Sunday, June 7, 2015

Interview with POMPOM Design

Helena, live-crafting at Liberty
Needlepoint. It’s not a form of embroidery that we see often on the &Stitches
blog.  So this month we hook up with POMPOM Design, a small company that makes
needlepoint kits and bespoke items, to get ourselves acquainted with this particular
form of needlework. Today we speak to Helena Ben-Zenou, founder of POMPOM Design
and we are delighted to have her as a guest blogger later this month as well.

Helena, you have a background in art (photography, painting) how did you get involved in making needlework kits and items?

Although I started out as an artist, I have always had a love of all things design, textiles, interiors, craft and in particular needlepoint. I started out by designing and making my own needlepoint projects about 15 years ago, mainly making needlepoint versions of my paintings, which I would work on in the evenings at home just for my own enjoyment of the stitching process.

After a while I thought how nice it would be to create some needlepoint cushions for my sofa, but really struggled to find contemporary designs that I liked. 
I also realised that if I really wanted to stitch needlepoint projects which were also great as contemporary textile designs, as well as beautiful, there was a really good chance there were lots of people like me, and so the idea of POMPOM Design was born…

What made you choose needlepoint over other forms of needlework?

I remember being given needlepoint kits (or here in the UK they are often called tapestry kits) as a child, which I loved stitching. Both my mother and grandmother were keen needlepoint-ers too, so it is something I have grown up with and has always been a bit special for me.
However, I also love needlepoint because it is extremely relaxing and enjoyable. Within our often fast-paced, disjointed and throw-away culture, I love the fact that needlepoint is as much about savouring and enjoying the process of making as it is as about the finished product. It is essentially a very simple craft that can be sociable or solitary, and it creates extremely longlasting and outstandingly beautiful results.
Can you tell me a little bit about POMPOM’s design process?

After deciding that I was going to create my own needlepoint designs I realised quite quickly that if I wanted to create designs for kits that were really high quality textile designs, I needed the help of an experienced designer. So I work with textile designer Dan Rambaut to create the designs. Dan studied textiles at Middlesex University and is freelance textile designer selling his contemporary designs both nationally and internationally.

I set the briefs and come up with the ideas for the designs. I am very influenced by Modernist design - from the 1920's through to the 1970's, so I try and imbue the designs with a contemporary take on these Modern styles. Dan takes the briefs and builds up the design for me, I then offer 'constructive feedback', and Dan will edit the designs until I am happy. I then tend to tweak the design a bit more as I add the colourways,  et voila! a design emerges...

I will then stitch a prototype of the design, it is important for me that the design not only looks lovely in terms of pattern, rhythm, composition and colour, but that is also a joy to stitch. I also want to make sure the design is accessible and enjoyable for both those completely new to needlepoint as well as more experienced stitchers.

After the design is stitched, if it ticks all my boxes and makes the grade it is ready to be made into a kit! Creating each new kit is quite a long process and a good number never make it past the prototype stage, so it is really exciting for me when I have a new kit design to introduce…
It’s time to get on the soapbox and tell us why we should give needlepoint a try!

I love that needlepoint is adaptable, offering both contemplative and sociable crafting. We design the kits so that you can concentrate on them totally, think and dream, listen to music, the radio, audio books, or you can chat away as you stitch. You can dip in and out of your project for a long or short time. You can stitch on the train, the bus, in the garden or park, on the sofa, in bed, in your lunch break, in the evenings or during weekends and holidays. There can be great pleasure in taking time for some quiet relaxation and personal creativity before the demands of the day take over, and it is a perfect way to complete a day…And after many hours of enjoyment, creativity and relaxation you also have a superb quality and uniquely beautiful hand-crafted item to enjoy and be admired for many years to come…

What can we expect from POMPOM in the future?

We have a lovely new design called Verano (meaning ‘summer’ in Spanish) just coming out that is a blend of Modernist and Navajo / Mexican patterns, in a fresh and summery colourway of lemon, pale and bright pinks, white and a soft blue-grey.

This latest kit uses a slightly larger stitch than our other kits, and creates a much denser stitch called Victorian Cross Stitch. This stitch is always worked without a frame, making it ultra-portable, and it creates a luxuriously thick and dense fabric that is also suitable for use as a rug. So as well as being fabulous for single cushions, multiples of the kit can also be joined together to create a stunning rug…
We also have some exciting new colourways and designs for Autumn in progress.

POMPOM Design’s needlepoint kits are available through the website, from the Etsy shop, and also through online marketplace 

Have you tried Needlepoint yet? Let us know!

Please share all your fabulous embroidery work in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

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