About The Name
One of my favorite women in the world was my grandmother, Clara. From the time I was old enough to dream of having a girl of my own, I knew that she would be a Clara as well. My grandmother passed away before her time, so when our daughter was born in 2002, we all greeted her as Clara. My maiden name and Clara’s middle name are Wells. Therein lies the story behind the name of my company, Clara Wells Needlepoint.
I get design ideas from all over. I see a great dress in line at Starbucks and love the color combinations. I spot an interesting animal pattern on a piece of wallpaper, or zone in on an eclectic piece of jewelry and the various metals used. Anything and everything seem to inspire me. I think about what I could be painting on canvas almost every minute of every day. I ponder what design would look best on which accessory.
The colors, for me, are almost more important then the design itself. I usually have those chosen first. I begin all of my designing with a yellow Sharpie marker. I sketch out the general shape until I am pleased with the look. I then begin to add shading with a darker color. The shades get darker and deeper as I add more and more detail.
Once the design has the look that I am going for, I begin to add color. I mix my paints to acheive my palette and begin adding color to the canvas. Once painted, I sit with if for a few days. I’ll walk by the canvas frequently, making sure that I absolutely love it. When I can’t think of anything that I would alter or add, I stitch the canvas. I don’t always need to do this, but for the designs that I am unsure of, I always do. When I feel that the design and colors work together perfectly on an accessory, I assign it a style number and put it in the Clara Wells Needlepoint line.
About The Artist
It was on vacation in Jamaica in 1999 that I first saw my dear friend Sarah needlepointing. It wasn't until the martini belt was complete with leather and a buckle that I realized what a wonderful craft this was. My husband's enthusiasm for his friend's belt assisted me in embarking upon my own project. It was 2 weeks later that I was stitching Chris his first of many surprise anniversary belts. I have recently given him his tenth.
In 2000, pregnant with my son Wyatt, I went to work one day a week at our local needlepoint store in Newport, RI. During the slower days, I would think about what belt designs I would like to stitch and wear. Leslie and Chris, the two lovely women there, encouraged me to dabble with some ideas. I took a yard of blank canvas home with me and started to create.
Sometime later, the ladies decided to sell the store and start a wholesale design company, The Painted Canvas Designs. I designed my first belt, popsicles, while Wyatt napped next to me on the couch. I painted a belt for them here and there as time allowed. In October of 2002, on my husband's birthday, Clara arrived. Time and energy were short on supply over the next couple of years, but I would still give them a belt design when I could.
In August of 2006, my family moved to Sarasota, Florida. That same year, the ladies decided to sell their business. I made the decision to retain my few designs, not knowing at the time if I would do anything with them. As the year began to pass, the kids settled in with daycare and school, we had a routine in the works. I realized that I had a few hours of time on my hands.
I planned a visit to the local needlepoint store in Sarasota, the Eye of The Needle. It was there that I met Kathy, her daughter Meghan and a group of the loveliest ladies. I gave Kathy a brief background story and asked her opinion. Should I design for another company or start my own business? She immediately told me to start my own line, no question. She threw me out the door with a roll of canvas and told me to get to work. Since then, she has answered various questions, given endless opinions and dealt calmly with my over-enthusiastic nature. I am very thankful to her and the rest of the clan at Eye of The Needle!
The following June of 2007 was my first time exhibiting in Columbus. I started my line with 70 belts and 2 pair of shoes. My mother, Lorraine, created my booth with her amazing creative talents and has accompanied me to every show to date. Columbus and California have become our mother-daughter biannual retreat. We eagerly look forward to our time away and so enjoy the quality time we spend together. Oh, and if we sell a few canvases, it was more than worth the trip!
I have more passion now for the craft than I ever did in the past. The motivation and inspiration continue to flow. I am fortunate, I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children who are extremely supportive. Chris feels free to tell me if a design is not working for him and gives praise when he sees one that does. He quietly tolerates the ample tail ends of fibers found strew across chair arms and table tops!
I stitch a sample of a collection for every show that I attend, bag, shoes, cuff and belt. I am not your average stitcher, not just the one that stitches on long road trips or in front of the television. I absolutely do stitch during those times. However, I also stitch while pumping gas, sitting at a red light or waiting for the kids to get out of school. With two active children, a husband, a house to maintain and a business to run, there is not a minute to waste. Stitch away, I say, whenever possible!
Shannon Wells Pokorski