Welcome to the third installment of our monthly blog feature, highlighting some of the fantastic, varied and inspirational jobs that women do up and down the country. All of our hands tell a story in one way or another, so we have decided to focus on roles where hands are fundamental to the work we do. #YourHandsTellaStory
This month we spoke to Zara Merrick, a London-based textile artist who creates stunning illustrations with fabric and thread. Zara's latest works are based on birds, where she uses stitching to give shading giving the illusion of depth and texture. With every piece hand stitched, it can take up to four weeks and hundreds of hours to complete a larger work. Zara uses vintage and contemporary fabrics sourced from antique fairs in France and England and we have fallen in love with her avian beauties!
Tell us why you love your job!
I love what I do - well it would be completely mad to do what I do if I didn’t, as it takes such a huge time commitment. I sometimes wonder how I do it myself, but mostly it's passion that pushes me on. The selecting of fabrics, often old french fabrics that I collect, marrying those with each particular bird and then the slow emergence of the bird as it develops. As each work progresses it becomes thick with stitch and that's when I truly enjoy what I do… knowing that the piece of fabric was flat and empty and now is something tactile and busy with pattern, colour and texture.
Why are you hands so important in what you do?
My hands are my livelihood. Somehow I transfer my imagination via my hands into my artworks. My hands take a bashing though as I wash them a lot so as not to mark the fabrics. They are often dry and very neglected-looking which I don’t notice particularly until someone else notices and then I feel embarrassed at their state! Winter is my favourite time of year for my hands as I can put on a pair of gloves and hide them but also I feel like I’m protecting them. I know I should take much better care of them…its on my list of things to do!
Also I have always been a ‘toucher’. I can't look at an item of clothing without feeling it. To me the feel of something is as important as how it looks, be it a plant, a piece of marble....anything!
What are your top tips for maintaining a healthy balance or incorporating mindfulness in your life?
As a mother of four boys, there’s not a lot of time in my day for true mindfulness. I spend a lot of time working on my pieces and managing home life, so I’m lucky if I get two minutes to myself. Saying that, the act of sitting and stitching almost feels like mindfulness in itself. I used to listen to the radio a lot, but now I like to immerse myself with headphones on and listen to music. It feels like I'm in my own world!
I love a cup of tea, so I will generally find time for tea and a little peace and quiet. This is often when I hang what I have been working on that day and contemplate my progression. I'm definitely aware of having a healthy diet, and I like to go to the gym too.
And finally, we'd love to know what you think of our new Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream!
I've used a lot of hand creams in the past and what I love is that I can use yours, it sinks in and I can start working on the textiles immediately. It feels like my hands are protected even hours after using it! I love the blend too, those essential oils are lovely.
Zara's work is available to buy at Will's Art Warehouse and is also on display at the brand new beauty store Mortar & Milk in Fulham.
If you would like to nominate a friend, family member or colleague to feature in our monthly hand cream blog post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting #YourHandsTellAStory!
Love, Aurelia x
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!