I’m really excited to introduce you to stitcher Mark Bieruagel – the first in our month-long series of interviews with Men Who Stitch. His projects are a fascinating combination of vintage and new, and it’s a pleasure to share his work with you here!
How long have you been stitching?
Because I admired her as a person I took an embroidery class from the artist and entrepreneur Jenny Hart in 2009. I never expected to like embroidery, but suddenly I had a creative outlet and I was hooked on needlework.
What is your favorite aspect of stitching – collecting materials, planning, starting, finishing, etc?
I have to confess I am a bit of a collector and hoarder, so the hunting and gathering of materials is really fun. But I really do love all of the other aspects of creating an embroidered piece.
What is your favorite project that you have stitched?
Recently I created a piece called “Ejecta” which uses floss in a very interesting way. I stitched multiple versions of the word, in different floss colors, and also had the floss ‘explode’ out of a circle. I even included DMC glow-in-the-dark floss as one of the many colors of floss.
What kind of reactions do you get when people see you stitching?
People are nice about it, and it is easy to just start talking as you’re stitching. I’m less nervous talking to strangers when I’m stitching. One man told me about his family all making big latch hook rugs together. People often tell me they don’t have the patience for doing needlework so I always encourage them to try it out.
What would your dream project be?
Oh, to stitch a mile of stitches using every single color of DMC floss. That just appeals to me in so many ways, all the colors, the idea of small stitches adding up to a mile, and just the colors changing over that distance. I swear that I’ve had that dream idea for a long time before this interview.
How many hours a week do you spend stitching?
On a good week I probably spend between 10-12 hours, or maybe more if you include designing, planning, and thinking about pieces. When working on larger pieces it seems the design and planning stages take longer than the actual stitching.
Do you have any other creative hobbies, drawing, painting, etc.?
I enjoy making handmade cards of animals with laser beams coming out of their eyes. I was inspired by an artist named Nowvember out of Portland. I also draw in my sketchbook to get my embroidery ideas down, and with all that practice my drawing is improving.
Do you stitch from patterns or do you create your own?
Mostly I make my own patterns, as the things I stitch aren’t your everyday things. I love vintage embroidery transfers and have collected boxes and boxes of them. I recently stitched a series of anthropomorphic vegetables using my vintage transfers. I also enjoy Sublime Stitching’s patterns, especially the artist series and the pre-printed pillow cases.
Do you have any favorite DMC colors? What is your favorite DMC thread?
The wonderful rich red, 321, is a near constant in my life. I find I keep going back to it. For an orchid art show I stitched three California native orchids and their pollinators all in that luscious red floss. My favorite DMC thread is the classic cotton floss. So many colors, so easy to stitch with! But I have to give a shout out to glow-in-the dark floss, and the lustrous precious metals.
Do you ever meet and share your work with other stitchers? What is your favorite way to do that?
I have met some fellow stitches through flickr and Facebook, which is one of my favorite ways to meet people from all around the world. My cat Tinky likes to “help” me stitch, and felt artist Moxie recently posted my photo with Tinky where I’m working on the “Ejecta” piece.
We have a stitching and knitting ‘lunch hour’ at work where I get a chance to share my projects and hear about other people’s work. I also have been in art shows with other embroiderers and during gallery openings is a really fun chance to compare notes and talk about technique and materials. The stitching world is so full of fantastic, creative, and encouraging people!
To find out more about Mark, visit: