Graduate Story: Elysia Cusworth – Hand Embroidery

Elysia Cusworth got the chance to study with the School of Stitched Textiles towards the end of 2019. She received the highest number of votes in our Bursary poll and was awarded a place on our Hand Embroidery Skill Stage 2 course. At age 16 at the time of joining us, Elysia also become one of our youngest students.

Elysia Cusworth

A couple years ago health took a down turn and during this period I lost a lot of my hobbies I was interested in. As a result I really wanted to find something to do and tried many different creative things like acrylics, watercolours and so on. I then started to do cross stitch but eventually found cross stitch to be limiting my creativity. I wanted more freedom with my needle. After discovering hand embroidery I started to go to day classes and looked at online resources to get more incite. I loved the process and it has stuck with me ever since.

My main motivation was myself. I wanted to challenge myself and develop my skills for my own sense of achievement. I knew that I wanted to further my embroidery skills and hopefully make a living out of it in the future, whether this after going on to further study or not, and I hoped the course would give me the confidence to feel like I could do that, and it has!

Elysia Cusworth: This is her creative journey with the school of stitched textiles
Cow Hand Embroidery design by Elysia Cusworth
Panda Hand Embroidery by Elysia Cusworth

My main motivation was myself. I wanted to challenge myself and develop my skills for my own sense of achievement. I knew that I wanted to further my embroidery skills and hopefully make a living out of it in the future, whether this after going on to further study or not, and I hoped the course would give me the confidence to feel like I could do that, and it has!

The main attraction for me was the tutor interaction and clear structure of the course which allowed the work to be broken down into sections to be easily digestible for myself. The course is also distance learning which was also a further benefit for me and allowed me to complete the course at my own pace.

Bees on Lavender Hand Embroidery by Elysia Cusworth

What have you learnt?

The most helpful thing has been giving me the confidence in myself, in my embroidery and designs. I have been able to show myself that I can think of ideas from scratch, from the initial sketches, all the way through to the end product. It has also given me the confidence to try new ideas and stitches and if it doesn’t work out, who cares! The mistakes I have made have led me to think of better ideas or a different way of designing things so that the final result has turned out even better than my initial plans.

What’s next?

I want to start to use my embroidery skills to teach within the community. Having completed a dementia and the arts course I was fascinated by the benefits that art can have on people. Especially people with dementia and other mental health struggles. It is my hope that I can use my skills to teach and support others. I also want to continue to develop my work and sell my work online and in gallery spaces.

I would absolutely recommend the course to others! The courses are particularly good for people who really want to develop their skills but don’t know where to start. With the amazing guidance from the tutors you get to learn a range of skills and different types of embroidery. You also have the opportunity to develop your own creativity if you are unsure of what your own individual style is as well.

Bear Hand Embroidery by Elysia Cusworth

What would your advice be to new students?

Make sure you plan your time, I found it so important to do this. Plan around work, activities, family life as you need the time set aside to focus on your course work. It helps to set a time period for working. I found that working for long periods of time resulted in creative burnout. When I scheduled in regular breaks or left it for the day I found that I enjoyed the process more. I also felt more creatively free. I would also recommend that for each sample or piece of work to get creative with it!

This is your time to experiment with different elements of your work; it really helped me use a range of different stitches and experiment with different ways of using them. This meant after the course I had a wide variety of samples to go to for inspiration. I also found different stitches that I really enjoyed using, some I wouldn’t have tried if I hadn’t pushed myself.

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