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Victoria Payne is an artist, publisher, teacher, and self-proclaimed fearless stitcher. She is the creative mind behind the Sinister Stitch Chronicles, and runs the website Freedom of Stitch, a place for mixed media exploration advocating freedom of speech and freedom of expression. She shares with us today one of her designs from her ongoing series of the Sinister Stitch Chronicles and talks a little about what led her into her crafty world.

The mandrake is part of Victoria’s ongoing Sinister Stitch Chronicles and represents one of the 13 ancient poisons featured in her series. You can grab him in machine embroidery and hand embroidery formats.

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

My mom was a painter and quilter, so I grew up with art all around me, and I have always kept sketchbooks -- but I came to stitching late. I’d been in fashion, and published zines, but was searching for my “thing” for a long time.

In about 2004, I was struggling with a project because I couldn’t get the image to look dimensional enough. My husband casually remarked: Why don’t you try embroidery, that’s dimensional, right? My visual language was born right then, and I’ve never looked back!

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

The Mandrake was the first mixed media + stitched piece I did (in about 2005). I’ve always loved botanicals and was looking for something to do on that theme. As I began dreaming ways to showcase my two loves (paint and stitch) I knew a male/botanical hybrid would be perfect. As he “grew,” he led me to creating the exhibit that surrounds him: Sinister Stitch - 13 ancient poisons in mixed media embroidery, which of course led me to create his companion, the WoMandrake. She is 4 feet tall and getting ALL tricked out to compliment him.

My documentary project, The Sinister Stitch Chronicles, is currently running on my YouTube channel  and follows their story. I’ll continue filming and releasing the Chronicles episodes through 2012.

What made you choose embroidery as the medium to share this project?

I like to say that I “speak” thread -- from the colors and the textures, to the possibilities of how it can be worked absolutely flat or crazy dimensional. It COMPLETELY seduced me as soon as I picked up my first how-to book in 2004.

From there, I never looked back.

What’s your studio/workspace like?

My studio is a dedicated bedroom that has such features as the Wall of Thread and my floss books (1ftX2ft folios of floss sorted by color). I have lots of table space, book cases, and my trusty barstool where I perch to stitch. You can tour my studio and check out my tools in the Chronicles episode #2 on FreedomOfStitchTube, as well as on my site freedomofstitch.com by clicking the Studio tab.

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

DMC 975.

If you’d like to check out more of Victoria’s work and keep up with the Sinister Stitch Chronicles, visit her YouTube channel to keep up with all the video happenings or check out her website, Freedom of Stitch,Where Art & Craft Meet Stitch!s

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