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A bit of an artist statement

Hand embroidery is a slow art. It offers great freedom of expression compared with other forms of sewing, where the maker must strictly follow a pattern or a grid. At the same time, to embroider is to be absolutely deliberate with every stitch.

Growing up, I studied classical piano, earned a BA in music, and taught music lessons for years — but I always came back to sewing. As a girl, I learned how to cross stitch and do various crafts. I was endlessly fascinated by the detail in my grandmother’s needlepoint Christmas stockings and my mom’s crewel tree ornaments. So now, I am merely carrying the torch that was passed down to me, and even to my own two children. It is humbling to know that I am a part of a legacy of strong women.

The arts provide a means of attention to detail, creative expression, self-discipline, studying traditional works, and finding one’s own voice. Many artistic exercises — whether in music or visual arts — are simple enough for a child to learn, yet deeply complex when pursued with excellence. With every embroidered piece, I have the opportunity to find a balance of pleasing design, precise stitch placement, and unabashed freedom of expression. I strive to connect with the viewer whether the message is one of pulling heartstrings, challenging viewpoints, or laughing for a moment of levity. The world can make us weary, but the Smallwoods is a place of rest.

Tamara Harper

Tamara lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband and two children, Isaiah & Eloise. Her book, Living Restfully: A Skeptic’s Guide to Raising Children Screen-Free is available on Amazon. Watch her TEDxBirmingham talk free online.

photo by Gus Dugger