I field a lot of questions about my hand embroidery via email and on Instagram and thought it'd be helpful if I compiled some of my most frequently asked questions here.
How do you come up with your designs?
Just like my paper goods line, the majority of my ideas and designs come straight from my imagination. In many instances, I'm inspired by my own painting and drawing work.
Do you use a pattern? Do you trace your design onto the fabric before you stitch?
Nope! All of my embroideries are done freehand and I create the design as I go along. I do not draw out anything onto the canvas beforehand. I sometimes use invisible ink to draw an outline of the final shape/size that I want the piece to be.
Do you sell patterns or kits? Do you hold workshops?
Not at this time. For now, I'm just happy creating my own original work.
Where can I buy one of your finished pieces?
I sell my pieces framed and matted in my shop. Right now, I release a collection of new pieces once every four to six weeks. The best way to find out about new releases is to sign up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers get first access to the collection. Items are sold on a first come, first serve basis.
Where do you ship to?
Orders ship from Durango, Colorado. Shipping on orders over $60 is free in the United States. Orders typically ship via FedEx Ground or USPS Priority Mail. I also ship via USPS First Class International to the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. If you are interested in ordering something and you are located in another country, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a shipping estimate. More shipping details can be found here.
What if I want to purchase a piece in your shop, but it is sold out?
If an item is listed as sold out, it means that the one-of-a-kind piece of art has sold.
Can I recreate your designs or use an image of your preexisting design as a pattern for my own work?
Please do not. While I greatly appreciate your enthusiasm for my work, I also encourage you to create your own original work or purchase patterns from those who sell them. I spend a lot of time developing my own works and it's disheartening as an artist to come across others copying my designs. Reproducing my work or creating a derivative of my work is actually a violation of copyright laws, whether you intend to or not. And trust me, it's more fun creating your own original works! Here is a great blog post about copyright and intellectual property if you want to educate yourself more about this subject.
Can I share your work on my blog, website, or Instagram feed?
If you are a journalist or blogger and would like access to Dropbox folders of low and high resolution images for easy download, please don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
I always appreciate you reaching out to me first to request permission to share my images on social media channels. I do ask that you provide proper credit and tagging and link back to me. If you post about my work on your blog, please send along a link to the post - I'd love to see what you write! Here's 5 quick tips for reposting someone else's work on Instagram.
Under no circumstances may images of my work be used without my permission to promote your own company or work. Happy Cactus Designs holds the copyright to all of the photographs you see on this website.
How did you learn to embroider?
I taught myself. I was sidelined with an ankle injury at the end of 2014 and decided that if I was going to be resting on my couch for a few weeks then I should try my hand at embroidery. I consulted a handful of books and stitch guides, but found YouTube videos most helpful so I could see how to do various stitches. I wrote a blog post about how to teach yourself to embroider with my favorite resources and products. Click here to read it. If you are looking for a few introductory books, check out this blog post I wrote about my favorites.
Where do you get your supplies?
I mainly purchase my supplies online since I live in a small mountain town without a needlework shop that carries everything I need. I think DMC has the best embroidery thread (don't fall for the imitation brands claiming to be DMC online!). As for the fabric, hoops, scissors, frames, and other tools that I use, I source those supplies from various shops across the U.S. I try to invest in the highest quality supplies. I encourage you to go to your local art or needlework shop to get supplies or spend time researching online like I did. I love sharing some of my favorite tips and resources on my blog.
What type of material do you stitch on?
I primarily work on linen. I try to seek out the highest quality linen - I love Belgian linen in particular - and usually select linen with a lighter weave and a high thread count. I use this pricier linen because I want to create pieces that will last a lifetime. I also spent hours creating each piece and it's much more enjoyable to work on high quality linen that holds my stitches well than a cheaper linen of inferior quality. If you are just starting out, I recommend working on 100% cotton or a cotton-linen blend that is less expensive than pure linen. I also recommend checking out a local craft or fabric store so you can touch and feel the material before you purchase it.
How long does it take to create a design?
Most pieces take a number of hours. I don't always sit with a stopwatch and track my time, but smaller pieces usually take at least 3 hours, while larger pieces can take upwards of 10-30 (my best guestimate!).
Can you create a custom piece of art for me?
I accept a very limited number of commissions for custom hand embroidered artwork. Learn more about making a custom request here.
Can you embroider on my clothing for me? What about table linens?
No, sorry. I do not embroider on clothing, table linens, or other accessories. I only stitch on my own materials.
How should I display the embroidery I purchase from you?
All of the framed hand embroidery found in my shop comes with hanging hardware attached, so it arrives ready to hang on your wall. Alternatively, you can display pieces tabletop on an easel (search "display easel" on Amazon for some nice options). Each purchase also comes with an optional clear plexiglass window you can put in the frame if you wanted added protection.
How should I handle the embroidery I purchase for you?
My hand embroidery is very delicate, so I don't recommend touching it as threads can pull or you could stain the fabric with oils from your fingers. I also highly discourage you from trying to removed the embroidery from the framing as you can cause irreparable damage. If you see a speck of dust on the piece, I recommend gently using a piece of scotch or washi tape to lift it up. Works like a charm! Each purchase also comes with an optional clear plexiglass window you can put in the frame if you wanted added protection.
What's the best way to find out when you release new pieces?
Sign up for the Happy Cactus newsletter and follow me on Instagram.