This month's cover art: Michelle Hockey

April 23, 2018

 

This month’s cover was created by local textile designer Michelle Hockey. Michelle designs handmade, often embroidered, patterns, which are reproduced as fabrics for home furnishings and upholstery. While there’s a good chance you’ll have come across something with her work on it, you might not have heard her name before. “It’s a necessity of the job really,” she explains. “When I sell one of my designs to a client, I sell the copyright, so my name isn’t attached to it.”

 

Michelle sells all of her work through local agent Alistair Boyd, who brings her designs to clients around the world. Her patterns have been selected by brands including Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn, and she’s just found out that several of her designs have been purchased by IKEA. “Alistair is a really lovely person to work for,” she says. “He’s quite unusual in that he’s stayed away from doing too much digital work. We try to keep lots of handmade processes involved. I use all different techniques in my designs – embroidery, collage, screen printing and painting – and I think people are really going back towards those techniques which look more textured and hand drawn.”

 

Michelle started developing her skills at a young age: “I was always the one in the family who liked sewing. I grew up learning from my grandmothers, who both sewed, and I remember just being fascinated by it, by embroidery in particular. I went to Brighton University to do the Textiles BA course there and it was at my degree show that Alistair spotted my work and offered me a job. I hadn’t done any furnishing work before because the course specialised in print for fashion. When you work in fashion textile design you have to create quite small prints, and you have to produce a lot of them – you’d usually do ten designs a week – whereas in furnishings I can concentrate on one or two a week and spend longer working on them and get paid more for each design, so it’s not quite as frenetic.”

 

Her design for our cover is inspired by the vintage button cards she inherited from her grandmothers’ sewing boxes. She sewed the piece over a weekend and brought the finished piece in to be scanned; the original is a fabric collage, with the details embroidered over the top. “The bit I found most tricky was trying to get the buttons to look three-dimensional, because they were quite small and quite fiddly,” she says, “but I just couldn’t resist making them all different patterns. I wanted to use quite an obvious weave in the background, so I found a very loose-woven white linen and then laid black fabric underneath it, so you can see the texture coming through. It’s completely different from the sort of work I normally do because it’s so small, which meant that I could spend a lot of time on each little bit and do the embroidery by hand. I really enjoyed it!”

 

michellehockey@hotmail.com

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