Jane Nichols graduated with degrees in Interior Design and Art Education and has been designing needlepoint since the early 1970’s, when she worked as a canvas painter and designer for a local shop in Naples, Florida. Later she opened her own shop specializing in custom designed crewel and hand painted needlepoint canvases. This business evolved into a custom design studio and then into a wholesale business. Her lovely needlepoint designs can be seen on her website.
She has taught for shops, local EGA and ANG chapters, and regional Guild seminars. Jane also occasionally writes for needlework publications including Needlepoint Now magazine, with her designs appearing on numerous covers.
Although the company does not sell directly to the public, Jane’s hand painted canvases are available from your local needlework shop, or you may order the canvases you like from any of the fine retailers on he websites where to buy list.
Jane's Interview, continued...
When did you first start doing needlepoint, and what inspired you to start?
I first started learning needlework as a young child. I believe that my mother taught me to stitch so that I would have something to do that would help me to sit quietly, but I did not learn needlepoint until much later, when I was hired by a shop to paint canvases for their wholesale line. I needed to learn the basics so I could understand how to properly paint the designs onto the canvas. I was self taught, because I am left-handed, and none in the shop could figure out how to go about teaching me. After nearly completing the first small piece (an owl) primarily in basketweave, I couldn't resist adding another stitch for interest, (leaf stitch for the wing feathers) so I guess that's when my needlepoint designing career began.
What is your main source of inspiration?
My inspiration comes from various sources. Many times in the process of working up a custom design for someone, my mind wanders to what I would do with the idea if I were designing it for myself, so when I have finished the custom design, I re-do it my way and often that leads to other ideas. You will see many series of designs in my work that were developed just that way - variations on a theme. I also draw on nature and sometimes just a word or a song will give me an idea. And, sometimes silliness just takes over.
How many hours per day do you stitch?
Right now I don't stitch nearly as many hours as I'd like to be able to. I wish I could stitch any time I feel like it, but when needlepoint became a business for me, stitching time became a luxury. The number of hours varies from day to day. I guess that I'm involved in some form of the design process pretty much all of the time. I keep paper everywhere to sketch or write down ideas that come to me while driving, shopping - even sleeping. Often the best ideas pop into my head in the shower. Then, when I'm developing the ideas into actual designs I will sit at my drawing board for hours reworking until I achieve what I have envisioned.
Is there another needlepoint designer whose work influenced or encouraged you to start designing?
My favorites have changed over the years. Usually they are whatever I have just finished doing. Also, doing this as a business, my favorites are often those designs that sell best, so I guess you could say that my favorites are my customers' favorites. If I have to choose, I guess my favorites would be the giraffe series. They have been with me for so long and the series is still growing. Each one I design is right there keeping me company throughout the process. When I paint them I complete the eyes first. As soon as I put in the little highlight they come to life. I was originally most influenced by the customers who I designed for. Their requests for custom designs gave me a feel for what people were looking for, and for what was needed that wasn't available. Later, I discovered and much admired Dede Ogden's whimsy and rich colors and shadings, and Peter Ashe's meticulous precision.
Do you belong to a needlework club or guild?
In the past I've been very active in both the Embroiderers' Guild of America and the American Needlepoint Guild. I moved recently and there are no chapters of the guilds close by, so right now I am not as active.
Do you teach as well?
I have taught for several chapters of both EGA and ANG, and at regional seminars for EGA. I have also taught some classes for adult education and for numerous needlework shops.