On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about embroidery and illustration with my guest Sara Barnes.

Sara is an embroidery illustrator and writer living in Seattle, Washington. She runs Bear&Bean, an embroidery studio stitching pet portraits and other beloved creatures. Her work has been recognized in American Illustration, Embroidery Magazine, and Uppercase.

Sara chronicles the creativity of others through her blog Brown Paper Bag and weekly newsletter, Orts.  Her newest book is Threads of Treasure: How to Make, Mend, and Find Meaning Through Thread. When she’s not stitching or writing, she enjoys planning things that bring people together, including Camp Craftaway, a day camp for crafty adults with hands-on workshops.

This episode is sponsored by the Show Up Society.

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Sara holds one of her embroidered pet portraits available through Bear&Bean.

We begin this conversation with Sara talking about her childhood and her decision to go to art school at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Sara talks about feeling that her drawing skills were not as good as some other students and her approach to handling this by focusing on developing a strong style in cut paper collage. 

We talk about Sara’s introduction to blogging and how she came to start her blog, Brown Paper Bag. The act of blogging and highlighting the work of many other artists ended up serving Sara in countless ways. She shares a variety of opportunities that came her way through her blog and through the posts she shares on Instagram.

Threads of Treasure is Sara’s most recent book, published by Schiffer Craft.

Sara also authored Embroidered Life, a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning, and we discussed the process of interviewing Sarah and writing this book. Embroidered Life is a profile of an artist, rather than a book of embroidery patterns, and some readers found that to be not what they expected. We talk about the cover design of Threads of Treasure and the way a cover design can set expectations for what a book contains.

Sara makes custom embroidered shirt collars with pet portraits.

We also talk about Sara’s most recent venture creating embroidered pet portraits. She explains how her prior work experience has helped her to seamlessly handle custom orders.

And, of course, I ask Sara to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Sara recommends:

Keep up with Sara on her blog, Brown Paper Bag, on her website, Bear&Bean, and on Instagram.

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