Meet the Maker: Angela Snape from CoverStory
Self-taught embroiderer Angela Snape from CoverStory is proof that it’s never too late to learn a craft. Two years ago she bought a set of embroidery needles and taught herself the art of hand embroidery using blogs, video tutorials and the help of the crafting community. She’s come a long way since then, and the embroideries she now creates are exquisitely stitched interpretations of nature. Each piece can take several days to finish but the results are worth every second: “To see the picture in my head coming to life with every stitch is just brilliant.” We talked to Angela to find out more about her embroideries and her inspiration…
Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hello, I’m Angela Snape and I sew. I’ve made lots of different things since opening my shop on Folksy (bags, cushions, notebook covers, bookmarks) but my main focus now is on my hand embroideries.
Who, or what, influences you?
Nature is my biggest influence. It’s an endless source of inspiration. Even in a city you don’t have to look far – front gardens, parks, grass verges, even along the edges of railway tracks. Nature has a way of taking over. I love the work of people like Mary Corbet (her Needle ‘n Thread page is an amazing resource for anyone wanting to learn embroidery), Trish Burr and Sarah K Benning.
Nature is my biggest influence. It’s an endless source of inspiration.
How did you learn embroidery?
A couple of years ago I bought myself some needles and embroidery thread and dived right in. I didn’t really know what I was doing and my first attempts were clumsy. I was determined to learn though, and found that there were lots of embroiderers online who were willing to share their own knowledge and experience by way of blogs, tutorials and videos. This is typical of the generosity of the crafting community. I also borrowed lots of books from my local library.
A design can take many hours. I sometimes stitch a piece over several days (with lots of breaks) as it can be quite intense.
What’s the hardest thing to get right with hand-embroidery?
It’s different for everyone who embroiders. For me, it’s been the use of the long and short stitches you can see in my butterflies and birds. It’s a technique I’m still trying to perfect.
It’s an amazing feeling to be creating something beautiful from a few basic materials.
Can you talk us through your creative process?
There are always lots of ideas floating around in my head but sketching one out is always my starting point now. I like to look through photographs, nature guides, books and Pinterest [follow Angela on Pinterest here] so that I’m able to choose the right colours for the threads I’ll use.
I then trace over the basic outlines of the sketch (using greaseproof paper from the kitchen) and, using the light from a window, I transfer the outline on to the fabric with a pencil. After that, the sewing can begin. I find the first few stitches the most daunting but once they’re done I really get into the flow and start to enjoy it.
A design can take anywhere from a couple of hours to many hours depending on the complexity. I sometimes stitch a piece over several days (with lots of breaks) as it can be quite intense.
How would you describe your style and has it changed over time?
My style very much revolves around nature as it’s so beautiful and diverse. I can’t seem to look at a plant, flower or bird these days without trying to picture it as an embroidery. At the moment I use my phone more for taking photographs than for anything else!
I think my style has changed naturally over time but that’s because I’ve become more confident and ambitious with my sewing. I’m challenging myself more.
Right now I’m happy to be working towards becoming the best embroiderer I can be.
Can you describe your workspace? Where is it and what’s in it?
My workspace is our front living room. I’ve gradually taken it over as our children have grown up – they’re all teenagers now and spend more time in their own rooms. It’s a great room for sewing as it gets quite a lot of light, especially in the mornings. I have a table that I sew at and shelves for books, magazines, baskets of thread, jars of buttons and beads – as well as other craft items I don’t really need but like to have around ‘just in case’. My sewing machine and mannequin don’t get much use these days but I wouldn’t be without them. Something else I couldn’t be without is my table lamp and magnifier. It’s a great piece of kit and some of my embroideries would be impossible without it.
Our living room is a great room for sewing as it gets quite a lot of light, especially in the mornings.
What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
That’s a bit of a way off, unfortunately, but I’m enjoying trying to get there! Right now I’m just happy to be working towards becoming the best embroiderer I can be.
What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Don’t hesitate! There are lots of things you can learn or pick up as you go along. It’s such a wonderful feeling when someone loves your work enough to want to buy it and such a confidence booster, too!
If you weren’t a maker what would you be?
When I was younger I really wanted to be a zookeeper. I did consider becoming a gardener at one point too, so I suppose it’s not surprising that my embroideries are inspired by nature!
When I was younger I really wanted to be a zookeeper. I considered becoming a gardener too, so it’s not surprising my embroideries are inspired by nature.
Is there a piece you’re particularly proud of?
Ooh, that’s a difficult question. Because I’m learning all the time it’s usually the last piece I’ve finished, but I do have a real soft spot for my goldfinch.
What does craft mean to you?
For me it’s such an amazing feeling to be creating something beautiful from a few basic materials. To see the picture in my head coming to life with every stitch is just brilliant. When other people like it too that makes all the hours of learning and trying and, sometimes, agonising over the smallest details feel worthwhile. I’ve come to craft fairly late in life compared to some – but the wonderful thing is that creativity has no age limit.
Get 15% off all Angela’s embroideries – just use discount code Cover15 before 31st August.