I made this piece for my gran’s 90th birthday at the end of February. It’s one of the first pieces I’ve made about someone I know and I really struggled with it!

The first thing I knew was that it had to be bright. From purple hair and turquoise eyeliner to Indian fabrics and sequins for all occasions, there is always lots of colour around Ellen.

ellen and dragon

I also wanted to capture her sort of energy; curious, enthusiastic and irrepressibly sunny. (Does anyone else get letters from their grandparents about roadtrips across the States, politics in the Middle East and art – all within the same paragraph?)

In common with many people who stride easily past their four score years and ten, Ellen is an irrepressible optimist. She got a tattoo at 80, and can be counted on to denote her approval with an ‘aw, isn’t that darling!’

Ellen hand embroidery - Misericordia 2014

I’m not sure I’m ever going to adequately compress the essence of the person who helped me make my first quilt, showed me that more is more when hanging pictures in your house and let me try on every bright and beaded item in her wardrobe at the same time into an embroidery, but here’s hoping I get another chance to try in 10 years!