Today we’d like to introduce you to Carly Owens.
Carly, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started embroidering back in 2016 when I had the opportunity to study abroad for the summer at the Royal School of Needlework in the United Kingdom. This was my first experience with embroidery and I was immediately hooked. There, I was introduced to two forms of embroidery, goldwork and crewelwork. I still incorporate both of these traditional embroidery techniques in my work today. After this experience, I decided to focus the remainder of my Bachelor of Art and Design degree on hand embroidery. I went on to intern on the couture embroidery team at Marchesa in New York and became a finalist for the international Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery in London. After graduating, I started my own embroidery based business and practice and I have been continuing to hone my craft on my own. Today, I run my embroidery studio out of a lovely 19th-century house in Boulder that has been converted into artist studios called House of Serein.
Has it been a smooth road?
Is it ever? I think life is a series of ups and downs and I have to remind myself that these experiences are meant to be learned from. Starting out was definitely challenging. First of all, I had to teach myself how to run a business because I had no prior knowledge or practical experience of doing so, other than a minor in Arts Entrepreneurship. I’m only a few years in, so I’m definitely still learning. I also work in a medium that is ostensibly non-existent in the US- goldwork. Although using such a niche technique and making it my own has helped set my work apart, I still had to put in a prodigious amount of work to educate others about it and explain my process.
However, through the inhibitions and self-doubt and the major and minor victories, I have learned so much and I have grown so much as an artist and craftswoman. I have been able to grow my business and art practice organically and on my own terms. It is important to me that my hands are the only ones crafting my own work. Some may view that as limiting because I can only make so much on my own, but my profound love of embroidery is what got me here and I’m sticking to it.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
My “business” is really just a one-woman show me! A lot of my work is hand embroidery based. I love the meticulousness and repetition of embroidery. I dabble in many realms within the textile arts/embroidery worlds but the most common technique I utilize in my work is called goldwork. Goldwork is a hand embroidery technique that dates back over a thousand years. Essentially, goldwork is embroidery with metals. It is sort of similar to beading but there are so many variations of stitches and materials within the goldwork realm. Although I use a lot of traditional techniques in my work, I contemporize them through design style and context. My most popular jewelry pieces are my contemporary adaptations of the Victorian era “Lover’s Eye” portraits. These are hand embroidered using goldwork for the eyelids as well as hand beading for the embellishments that adorn the eye. I’m sort of a history nerd so I am always looking back and taking inspiration from historical jewelry objects for my wearables.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Although the art scene in Boulder may not be huge, I think it is solid and is a wonderful community. I still consider myself pretty new to Colorado (I’m from Asheville, North Carolina originally) so I’m still trying to tap into all that the Boulder/Denver area has to offer.
- Hand embroidered jewelry ($160-300)
- Website: www.carlyelizabethowens.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carlyowensembroidery/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carlyowensembroidery/