The Court Circular catch up with thread painting artist, author, Royal School of Needlework tutor and now podcast co-host, Marg Dier
Words | Lucy Donoughue
”My love of embroidery was inspired by my Grandma,” thread painting artist Marg Dier shares fondly when we meet to chat about her incredible talent. “She was a seamstress and used to make clothes for me when I was little. Sometimes she would decorate them with embroidery and I always wanted her to show me how to do it.”
“She failed miserably,” Marg continues laughing. “She was very advanced, and I couldn’t follow what she was doing, so instead I did little cross stitch kits and I loved it!”
Embroidery was quite an unfashionable pastime when she was growing up, Marg insists, so no-one at school knew she did it, but she continued her hobby regardless.
However, after she’d finished her A-Levels, she came across an article about the Royal School of Needlework, and thought, “Yes, that’s for me!”
“I’d never really thought it could be a job,” Marg explains. “But at the time, the RSN offered a three-year apprenticeship and I applied, having only done my own thing – butterflies, flowers and kits – nothing advanced at all, so I really didn’t think I had a chance.”
Despite worries about her perceived lack of qualifications in art or textiles, Marg believes that her passion and enthusiasm ultimately won her a place. “I started the three-year apprenticeship and I’ve pretty much been there ever since in different roles and I still love it!”
Marg is now a tutor at the Royal School of Needlework, housed in Hampton Court Palace and she works in the commercial studio there too. Being at the Palace is incredible, she notes, witnessing the beauty of the gardens as the seasons change. There is a small downside however, the temperature in winter.
“If you could see me,” she laughs. “Sometimes I have two pairs of fingerless gloves and a shawl on when I’m working on a design. I must look such a sight!”
Outside of the RSN, Marg creates beautiful embroidered jewellery which has recently featured in Country Living and sells on Etsy, she’s written her own book Thread Painting and Silk Shading Embroidery: Techniques and Projects and is currently contributing to a new set of volumes for Bloomsbury, entitled The Textile Encyclopaedia.
Marg also shares a lot of her incredible work on Instagram and in lockdown she realised that people were increasingly interested and asking lots of questions, some of them very technical. Her friend and RSN colleague Masako Newton had been receiving messages too and floated the idea of starting a podcast to connect with people who are as passionate about embroidery as they are.
The podcast listenership quickly grew, with a worldwide reach and they now have a third contributor, Becky Hogg. “We really enjoy making the podcast,” Marg enthuses. “We get so many questions and such great feedback. Many people have shared that they stitch while listening to us in the background and they find it calming which is just wonderful.”
Follow on Instagram @margdierembroidery and @theembroiderypodcast