Tina Crawford is the artist behind Thread Drawn by Tobyboo and works from her art studio in west London. Tina 'draws' her designs using her trusty sewing machine, creating free-flowing embroidered images that are then translated onto a range of products.
What got you started making / creating your designs / products?
I started using the sewing machine to make art when I became chronically ill. I did go to art college, I was a Central St Martins but when i graduated I went into television production- the first show I worked on was a kids art programme. I loved working in TV but in 2000 I became disabled and started making art again, I did an adult education class in machine embroidery and i completely took to it! A few years in on working with thread I looked at ways to reproduce my work on items, I did create ranges for high street giants like House of Fraser and John Lewis but made a conscious decision to only work with museum and heritage shops so I can work with them and create bespoke designs
How would you describe your designing / creating style?
Free! Loose thread, I literally draw with the sewing machine so the result is a beautiful fluid line
What is your motto?
Oooh…. How about ‘follow that thread wherever it takes you!’
What was your first success with your designs / products?
I won a competitive process for work to be in House of Fraser selected by Mary Portas back in… ahem… 2011
Tell us about your design process.
I normally get quite loose briefs and buyers who trust my process, with The Globe, for example I have the Shakespeare portrait, the theatre itself and the plays - obviously I could be most creative on the plays. I don’t draw first, I go in straight with the needle, then I have to make the artwork clean and digital which is the part I don’t like, it’s time consuming and I don’t have Photoshop so it’s a painful process!
How important is the environmental sustainability of your products?
I only have products made in Britain, I deliberately don’t involve gift boxes or extra packaging- hopefully the product is beautiful enough it doesn’t need ribbons and bows!
What has been your most interesting commission (apart from the Globe, obvs?)
Most interesting commission? I have had some recently but I’m not allowed to talk about it, that’s for actual artwork. Product wise, I always try to make them interesting for me but I did love working on an exhibition at The Museum of London back in 2012, it was Doctors, Dissection & Resurrection Men - I had to think about sensitivity of the subject as well as making something that would be popular.