Helena Ben-Zenou – Guest Blog

Helena Ben-Zenou will be teaching our Craft Sanctuary guests the wonderful art of Needlepoint Tapestry this May. We wanted to find out all about her and how she started POM POM.

Helena Ben-ZenouHelena tells us more…

Although I started out as an artist and academic, I have always had a love of all things design, textiles, interiors, craft and in particular needlepoint-tapestry, both my grandmother and mother stitched and I was given kits as a child, so it has always been a bit special for me. I began by designing and making my own needlepoint-tapestry projects about 15 years ago, mainly making needlepoint versions of my paintings, which I would work on in the evenings at home just for my own relaxation and enjoyment of the stitching process.

After a while I thought how nice it would be to create some needlepoint cushions for my sofa, but really struggled to find contemporary designs that I liked. After a fruitless search I realised that if I wanted to stitch needlepoint projects which were also interesting to stitch and beautiful contemporary textile designs, I was going to have to design them myself! I also realised there was a really good chance there were lots of people like me, and so the idea of POMPOM Design was born…

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Needlepoint (or tapestry as it is often known in the UK) is considered one of the oldest textile-based crafts. A form of thread embroidery it is worked by stitching yarn through a stiff open-weave mesh-like canvas to create a thick and luxurious textile. Unlike other forms of embroidery it does not embellish a fabric, but through the process of stitching through the canvas grid, the maker creates a completely new textile. The high quality of yarns and wide variety of colours available allows us to create vibrant, detailed and colourful designs that can be made up into cushions/pillows, upholstery, pictures and rugs.

I am very influenced by Modernist design and textiles from the 1920’s through to the 1970’s, and early Modernist avant-garde artists such as Sophie Taeuber Arp and Sonia Delaunay who have both created stunning visual art using needlepoint. I try and imbue our designs with a contemporary take on these Modern styles.

I love that needlepoint is adaptable, offering both contemplative and sociable crafting. We design our kits so that you can concentrate on them totally, think and dream, listen to music, the radio, audio books, or you can chat away as you stitch. You can dip in and out of your project for a long or short time. You can stitch on the train, plane, or the bus, in the garden or park, on the sofa, in bed, in your lunch break, in the evenings or during weekends and holidays. With our often fast-paced culture I also love that it is essentially a very simple and accessible craft that creates extremely long lasting and outstandingly beautiful results.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 08.06.13When I was asked to be part of the Craft Sanctuary weekend, I was really excited to have the opportunity to run a workshop based on our needlepoint-tapestry as part of such a lovely programme and environment. I have loads workshop experience, working with all ages, and in my previous existence was a Director of an undergraduate Fine Art programme. I love teaching, so it is great to be able to bring my love of craft and of teaching together!

Pompom Kits are available via our website pompomdesign.com, Etsy, and London department store Liberty. We also enjoy taking part in specialist fairs, pop-up shops and events that specialise in selling the work of designer-makers.

Helena Ben-Zenou is Founder/Director of contemporary needlepoint kit company POMPOM Design, more information and a range of contemporary kits can be found at pompomdesign.com

There is still time to sign up for our May event, for more info head over to the Craft Sanctuary page or contact the lovely Sheena from customer service on 01684 498031 or email sheena.culley@fwmedia.com

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About Nadine

Nadine dabbles in a wide range crafts. If it's pretty and she wants to make it, she'll learn the technique to do so. She is also never without a cup of tea in her hands.