Last week I was lucky enough to meet the awesome Jamie Chalmers (Mr X Stitch) who you might remember from Kirstie Allsopp's Channel 4 TV series "Kirstie's Handmade Britain: Needlecraft" where he competed against Kirstie by submitting the most awesome cross stitch of Whitby Abbey at Sunset into a needlecraft competiton. I remember watching that show and being blown away by a few things...
1) That Jamie looks remarkably like my husband!
2) How striking, beautiful, detailed and COOL his cross stitch work is and finally,
3) How awesome is it that a dude is doing needlecraft and making it uber-cool.
So, when I recently found out that Jamie had moved from Northampton to Bedford, and was exhibiting a collection of his own cross stitch work as well as some other artists' incredible pieces at the Pop Up Shop on my local high street I jumped at the chance to meet him and see this awesome work.
Whitby Abbey by Mr X Stitch
What I just adore about Jamie's work is how unexpected it is. If you think about cross stitch as a craft you'd be inclined to think it's all flowers, country gardens, "Home Sweet Home" signs or Forever Friends craft packs. Not awesome landscapes, famous artwork recreations, video games, guns and spam email (some of the themes of the pieces I saw in the exhibit). Jamie really does take all things cross stitch and turns them on their head!
Jamie kindly agreed to give a private viewing and tour of the exhibit to myself and some WI friends, and I can't wait to share my favourite pieces from the exhibition with you...
A Gun themed cross stitch by Jamie, too cool for school!
Pokemon 3D (yes, 3D!!) cross stitch! By Lord Libidan.
Collection of space themed alphabet cross stitches for a children's room, just wow! By Rebecca Greco.
Close up for Gg for Galaxy
Funky Chicken embroidery by Mimi Love Forever
Jamie's (Mr X Stitch) 'Mona Lisa', this incredible cross stitch is tiny, seriously it's like a couple of inches big! Mental.
One of my favourite bands ever. This guy just keeps on getting cooler. Serious kudos earned with this one Jamie! :-)
Wolverine by Mr X Stitch
My favourite piece in the whole show, Wolverine by Jamie (Mr X Stitch) I found this piece so striking. I loved the detail, the darkness and the really interesting hues in the colour palette chosen. Also, my husband is a super hero/comic book/ Marvel nut, so I'm always drawn to things with that subject matter at it's core.
I loved the fun and interesting premise behind this cross stitch: it's part of a series of pieces all based on actual spam emails Jamie had received at some point or another, they make up a really fun collection!
They read: "Wouldn't this only happen in America?", "I found your entry interesting thus I've added a trackback to it on my weblog", "Greetings in the name of God", and "a hand on my shoulder and I heard the Count's voice saying to me.."
I love the open ended-ness of these pieces…the stories you can create in your own head after viewing/reading them. I love to imagine that everybody will read their own meanings into the works, and interpret each piece differently. I think it's clever subject matter to use something as mundane and common as a spam email and turn it into something so beautiful and thought provoking.
I couldn't be anything other than impressed about these uber cool and quirky pieces which screamed individualism, fun, and integrity as incredible pieces of craft in their own rights. The skill and design involved in making such intricate pieces of needle work left me in awe of what these talented craftsters can achieve. I was also struck by the deeper thinking, the messages, or the sheer "let's do this because it's fun/funny/silly" element of some of the works. Each utterly charming in their own rights.
Marilyn Monroe by Suzette Taylor
I chatted to Jamie and his lovely girlfriend for ages, and am so glad to have finally met the infamous Mr X Stitch. Also excited about how local they are now... We chatted about all things Bedford and who to know and where to go! I'm hoping we'll catch up again soon and put our arty heads together in the future...I was buzzing with inspiration and ideas after our meet.
If you'd like to see more of Jamie's work, or are just generally nosy and fancy having a gander at his website and social media pages, then please click below.
If you fancy meeting Jamie then why not pop down to the amazing Drink, Shop, Do in London's Kings Cross on the 2nd June, 7th July, or 4th August for his X Stitch Hangout sessions: where Mr X Stitch himself is on hand to assist you in your own cross stitch projects...cocktails, cake AND cross stitch - is there anything better? :-)
Do you cross stitch or embroider? What's your preference: traditional needlework or something a little more contemporary?
I'm feeling inspired to get out my crafty suplies and have a go at some hand 'make it up as you go along' embroidery all ready for my WI 'Sewing Bee' competiton tonight ... I'm decorating a canvas tote bag with felt and embroidery...watch this space, if it goes well I might even share a picture with you guys.
Happy Stitching Everyone!
You can visit Mr X Stitch's website here
Or follow him on Twitter @MrXStitch