Register for 30 Days of Lists

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It’s that time again, time to get ready for the September edition of 30 Days of Lists!! I’m excited to announce that I’m once again a sponsor of 30 Days of Lists!! I get to sponsor the list prompt for September 9th (which also happens to be my son’s 25th birthday!), I have a special coupon code for Listers to use in my Etsy shop after you’ve registered, and I’ll have a French Knot Mini Hoop Hand Embroidered Necklace as a Giveaway!

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But, wait! That’s not all!! If you register BEFORE September 1st, you will get  Alexandra Rae Design’s digital scrapbooking kit that was created exclusively for 30 Days of Lists!! I’ve already used some of the elements, and, let me tell you, it’s pretty fabulous.

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And even more…you’ll have access to the private Facebook Group just for September #30Lists participants. You’ll also receive a printable download with ALL of September’s list topics (for those of you who want the topics ahead of time – like me).

Click any of the pictures* in this post to be taken to the registration page. 30 Days of Lists is explained in even more detail there. I’ve been a Lister since March 2012, and it’s a great experience. Through the lists, I’ve been able to learn things about myself I may have taken for granted, or not thought too hard about. Each day’s prompt is a good way to take a few moments for yourself and get creative.

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*Affiliate link

Backside of the Hoop with Jason Vanfosson

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Backside of the Hoop is a monthly feature by Random Acts of Amy It’s here! The first installment of a new monthly feature on Random Acts of Amy, Backside of the Hoop, is finally here!

Have you ever wondered what the backside of an embroidery artist’s hoop looks like? Or what their behind the scenes process looks like? Me, too! As an embroidery artist, I’m intrigued by how other artists finish their hoops, what their creative process is, and what their behind the scenes space looks like. I decided to put together this monthly feature to showcase the different embroidery, cross stitch, and other needle artists out there so we could all learn more about the backsides of their hoops!

Today I’m so excited to introduce to you Jason Vanfosson of Hand Jobs Embroidery! I met Jason on Instagram, and we quickly formed a mutual admiration society of each other’s embroidery. We then became Facebook friends, and the rest is history. Read below for my interview with Jason.


Tell us about yourself and your shop.
I’m an embroidery artist living in Kalamazoo, Michigan where I am also working on my PhD in literature. In November of 2013 I started Hand Jobs Embroidery, an online shop that specializes in sexy and studious stitches.

Website: http://www.handjobsembroidery.com

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/handjobs

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/handjobsembroidery

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/jasonvanfosson

Picture of Jason Vanfosson of Hand Jobs Embroidery

Photo by Loralee Simpson.

Butts by Hand Job Embroidery Dr. Seuss signature by Hand Jobs Embroidery Beefcake Pillow created by Hand Jobs EmbroideryWhen did you start doing embroidery?
I flirted with embroidery back in the day when I was a young’un. My mom cross stitched on a stamped table runner that she bought in a set with four napkins. I stole one of the napkins and begged her to teach me to cross stitch. It was too tedious. After two days I gave up. I didn’t pick up the needle and hoop again until I was in graduate school.

I started with counted cross stitch and then quickly jumped to freehand embroidery. I was in my first semester of graduate school and I was stressed. I am a type-A-crazy-obsessive-anxiety-prone-neurotic freak sometimes (okay, all of the time). I read that repetitive activities like sewing and knitting could relieve stress, so I had some fabric and floss lying around and just tried stitching things. It was a disaster. I attempted to embroider a whale. It was an epic whale fail. The next day, I watched some YouTube videos, ordered a beginner’s kit from Sublime Stitching and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been stitching ever since.

While I was waiting for my embroidery kit to arrive, I decided I’d try to do some stitching anyway. I later found out I picked the more difficult route and used black fabric. This is something I frequently do. I like to do hard things without realizing there is an easier way. I tore apart an old pillowcase and stitched this muscley-dude with antlers coming out of his head. I don’t know what I was thinking. Technically, this was my second piece, but it was the first that looked kind of like something.  The epic whale fail embroidery was sacrificed to the landfill gods.

Black and White embroidery of a muscle manCross stitch of Batman and Robin kissingEmbroidered pillow cases that say Bottom Bitch and Power TopWhere is your favorite place to embroider?
This is a fantastic question that no one has ever asked me. While I enjoy stitching outside and at coffee shops, I’m going to be honest and say I love stitching in front of Netflix. I watch television a lot while stitching and sometimes get inspiration from there. Right now, I’m obsessed with Scandal starring Kerry Washington. Everyone is getting “What did you do,” “It’s handled,” “I wear the white hat,” and “Gladiators in suits,” embroidery hoops for Christmas this year.

I do most of my stitching in my apartment because I am a total 90-year-old homebody on the inside. I have my work chair where I do reading and grading, and now I do my embroidery there, too. I keep my iPad nearby with my Netflix queue at the ready. Of course, I usually have something stitching in my book bag in case I get stuck waiting for someone or need a stitch break when I’m out and about running errands.

