Unique animal brooches with ribbons and embroidery – PolaLabs Interview
Isn’t it amazing what you can do with a needle and thread? There are so many possibilities to use these simple tools. Tools that did not change much during the centuries of time. Yet, there is always a way to make embroidery truly your own style.
Today I want to introduce you to Pola from PolaLabs. Pola is an artist who makes unbelievably beautiful brooches with ribbons, thread and a needle. She was so kind and reply to a couple of questions I send her. Read on to the full PolaLabs Interview.
Hi Pola, I’m glad to have you here! Could you give us a short introduction so my readers know who you are?
Hello Anne, I am glad to be here! My name is Polina Laamanen but I like, when I am called in short Pola. I am from the cultural capital of Russia, Saint Petersburg. I have lived most of my life there with my mom, who works in theatre as a dressmaker. I have always been fond of beauty, art, and fashion. I’m a big animal lover and as a hobby, I’m doing watercolors and photography.
You have a completely different profession by trade. When did you decide to switch gears and do embroidery instead?
I was studying chemical engineering, but the passion for creation was always living inside of me. I used to keep hand working as a hobby. I’ve learned crocheting, felting, and sewing. In the year 2015, I moved to a small town and quit my job in order to be with the person I love and that gave me freedom and time to develop from a hobbyist to full-time artist.
Before you found your own style you tried out many embroidery techniques. How did you come up with the idea of combining techniques to make it your own?
I started the way of embroidering with lace flowers. It’s amazing how you can create the realistic volume flower with couple pieces of flat lace. I also collect books about different techniques like satin embroidery, goldwork, and stumpwork. But believe me, my first embroidered sparrow looks horrible (note by Pumora: you can see the sparrow below in the picture)
One day I realized that I like the tiny details which can be embroidered with threads, but I can not live without the volume parts. That’s when I had a dream about blue-and-yellow macaw. Next day I started to work on it and you cannot even imagine how I felt when I’ve finished. There was a unique part of me in this bird and I have never seen anything alike before. That’s how my deep dive to the bird world began.
photo of the first parrots in 2016 & photo of the sparrows (one year between this works)
You take pride in not using glue in your brooches. Why is this important for you?
Whoa, you have been doing your homework! As I tell on my webpage, I am not using glue in connecting beads and stones to bases. All materials I’m using (natural feathers, satin, silk and other fabrics) are sewed to the base. But to finish the brooch I am actually using glue – there is a cardboard between the front part and backside to make the piece more stiff and the surface more even. The quality of back side of the brooch should be as great as the front, which makes the brooch also comfortable to use.
For your wedding, you made an incredible dress with embroidered 3-dimensional flowers on the top. How long did it take to make it and how did you come up with the idea?
Actually, I ordered the dress. In Russian tradition, it is counted as a bad sign to make your own wedding dress. It is not like I’m a very superstitious person, but we still followed that tradition. Of course, I was quite demanding with the dress. The flowers were cut out of Italian fabric and each of them was sewed by hand. It took about two months to complete the dress.
Let’s dive into the embroidery related things!
Many embroidery people are struggling with storing their embroidery threads. What’s your system (or non-system), would you share your secret-sauce with us? (If you have a picture of your storage that would be awesome!)
I have the full color collection of DMC threads and I like organizing them. I use metal rings to sort the colors. The colors are sorted according to the producer catalog with slight changes. The nice thing about the rings is that you can take different spectrum circles and find a nice unusual color combination. I’m also making a cross-stitched color map to make the process of choosing the colors even more pleasant. I am using the same method for my silk laces.
Which materials do you like to use the most and why?
The base is always cotton. For the tiny brooches I’m using the thinnest cotton I’ve found. For the threads, I am using DMC as their good quality helps to create better works. Although lately, I’ve noticed that the gray palette is not very wide so I am using other brands when a specific color is needed. The volume parts are made with satin and silk laces and finished with natural feathers. Among those, I still do not have favorite producers and therefore I’m always keeping my eyes open for new brands.
What is your favorite part of the embroidery process from start to finish and which do you like the least?
I guess that my favorite part is adding the volume. It’s always fun. The toughest part is the beginning – when I make the color areas with double thread before starting the detailing with sharp one thread needle.
Which embroidery project was the most challenging one you have ever encountered?
The most challenging is always waiting ahead I think this year I will try to change the scale – that’s very intriguing for me. Other than that – I made a big embroidered necklace with eagle, parrots, and skulls for the Swarovski contest. That was about 3 weeks project and there was even couple around the clock working days for me to stay in schedule. Could you imagine sitting 24 hours by the one table? My hands and fingers were sore after that.
There are so many embroidery techniques and materials out there. What would you love to try out one day that you haven’t done yet?
I would like to try Luneville embroidery but still enhance and develop my own style. Maybe its time to do embroidery on clothes – that would be interesting.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self who has just started embroidering that you wish you had known back then?
I think it is important to go through all famous books and try to visit workshops of the artists you admire. If you feel that you can tell something to the world with your art, keep on creating. Try to gain confidence no matter how things are going. In the beginning, the hardest thing is to believe in yourself. Quite recently I’ve created an online course for doing the embroidery my way.
Thank you for taking the time answering my questions! Where can we find you to see more of Polalabs?
Thank you for interesting questions, Anne. It was my pleasure! You can follow my blog on Instagram where I try to post daily. My best works I upload on the website. Some available works you can find in my Etsy shop.
I wish you a lot of inspiration and creativity
Do you want to read more interviews with amazing people of the embroidery world?
Check out the other interviews of the Hands of Embroidery Series.
April 12, 2018
April 7, 2018