In connection with our up and coming embroidery workshop on the 27th of May (book your place now), we caught up with a leading name in the textiles and embroidery industry in London to find out what inspires his designs, what brought him to embroidery and basically what embroidery is all about!
Scott Gordon Heron works for an embroidery house in London called Hand & Lock who have been around for 250 years creating beautiful hand crafted pieces for royalty, the military, for film and television, and for fashion (read more about the Hand & Lock’s legacy here). He has been part of the Hand & Lock team for 7 years, and in this time he has worked his way up to Head of Design.
“My knowledge and understanding of the subject, technically and aesthetically has become vast after working professionally as first embroidery designer and later Head of Design”
Scott is now responsible for leading design projects and being accountable for the teams high performance. He liaises with important customers and provides a creative vision for the company, making sure they realise their design and principles.
What inspired you to become an embroidery designer?
I was inspired to pursue a career in textiles, and ultimately, embroidery after studying for several years in art and design at school and later in university. It was mainly in university where I had the opportunity to explore more with fabrics and experimented a little with a needle and thread. I had always been attracted to anything remotely ornamental, meticulous in nature. I had a high appreciation for the craftsmanship and skill level required to successfully accomplish the creative intentions of the designer. This lead me to hand embroidery, which I studied at university level and it was a very organic journey for me. However, before I really discovered embroidery to be my preferred medium, image and print took centre stage. My time spent with print still remains an important part of my work today.
What is your favourite embroidery technique?
I have always been drawn to gold work, and this is a technique we at Hand & Lock are very well known for. It is also one I greatly favour, mainly because of its rich history and that it is widely applied across several contexts. These span from ceremonial/ military and ecclesiastical, to interiors and even fashion and art. It is an extremely beautiful technique that requires a high skill level and has a homogenous aesthetic. It has a very regal quality, and can be mainly found on the uniforms of the military, on religious and royal ceremonial garments.
How would you describe embroidery, and how has it changed during the ages?
Embroidery alters, embellishes, distresses, adds, decorates, and adorns fabric. We often expect embroidery to be very decorative and ornamental, and traditionally this has been its main function over the centuries. It has been successfully harnessed as a communicative tool in displaying social and wealth status, and many similar notions that surround the idea of identity. Today, embroidery still does this to a certain level, but it is now also used in medical textiles. Scientists have discovered that embroidery can be used to conduct electricity through woven textiles. In specialist medical textiles, embroidery can be used as an aid to internally heal a human body in a safe and eco friendly way. It allows surgeons to unblock arteries and solve heart problems.
What do you most enjoy designing?
The most enjoyable part of designing for me, is the process of taking an idea or a concept and successfully translating it into a a finished embroidery piece.
How would you describe your own unique style?
I would describe my personal style as having a strong element of the realism and be technically challenging. I am strongly inspired by traditional embroidery, and I always aspire to achieve something that is original, innovative and aesthetically appealing whilst keeping the century old traditions alive.
What is your favourite design project to date, or the one you feel most proud of?
I would have to choose my first major embroidery commission that I lead in my position as Head of design. This was the embroidery for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee barge. I worked with several people in the College Coat of Arms, as well as production designers and buyers for the Thames River Pageant, the company in charge of the organisation for the event. I felt a great sense of pride seeing the hard work of myself and the fellow embroiderers surround the Queen as she and the Royal family proceeded down the Thames, attended by hundreds and thousands of members of the public. It was internationally televised, and as I stood on the millennium bridge that day watching the barge go past me, I knew that this was a once in a lifetime experience and one I will never forget.
Finally, what advice would you give to a beginner who is just starting out with textiles and embroidery?
I would recommend for any beginners in textiles, no matter what the discipline and whether it be print, embroidery or beading…to fully acquaint themselves with their materials and to experiment lots. To enjoy themselves and have pride in their projects, but not to be too precious or too much of a perfectionist. Skills and knowledge come with experience and time.