Inspirational Interview : Tracy A. Franklin

Our very first interview in the series Inspirational Interviews is with Tracy A. Franklin. I had the wonderful good fortune to spend some time in her studio with her in October 2010. You can read about it here, in a post aptly titled “Fowlers Yard & Tracy Franklin – Inspirational”.

Tracy A. Franklin is a freelance specialist embroiderer working in her studio in Fowlers Yard, Durham City where she teaches and works on commissions.

Originally trained at the Royal School of Needlework in 1991, she  continued to work at the RSN for a further seven years as a teacher and in the RSN Studio before becoming Apprentice Coordinator in 1997. Since leaving the RSN in 2001, Tracy has written two books, New Ideas in Goldwork  and Contemporary Whitework which she co-authored with Nicola Jarvis.  Her third book Crewel Work is now available and is self- published. You can read my review of Crewelwork here.

She designs and works to commission, sells and exhibits her own work which uses hand stitch techniques both traditionally and with contemporary styles. These include gold work, silk shading, and white work.

Tracy is Head Broderer for Durham Cathedral and runs a City & Guilds programme and the RSN Certificate and Diploma Courses from her studio in Durham City. Tracy’s teaching includes classes, courses and workshops taught to groups and individuals of various levels. Courses include the Royal School of Needlework Certificate Course and City & Guilds Design and Embroidery (up to diploma level) with Julia Triston ­ through the independent City & Guilds centre.

1. Do you have a favorite kind of needlework? If so, which kind and why?

I like most types of needlework, and feel I can adapt to whatever I am enjoying at any one time. At present, I enjoy mixing techniques and methods, using contemporary ideas, with traditional good technique. I am into couching – including gold threads, but other things too.

2. What motivated you to create your very first design? Looking back, do you think it was a successful design? If so, why? If not, why not?

I always create my own designs (rarely copy), and they are naturally influenced by whatever I am drawn towards or attracted to at the time. As I have grown as an artist, designer and embroiderer – I feel quite confident with most things I produce and I nearly always have a technique in mind when I am designing.

3. What has been your most unusual source of inspiration?

What I would call unusual, may not be unusual to others, and vice versa, as I mainly like classical design with a quirky twist perhaps. I always try and push my own boundaries, and try to be open minded. So lately, I have tried working with bright girly pink, but, I put my own stamp on it, and toned it to my satisfaction.  I am fascinated by recycling, mixed media and using unusual threads and materials to produce something with traditional technique applied to it – turning contemporary on its head.

4. What’s your favorite kind of thread to work with and what qualities does it have that makes it your favorite?

Not easy to pick one, but I prefer well produced good quality threads. They make such a difference to the quality of work. I really enjoy working with ‘passing’ thread, which is a metal thread for gold embroidery. I also love fine linen and wool threads.

5. When it comes to choosing a color palette for a design, what guides your choices?

The design guides my choices normally, but sometimes, the colour is the design.  I am very particular about colour and its tones and tints, trying to match the right colour to complement the others within the design.

6. Tell us about your process of choosing stitches. Do you choose your stitches and then never change them or do you adapt as you work the design?

Normally the brief is the technique which sets the stitches or techniques I would use.  I always trial stitches, and I do change them if I feel they are not working within an area of a design. Sometimes I adapt an idea or the design altogether to make stitches or techniques work.

7. Do you produce your design by hand or digitally? Use a computer or draw or a combination of both?

I may source ideas from the computer, otherwise I always draw and design by hand as it more natural for me and I have more of a feeling for it.  I never use the computer for design, as it is not organic and natural enough for me.

8. Describe your embroidery studio or space for us. What makes it the perfect place to work? What would you like to change if you could?

My studio space is a dream come true – everything I ever wanted in the city I wanted to be based – Durham in the North East of England.  I am always adapting it, although it has its limitations now.  My studio is ‘packed’ with my stuff, belongings, stock, and findings.  It is mainly wood and white, with a splash of colour.  There are lots of things to look at which attracts visitors.  The only thing I would change is how cold it can be in the winter months, although I now just adapt and cope!

9. Please complete this thought: When I’m stitching I feel…

content, and lost in my world of creativity.  I also feel addicted, and have to tear myself away at times.

10. How does needlework allow you to express your creativity?

As I know it so well, I am happily confident and content that I have something to amuse me for the rest of my life.  I can carry it around with me on my travels, it can be big or small, it does not infringe on anyone else, and it is environmentally friendly and recyclable.

Thank you, Tracy, for granting us a peek into your creative and inspirational world!

If you would like to contact Tracy you can reach her web site by clicking on her logo below or on the same logo which now appears on right side of  The Unbroken Thread home page.


3 thoughts on “Inspirational Interview : Tracy A. Franklin

  1. This was so very interesting to read. I love all of Tracy’s books and hope to take a class or course with her sometime in the future!

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