cookie tin filled with bits of floss and DMC pearl cotton balls. There were some unfinished items in there, so I ended up finishing them. Our course they looked horrible, but I was about 6 and considered it a great accomplishment at the time. I’d open up the lid, and everything inside smelled of metal, but I loved the colors! Thread became my paint and crayons.
Q: Are you self taught or formally trained? Do you think this affects your practice? If so how?
A: All of the above. I learned surface embroidery from my Canadian great-grandmother. I still have two bedspreads she made for me, as well as a few dozen pillowcases and runners. She made them for everyone in the family, but somehow they have all worked their way to my collection. I learned fine embroidery from my mother’s aunts – her side is from Spain. They embroidered professionally, and their stitching was nothing short of perfection. Pieces by these women are the most treasured in my collection.
Q: How does the practice of embroidery affect the conceptual aspect of your work?
A: I would say that this has actually changed over the years. When I was a young mother, I was already active professionally in the embroidery community, and the demands of my work meant that everything I created needed to be done quickly. Deadlines were looming, and they needed to get done! Now that my children are grown and married, I can relax, design and choose my projects carefully, take my time, and create more advanced or involved pieces.
Q: Describe your studio and studio practice.
A: My studio can be described more as storage than a workspace. Sure, it’s full of cabinetry and supplies, a countertop work area, etc., but I am rarely in it. I stitch wherever I’m at during any given session, which is quite often while travelling with my husband. I’ve made a lot of new friends stitching at airports here in the US and around the world. Needlework really is a universal language, and working on a project in public always seems to attract other needleworkers, who want to see what I’m working on. We don’t speak the same language, but the language of needlework speaks for itself. There’s always a zippered bag of needlework in my handbag, ready to stitch.
Q: You have written a number of needlework books, please talk about this process a little.
A: There have been 12 so far. Every book begins with an inspiration. Sometimes it’s a single project I have designed and stitched that I enjoyed so much, that I want to do more. More often, however, it’s what’s popular in the market the drives the process. That’s why the first 6 books were all quilting books – it was more popular in the 1980’s than needlework. Needlework made its resurgence, so I started doing embroidery books. Everything cycles.
Q: How has your work evolved since you first began working with needlework?
A: My designs are constantly evolving, based on what inspired me, new DMC threads that come out, the current popular themes or colors, or what I find interesting at any given time.
Q: Is there a theme in your work? If so can you talk about what draws you to these themes both conceptually and visually?
A: There’s no theme – I enjoy every type of needlework. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be French-style cross stitch and embroidery, using just one or two colors of thread – especially red. I love the simplicity, and these types of projects are easy to tote on trips. I’ve been developing a lot of these monochromatic patterns lately, and love stitching them.
Q: What is the next direction or step for your work?
A: After taking a break from book writing for the past 10 years, it was time to write another one. I have a general embroidery book, featuring an assortment of embroidery styles, that was released in January of 2013, and am currently working on a multi-technique sampler book.
Q: What else do you spend your time doing? hobbies? jobs? activities?
Do any of these inform your work?
A: I’m an EGA “Life Member” as well as a member of ANG, and I love to stitch and collect anything made with a needle and thread. I have an extensive collection of needlework from around the world that I maintain. I also love to cook, collect and sample wine. My husband and I also became grandparents recently to two beautiful babies, so this is a really exciting time for us!
Q: Where can we see your work? links, websites, galleries, shops, etc.
A: In addition to creating projects for DMC, I have also been the Needlepoint Guide and Embroidery Guide for About.com. There’s always an ongoing project in my hands, and many of them are featured on DMC's Emma Broidery blog!
Some examples of Cheryl's Work
Vintage Pumpkin Pattern 2009 Hummingbird Embroidery Design 2010
Both designs use DMC Satin Floss