We caught up with Amanda Loverseed at Bothy Threads to find out a bit more about her and talk about her wonderfully unique Cut Thru collection, which we have fallen in love with.
So firstly, can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am a full time illustrator and I am happy to say I have never done any other job since leaving Art College in Cambridge 28 years ago. My first interest was a love of story and I wrote and illustrated children’s books. I now do a wide variety of illustration work, including recently designing an Advent Calendar of Buckingham Place for The Royal Collection. I am lucky to work from home, deep in the countryside, where I live with my lovely husband and two cats.
Your designs for the Cut Thru series are just amazing! They are so original and different to anything else we have seen. How did you come about the idea?
Thank you for the kind comments. The Cut Thru pictures came about through a desire to tell a story with pictures. I really hope all the details I include in the pictures will draw the onlooker into the world I have created. One of the first Cut Thru’s I painted was the Lighthouse. I wanted to draw the outside of the building, with all the fun of the lights and striped walls. But I also wanted to show what was going on inside and who might live there, such as a mermaid in the bath. It was a quick decision to combine the two thoughts.
The Cut Thru’s started life as pictures for greeting cards and it was clever Kate Hoyle at Bothy Threads who spotted the potential to transform the pictures into cross stitch.
Things in my life or things that interest me inspire some of the pictures. The Gypsy Wagon is based on one we owned when I was a child. I love small homes like narrow boats and tents. If I see a quirky building I try and remember how it looks. I have surprised lots of owners of vintage vehicles by asking to see what an engine looks like or how something is constructed. I have no technical knowledge, which allows me the freedom to imagine how a steam engine might work, or a car is put together. I did once spend an entire afternoon being shown around a windmill, having asked how it worked and explaining it was for a drawing. I had so much information I could have done technical plans rather than a wobbly drawing with mice running around the wheels.
There are quite a lot of kits in the series, which is fab. Was it a long process to come up with all the designs or was it something that just flowed naturally and you had to cut down your ideas?
I have been drawing the Cut Thrus for quite a few years now and yes there are a lot in the series. The ideas flow very naturally and I have so many ideas for new pictures I could just spend all my time painting Cut Thrus. I love drawing the Cut Thru pictures and find them fun to paint. But I have to balance that with the needs of my other illustration work. There are lots of new kits Kate and I are working on for Bothy Threads with new designs due to come out later this year.
Your readers might like to know that I always put snails into my picture, a bit like a hidden signature.
Have you made them all?
Sssh! Don’t tell anyone but I cannot sew! So I have not made any of the Cut Thrus up in cross stitch! I am so lucky to work collaboratively with Kate at Bothy Threads. She changes my illustrations into cross stitch diagrams and we tweak the details, colour choices etc. together. Then one of her clever team stitch the picture to make sure it all works in thread before the kit is launched for the public to enjoy. The illustration process is the reverse of stitching a picture. I start with a very rough pencil drawing and then work in black line using ink and a dip pen. When all the line work is finished I then add the colour with watercolours, inks and pens. I am always amazed that the stitched versions work in reverse, with people doing the entire colour and then over stitching the black line. This is the stage that brings the stitched picture alive.
I would find that an impossible choice! I do love the look of the Cut Thru Rocket on the blue background but I understand that is a difficult one to stitch. I do love hearing which designs other people like and knowing that they are stitched by people all over the world. I have a Facebook work page, Amanda Loverseed Illustration and I find it really inspiring when people are kind enough to share pictures of their finished projects and the stories of why they are stitching them.
And finally, do you have any tips for cross stitchers, whether it be about designing your own patterns or sitting down to complete a kit?
I think for cross stitchers patience to keep going and complete a design is important. It can take a long time to paint a picture and sometimes things go more smoothly than at other. That is the same with sewing. It is a wonderful feeling to complete a picture in paint or in thread. If anyone is creating their own designs they should have faith in their own vision to create something unique.