Meet Sue

Born in Newcastle on Tyne, I've lived in beautiful Cornwall with my husband for well over forty years. I'm Mum to two, and Grandma to four. An English teacher since the 1970s, running a busy Department consumed my energy for years, though I made time to pursue my love of art and design through a part-time MA course. However, since retiring I have had time for my stitching passion.

My love of embroidery dates back to childhood, when my Gran bought a traycloth with a transfer cross stitch design on and gave it to me along with some brightly coloured threads . . . I still recall the thrill of stitching with variegated pinks, purples and blues. Lots of kits followed, especially cross stitch designs, and my home is full of the pictures I made - like the long tapestry I worked on a floor-standing frame when I was expecting my son.

During a career break while my children were tiny, I did all sorts to try to make a few pennies, and it was in 1987 that Frogstitch was born, when I turned my love of embroidery into a little business, creating original designs and selling small pieces of work in local galleries, at craft fairs and markets. The name came from my lifelong love of frogs and a (debatable!!) conviction that 'frogstitch' sounded vaguely like 'cross stitch' 🐸 But returning to teaching meant less and less time for stitching, and eventually I was doing none.

Then I retired, and had plenty of time for anything at all, including a growing interest in artists and embroiderers, whose work I followed on Facebook. I especially loved the subtle beauty of Christine Kelly's embroidery (Gentlework) and the quirky designs of Viv Sliwka (Hen's Teeth). At the start of 2016 I had a light bulb moment when I came across a box of old first day cover envelopes on a market stall. I'd collected stamps in my youth, and have always thought of the best commemoratives as mini works of art. Suddenly, a lovely envelope featuring British Birds inspired me to create a stitched piece around its stamps.

I decided that it would be a good moment to revive Frogstitch as a Facebook page to record my new project and posted pictures of my embroidery progress. My son-in-law's aunt saw British Birds and asked whether it was for sale - I had my first customer!

Now I stitch almost every day, and enjoy nothing more than playing with different ingredients to make new pieces. I particularly love vintage paper, and like to use fragments of poetry, music, maps, illustrations and stamps. My current work is more free and organic, inspired by the natural landscape, especially trees, and literature.

Maybe it’s my teaching background, but September 2018 has prompted me to make a few changes. Frogstitch, and my faithful logo companion, Miss Froggy, are now part of Sue Spence Textile Artist’s history. I am especially delighted to have become a member of the new Society for Embroidered Work. I finally feel ready to call myself an ‘artist’.

I sell my work online, and am happy to consider commissions. When not stitching, I can be found scouring charity shops and antique markets for vintage fabric, threads and yarn, old books of poetry or natural history and ephemera of all papery and textiley varieties.