“I think I say ‘yes’ too easily” – embroiderer Danielle Clough

Ad feature: In partnership with Design Indaba, Cape Town’s festival of creativity, Design Week is highlighting the work of a series of South African creatives over the coming weeks.

In this piece, we talk to embroidery designer Danielle Clough.

Danielle C - STEVE2-FULL

Cape Town-based  Danielle Clough spends her time between photography, graphic design, embroidery and being a video jockey. Her most recent creative investment – embroidering – secured her a spot in the Design Indaba 2016 Emerging Creative programme.

Design Week: How would you describe your background and your work?

Danielle Clough: I studied art direction and graphic design at Red and Yellow School of advertising. Currently, I work as a designer for a company called Mama Money. I also design book covers and do layout on a freelance basis. Besides this I’m also an embroiderer and a VJ (video jockey) for various artists and events.

DW: How do you manage your time between all these fields of work and interests?

DC: I think I say “yes” too easily. Then, from a fear of disappointing people, I’m forced to figure out how to make it all work. I’m fortunate that all the people I work with are accommodating and kind. I think I’ve been good at choosing the right people and projects to work with.

DW: How did you get into embroidery?

DC: It started while I was studying. I made plush toys for extra money, so I always had the thread and felt around. I started “drawing” on scrap piece of felt with thread and really enjoyed it. I kept doing these “thread sketches” – which lead to embroidering them.

DW: How was the idea of embroidery in rackets born?

DC: A friend showed me simple hearts woven into a racket and I took it as a challenge. It started with flowers because I figured it would be the easiest thing to experiment with. I became hooked on the colour and depth possibilities I could achieve with these flowers and took it from there.

DW: Is embroidery time-consuming? How long would you say does an average flower racket piece takes?

DC: It’s really time-consuming. It varies depending on the detail. It’s hard to quantify because I always travel with a backpack full of threads and I sew when and where I can. It is not a like a nine-to-five job.

DW: Are there specific materials or thread you choose over others?

DC: I don’t discriminate when it comes to threads. I used wool, tapestry and embroidery floss. I’ve learned a lot through trial and error.

DW: What are some the biggest pitfalls you have encountered with embroidery?

DC: The hardest thing is the disappointment of a piece that you’ve spent hours on and it just doesn’t work. Deciding whether to toss it or keep going can be so disheartening.

DW: What advice would you give to others looking to embark on a creative career?

Watch out for admin. It always catches up with you.


To see the full collection of featured South African creatives go to designindaba.com/southafricancreatives.

Danielle C - poo-2
Danielle C - rap-house
Danielle C - RACKET-POPPY-more-space
Danielle C - paper-flower-racket
Danielle C - ALOE-RACKET

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