Jason Vanfosson of Hand Jobs Embroidery: Favorite place to stitch

Show us your backside…of you hoop!
When I first started embroidering, I knotted everything. Knot-it was my mantra. Starting a new piece of floss? Knot it! Ending a piece of floss? Knot it! Floss too long? Knot it! Not paying attention to my stitching? Knot it! Now, I don’t use any knots on the backside of my embroidery. When I was a young and drunk stitcher, my backsides looked like a hot mess of tangled and confused spaghetti. I think I have improved them so they are presentable and functional. In fact, my backside has become just as interesting to me as the front side.

Batman and Robin Backside Golden Showers Backside

What is your favorite part of the embroidery process? Your least favorite part?
I really enjoy all the different parts of the embroidery process. From the conception to the final touches and display, it’s all fun. My favorite part, though, is when I’m almost halfway through a project and I can see it the way that I saw it in my mind. There’s this moment when I can see the finished product, and that gets me all excited and leads to non-stop stitching marathons where I stitch the rest of the project in one sitting.

My least favorite, though, is the finishing of a project. I don’t quite dislike it. I would just rather be stitching than framing or mounting a piece of embroidery. It is satisfying when I’m done, but it is also the most tedious part for me.

What are your top three favorite stitches?
1. Backstitch 2. Herringbone 3. Chain stitch

What is your favorite brand of floss? How do you organize your floss?
I use DMC floss because I embroider and cross stitch. Most cross stitching patterns use the DMC floss code, so I have always used that. Though, I have been hearing great things about Jenny Hart’s Sublime Floss. I want to try that soon. 

I use clothespins to store my floss. It is not the most effective organizational method, but it does make for a nice piece of functional art on my coffee table. I roll the floss around clothespins, stamp the DMC number on the pin, and then throw it all in the bowl. If I’m looking for a particular number or color though, I usually have to pull all of them out and go searching for the right color. That can be frustrating, but aesthetics always wins over practicality for me.

JV Floss Storage

Do you create your own patterns, or purchase patterns from other artists? If you purchase patterns, what are your favorite places to get them?
I do both. I design most of my patterns now. When I first got into embroidery, though, I bought many patterns. Sublime Stitching has some spectacular patterns, especially the ones that are in collaboration with artists. I have bought a lot of beautiful patterns on Etsy from independent artists as well. Overall, though, I have had to design my own because there are not a lot of patterns out there of what I want to stitch. Many of them are too cute for me. I don’t like cute. Flowers and animals aren’t my thing. And don’t get me started on the inanimate objects—like teacups, pastries, and kitchen supplies—with eyes, legs, and arms. Those creep me out.

What’s up next for you?
I’ve really backed off on my Etsy shop and business because I am super excited about my big embroidery-as-art project that I am working on. It’s called The Hanky Sampler. Let me explain. Before gay men could really be open out about their sexuality, there was a gay handkerchief code that only gay guys knew about. Some historians think this goes back to the 19th century, but it really got a lot of traction in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Basically, guys would use different color handkerchiefs at different places on their body to indicate what they were looking for. So for example, if a guy were into giving golden showers (and looking for someone to do that with), he would put a yellow handkerchief (the golden shower handkerchief) in his back right pocket. He’d spend the night looking for a guy who had a yellow handkerchief in his back left pocket. Then, they’d go do that. In my project, I am trying to create an awareness of this part of gay history by embroidering on the handkerchiefs. I like the idea of taking something that is viewed by a lot of people as a domestic, conservative medium and mixing it with more risqué topics that meaningfully contribute something to gay history and culture.

Golden Showers Bandana Embroidery Yellow bandana golden showers detail

Golden Showers

 

Thank you, Jason, for being my first interviewee for Backside of the Hoop! Your stitches are so neat and tidy – the backsides of my hoops are not as pleasing to look at!  I love your work, it is so very clever. As a Librarian, I especially adore your line of embroidered author autographs. I can tell you think about the author’s personality, and match the best fabric pairing to it. I am so intrigued by The Hanky Sampler project, and I cannot wait to see what comes next!

You can see more of Jason’s embroidery here in this photo gallery on Flickr.


 

Would you or someone you know like to be interviewed for Backside of the Hoop? Just fill out the contact form below, and you could be selected for Backside of the Hoop!

Backside of the Hoop

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Backside of the Hoop is a monthly feature by Random Acts of Amy

Have you ever wondered what the backside of an embroidery artist’s hoop looks like? Or what their behind the scenes process looks like? Me, too! As an embroidery artist, I’m intrigued by how other artists finish their hoops, what their creative process is, and what their behind the scenes space looks like. I decided to put together this monthly feature to showcase the different embroidery, cross stitch, and other needle artists out there so we could all learn more about the backsides of their hoops! Stay tuned!

If you would like to be featured on Backside of the Hoop, please fill out the form below.

Happy Stitching!

Painted Furniture: Sewing Cabinet

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Todd and I have gotten really into painted furniture lately. We’ve bought a few beat up pieces, been gifted a couple from our neighbors who are moving, and inherited other pieces from relatives. This sewing cabinet used to be Todd’s Grandma’s. We’ve had it for a few years, and it sits in our foyer landing. As you can see from the before pictures, it was really beat up, and that’s a part of the charm of it, for us. Much of the wood veneer on the legs was missing, and there were a lot of scratches and gouges everywhere.

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