Meet an artist Nicola Mascall

I would like to introduce an interview series ‘MEET THE ARTIST’ for you to get to know more about the talented people who share their work with all of us. The purpose of this series is to acquaint to different artists and designers who work in different media of the miniature needlework in scale. The series is written in the form of an interview that allows to get to know the artist, their background, some tips, tricks, and advices.

Do you find it difficult to introduce yourself as an artist? If yes, you’re not alone.

“I’m an artist” doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue easily. There isn’t an official institution that confers the title of artist on anyone.  You don’t have to pass any licensing boards or get certified to start calling yourself an artist. After all, what we all do in miniature needlework scale is so cool, so magical, and so creative.

Introducing… Nicola Mascall

– What are you specializing in?

I don’t really specialize in any one thing, but I do have a preference for Aubusson carpets, and I love designing and stitching early pictorial wall hangings.

– What made you decide to focus on Petit Point? Did you know instantaneously that this was what you wanted to do (and do extraordinarily well), or did it develop over time?

I began making miniature samplers back in 1992 but quickly progressed to pillows, footstools, etc.

– Creating miniatures is a very niche form of art. How did you get started designing and creating your own patterns/miniatures?

I have a degree in Art and design which led on to illustration. I think my tapestries are an extension of this.  It was not until I got my first computer and gained some skills on it, that I was able to create the carpets, wall hangings etc., I make today.

– What is the process of creating a new pattern or product? How much research goes into a pattern, and what inspires you to create a new one?

Whatever takes my eye. Maybe I will spot something online or in a book, museum, historical building.  I also take on commissions and the customer usually provides me with pictorial reference.  The process can be long in creating the design/pattern.  When charting a carpet (for example) and using my, invaluable cross-stitch design software, I will first work out how many stitches I need for the size required.  Then, I roughly map out the design.  Gradually, I build the design up until I am happy with it.  Once stitching is underway, I make changes to the design along the way, if necessary.  I use a slightly different process when stitching a more pictorial scene such as a wall hanging.  I make a rough chart to begin.  I try to create a pattern for the main elements in the design, such as figures foreground foliage etc., but much of the design gets left to ‘free-hand’ stitching!

 

– What other forms (i.e., different fabrics, materials, needles, etc.) do you work with?

I do not really find time to branch away from Petit Point.  Sometimes, I do a little knitting in the evening but like to stick to simple stuff as by then I am through with concentration!

– Do you feature your work at specific festivals or shows, competitions? What are those experiences like?

The last few years I have only been participating in the London Dollhouse festival, which this year has gone on-line for obvious reasons.  I have entered the associated PIMA competition several times and have been incredibly grateful to have won a first and a second place.  It is quite a stressful experience entering that competition as the standard is exceedingly high.  It requires a lot of valuable time to, not only make something special but also to decide what to make.  If you feel you have put your heart and soul into a project, it can come as quite a blow if your efforts are not rewarded with a top place or commendation.

– How are you preparing for the shows?

My prep for the online shows has been quite different from an actual show as I have concentrated on making items to sell in my Etsy shop.  My stock of kits has greatly depleted because there is no pressure to have full stock at an actual fair. 

– If someone is just starting out with Petit Point in miniature and thinking about creating miniatures, how and what would you advise them?

My first recommendation would be to research the competition and find your unique style.  Ask yourself, what could you offer that others perhaps don’t.   Do your research on possible materials.   If at first, you don’t succeed… persevere!  Ignore the doom merchants.  Don’t expect to get rich quick (if ever).  Follow your passion!

– What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Silk gauze!!

– Who/What are your biggest influences?

My mum, she was a brilliant seamstress.  Daphne Turner, who died in 2005 was a huge influence.  She produced the finest, most detailed, inspirational pieces and was the first and one of the very few artists to work on an incredible 112 count silk gauze.  She offered tremendous encouragement to me when I first started out.

– What keeps you up at night?  

What happens when I am too old or blind to see?

– How would you describe your current project to someone at a dinner party that is never heard of you and your work?

I would say that I am designing and micro stitching a 12th scale copy of an antique carpet for a wealthy, collector’s doll’s house.

– Where do you get an inspiration for your ideas from?

 Ideas can come out of the blue but mostly from the internet, books, and historical houses.

– What does your Artwork represent? Does your Artwork represent something about you?

Yes, probably. I love attention to detail, I have a great sense of colour, I can be impatient (hence, not always finishing a chart, before I start stitching), and a bit untidy!  (my backs are never perfect!)

– What/How did you have to develop, try, or learn to create your Artwork?

My work has progressed naturally as I have gained confidence in my abilities and received praise from my contemporaries. I always strive to improve.

– What does your Art mean to you?

Life would be very dull without it. 

– What gives you the most joy?

Starting a new, exciting commission and positive feedback from happy customers.

– Professionally, what is your goal?

My goal would be to continue my enjoyment of this unique profession with the passion I have always had for it.

 

– What is/are your weakness/es?

I am a bit of a workaholic.  I wish I had an army of elves to help with the housework!

– What is the best thing about being an artist?

The best thing is to be able to combine your passion with your full-time job and not feel as though your talents are being wasted.

– What is your strongest memory of your childhood?

Holiday with my Granny and making things!

– What is your favorite dish/recipe/food?

I love Indian, Thai, and Italian food.  I have a penchant for shellfish.  But, most of all, a good British roast dinner with lashings of gravy!

– What superpower would you have and why?

I would love to have more hours in the day and ten pairs of arms and perhaps supersonic eyesight!

– Who/What does challenge you? What is challenge for you?

I would like to try stitching finer than 83 count, but I haven’t yet found suitable means of magnification.

– What is your dream project?

 I am not sure what it would be, but I have certainly had some dream projects in the past, one being the commissions for Ham House.

  

– Favorite or most inspirational place?

I love wandering around the grounds of Longleat House, local to me. On a day when it isn’t crowded with tourists, it can be a most tranquil, beautiful place.   Waddesdon Manor, in Buckinghamshire is another favorite and a source of inspiration, filled with beautiful carpets, tapestry upholstered chairs etc.  Rome and Vatican City for its architecture.   Best of all, the Greek Islands for complete relaxation.  Too many to mention.

– Do you listen to music when you are working on a project? If yes, what are you listening to?

Being a musician, I find music too distracting when I am working and prefer to have Radio 4 in the background.

– Where does your support come from when you “hit a wall”?

Never really ‘Hit the wall’ but I get great support from immediate family and close friends.

– What are you most proud of to date?

Probably my winning 2019 Pima entry.

– If you were completely start over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing.

You can find Nicola’s work at

www.nicolamascallminiatures.co.uk

www.etsy.com/shop/nicolamascall

All images and information are published with the artist’s permission and all copyrights are reserved.

2 Comments on “Meet an artist Nicola Mascall

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