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!
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.