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Ontario-based artist Ursula Thomson, aka Thread Wizard, is a tattooed wonder with an embroidery needle. Her vintage-inspired designs bring back the nostalgia of old seafaring ink, and are perfectly suited to the alternative embroidery stylings of Urban Threads. She talks with us today about her background and how a love of tattooing eventually evolved into a whole new craft.

Ursula Thomson created this vintage-inspired tattoo skull design, perfect for stitching like a scallywag or hoisting up a flag. Grab it in machine embroidery and hand embroidery formats, and be sure to check out her own hand stitched version below for inspiration!

Tell us a bit about your background -- what led you into art and embroidery?

I have always been interested in textiles and crafting, even as a child. I can remember trying embroidery when I was about 8 years old and finding it too tedious a task for me. Now that I’m all grown up I find that tediousness has turned into more of a meditation and relaxation.

About 8 years ago I went to college for fashion design. I quickly realized that although I love to sew and make clothes, I didn’t want to pursue a career in the field. Shortly after that I was looking for a small gift for a tattoo artist and all of a sudden it hit me, I could embroider the design he had tattooed on me. That was a life changing moment for me, and I haven’t stopped since. Over the next couple years I’m hoping to be able to build up my Etsy shop and start working on a brick and mortar store of my very own.

Tell us a bit about your design and the project behind it.

This design is based on some vintage tattoo flash. I’ve always liked goofy looking skulls and skulls in general so when I saw the original drawing for this one I knew I had to make my own version.

What inspires your designs?

My designs are inspired by the things I see in my daily life, tattoos, antiques, fabric, art. I am especially interested in tattoo imagery from the 1900s-1970s; most of the tattoo embroideries I do are based on things from that time. I also find a lot of inspiration from the fabric and threads -- sometimes I’ll see a certain colour and know I have to use it in something. I also do machine sewing and make clothing and accessories so I take a lot of inspiration from city street fashion. Basically, I like to sit back and take it all in. You never know what will turn into your next project.

What’s your studio/workspace like?

My workspace has been described as looking like a tattoo studio. There’s artwork and vintage things covering every inch of wall space. I have lights all over the place so that I can sit anywhere in the room and still work. There’s sewing machines, books, fabric and all kinds of craft making things everywhere. My studio is in my home and also doubles as my dressing room and doggy suite. So needless to say I spend a lot of the day there. I’ve even got an en suite bathroom, so I really don’t have to leave! I like having it in my home because I can work whenever the inspiration strikes, whether it be 5pm or 5am, it’s there waiting for me.

Finally, if you were a thread color, what color would you be?

This is a hard question. I guess I’d have to say black because like me it is versatile. I think I’ve used black in almost every embroidery I’ve done, ever. Plus most of my wardrobe is black!


If you’d like to check out more of Ursula’s work and keep up on her life and art, you can check out her blog at www.thread-wizard.com or if you want to buy some of her hardcore stitchery, you can check out her Etsy store.

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