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Weekly Spotlight | Introducing Urban Elements

Weekly Spotlight | Introducing Urban Elements

It is a pleasure to introduce you to Kimberly Richards, the talent behind Urban Elements. Kimberly was born in Portland, Jamaica on November 23, 1989 and moved to Houston, Texas in 2003 with her mother and 3 siblings (one sister and two brothers). She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Kimberly works in education full-time as an Operations Coordinator and an Art Teacher. She is also a self-taught embroidery artist. A little over a year ago, what started as a hobby and her vision is to turn it into a business. She works with two techniques, punch needle embroidery and traditional embroidery. Her work can be found on her instagram page, MyUrbanElement. Kimberly shared that she is currently working on a blog and plans to launch it in 2019. The day the blog launches is also the day she plans to begin selling her beautiful work.

1. Do you work in a variety of mediums? Knit, crochet, embroider and other forms of needle art?

I tried crochet when I was younger and recently took a sewing class, which I would love to dive into. However, for now, I’m very focused on improving my skills as an embroidery artist and will continue to focus solely on that medium for the next year or two.

2. What was the first craft you learned?

The first craft I learned was sewing. Growing up in Jamaica, I would watch my mother sew curtains and other items. After she taught me how to use her sewing machine, I began creating clothes for my dolls. I can’t remember my exact age at the time. However, I do remember being under 10 years old.

3. How did you become involved with embroidery?

My first time trying this type of craft was August of last year. I was in search of a new hobby and while at Michaels, I came across a very beautiful embroidery kit. Memories of my mother embroidering different items quickly came to mind upon seeing it. Along with sewing, my mother enjoyed this type of craft as well. These memories motivated me to give it a try. After trying it, I became hooked. I began researching different techniques and stitches and began creating different pieces.

What draws you to it?

  1. I love how you can use such simple tools to create very beautiful designs that comes to life.
  2. I find embroidery to be very therapeutic. I work in education, which can be very stressful at times. Embroidery helps me de-stress. It also takes my mind off things and brings me to a moment where I’m simply focused on what’s in front of me.
  3. As a new embroidery artist, I’m always excited about what I’ll be learning next. Whether it’s a new stitch or just discovering a new way of doing something, even the simplest things. For example, quickly unraveling a 6 strand thread without getting it tangled along the way.

4. What process do you use when you think about a new piece? Do you begin with sketches? Photos? Visits to museums? Nature Centers? What is the process from start to finish for a work?

I’m inspired by many things around me (e.g. music, people, photos, and things I’m passionate about and love). I have a stack of images that are waiting to be transferred to fabric for embroidery. As I think of something or see something I love, I add it to the stack. I don’t always plan in advance what piece I’ll be working on next. Once I’m finished with a piece, I go to my stack of images and select the one I’m most excited about working on. Once I’ve selected my image, I then transfer it to fabric using the iron-on method. I then think about how I want my image to look and decide which embroidery technique I would like to use to achieve the look. My go-to techniques are punch needle embroidery and traditional embroidery. There are times when I’ve used both techniques on one piece of work. For example, the piece with the lady and her afro. Once I’ve made my decision on the type of technique I’d like to use, I begin working on my project. Smaller projects take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks to complete (I work full-time, so I’m not able to complete my piece quickly). A larger piece normally takes a little longer to complete.

5. Many of us working with needle arts collect yarn, thread and other raw materials for future unknown projects. Some artists just buy what they need for a specific project. Is your studio filled with stash of all kinds of materials? If so, how do you organize everything? Do you pick up unusual supplies as you travel?Can you show us a photo of your studio?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a studio at the moment. As many people know, New York apartments aren’t very big on space, so I currently work out of my bedroom. In my room, I have a desk, that I hardly ever work from (I enjoy sitting up in bed while working on my projects), and several bins filled with supplies. I recently held an embroidery class in Brooklyn and have lots of supplies left over. I plan on working through those items before purchasing anything else, unless I need a specific color yarn/floss that I don’t have. Before I had these supplies, I would only purchase what I need for a specific project due to the limited amount of storage space. 

Thanks Kimberly.  We will be watching for your posts on Instagram and look forward to seeing your work in the future.