Makers Thursday – Tina Francis Tapestry

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The JQBID will be attending the brand new international show Makers Central this weekend together with four local Jewellery Quarter makers; B18 Leather, Glenn Campbell Jewellery, Michele White Jewellery and Tina Francis Tapestry

Leading up to the event, our ‘Makers Thursday’ series has shed a spotlight on these creative individuals.  

The final maker to be featured is Tina Francis Tapestry.  

Tina Francis Tapestry

Tell us about Tina Francis Tapestry?

I was once gifted a box of embroidery transfers. When I opened the box, I was amazed to find it contained a whole woman’s life in knitting and stitching patterns…from her going away outfit, to baby bootees, school uniforms to home embellishments. This woman had spent her whole life creating and making things for her family – a true artist.

I started to look at other “home crafts” that were not seen as art because they are classed as “just something we do” and found that tapestry needlepoint combined both her love of print and texture.

Learning from unfinished second-hand tapestry found in charity shops,  I began my kit business by stitching on the shoulders of these unknown women. My work looks at memory and thought and can be found in banks, private collections and textile galleries.

Why did you decide on your chosen profession? 

I used to work as a computer programmer and tester and so was always a maker but just made things you could not hold. Tapestry is on a grid so I have changed pixels for stitches.

Have you got any advice for aspiring maker/designers? 

If you want to sell your work (and not everyone does) you need to know your costings down to the penny. Renting a studio means that you can produce more work but it will also mean that you need to adjust your prices.

I rent my studio from Birmingham City Council and I know how much it costs me per day to have this luxury. This cost has to be added into the production cost of my products. Its all too easy to just look at materials costs versus how much you sell the resulting product for and think of that as your profit.

Join a community like Etsy or a local Craft Guild. The amount of advice and support you will get from this type of community will bolster your resolve and probably answer all the questions you didn’t know you wanted to ask.

Who or what is your most influential creative inspiration? 

Hannah Ryggen was a tapestry maker in Norway who used her craft to respond to the world around her. She created tapestries that showed her rage against fascism, Norwegian occupation, nuclear development and war. She is a constant creative influence on my work and reminds me that I can use my skill for good especially as a community stitch artist.

What do you enjoy about working in the JQ? 

Being amongst a community of makers enables me to be bolder in my decision making, I know that if I have a problem I can turn to this community to help me. There are so many skills here that cross over into my work. I work on a street full of engravers and so together we share a love of the small details in a larger piece of work.

I run Jewellery Quarter Open Studios which has built a community of makers in all trades over the last three years not just the traditional metal ones.

I also enjoy a good gossip and the Jewellery Quarter is the best place I know for it! A trip to the post office always unveils golden nuggets of information that of course are top secret!

Finally, tea or coffee? Which one keeps you going? 

It’s tea all the way for me in any form but never with milk. First thing in the morning I boil a full kettle and fill up the teapot, the remaining hot water gets put in a flask and I use it to top up the pot for the rest of the day. Sound a little mean? Like I said earlier know your costs a full kettle costs 2.5p to boil!!!!

To find out more about Tina Francis Tapestry visit her website.

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