First, inspiration! I find inspiration in a lot of places, but most importantly I find it in my relationship with Christ - His word & work are the most inspiring sources I can think of. This piece was inspired specifically by Matthew 14:6 where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." I've found myself coming back to this idea a number of times lately, especially when I've felt I was searching for a purpose or motivation in my life. The second piece of inspiration was this video from chalk artist Dana Tanamachi - I love her work and I especially loved the way she used black lettering in this piece. So I looked up examples of medieval inspired black lettering before sketching and tweaking a design that would work for my own work.
Once I have a solid(ish) sketch, I redraw the design as lightly & accurately as possible onto #110 lb card stock. I then use a small tapestry needle to punch holes along the lines I drew before erasing them.
This is my favorite part! The design is starting to take on a life of its own and color is what really brings it alive. Here's the colors I was considering for this piece:
I knew I wanted a bold, dark color for the main outlines and a lighter accent color. Once I picked those out, it was time to sew!
I do a simple straight stitch back and forth through each hole I had punched, keeping the embroidery floss nice and tight as I go. Depending on the design, this step can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to finish. But when I finish, it's so exciting! I often just set the piece up on my desk to kind of "soak it in" while I work on something else or walk away from it for awhile. Then I photograph and list it in my shop: