By Taryn Newton-Gill
Delaney Thornton has had some crazy college spring breaks. The craziest one she ever had? When she went home to Nashville and announced to her mom that she wanted to try her hand at needlepoint. Later that week her mom bought her an embroidery kit from Target and she started to go wild with her newfound needlework hobby. But it wasn’t until she finished her first piece a year later and went shopping for her own embroidery supplies that Delaney fell in love with the Aida cross-stitch fabric used in counted cross-stitch. “I ended up loving to create my own patterns on grid pattern [which is] old-school. My grandmother and aunts always created cross-stitch art, and it was around me a lot. I imagine that had something to do with it…I would say needlework is popular in Nashville, it is truly a town of all talents.”
Although she now lives in Medford, Oregon, this Tennessee talent seems to run in Delaney’s family, along with a love of dirty humor and a propensity for fun. When Delaney decided she wanted to turn her new love of cross-stitching into a business, she thought long and hard about what to call it, eventually landing on Stitch & Giggles. The name is a pun on “shits and giggles,” a favorite phrase her mom used when she was growing up, and that Delaney describes as, “when something is so dumb and funny you just fall out.”
Appropriately, Delaney’s signature style is a perfect blend of tongue-in-cheek humor (think delicate red and pink flowers above the words “Fuck Off”), along with more wholesome, inspirational messages like “Love Yourself.” A reoccurring drinking theme shows up in Delaney’s work as well, with pieces like, “Forget Men, Drink Wine” and “Drinks Well with Others.” She says, “I love making people laugh, [and] I love drinking and dirty humor. I also struggled with depression and self-loathing when I was younger. I know how important humor and self-love can all be wrapped into one. Laughter is the best medicine.” And of course, pieces such as “Dogs Welcome, Human’s Tolerated,” inspired by her four year-old black lab, Princess Peach, who Delaney calls, “the best cuddle bug in the world,” make everyone feel better, too.
The cross-stitch pattern that Delaney uses to bring these personality-packed designs to life is called “hoop art,” where “a piece [is] left in the hoop [that] you are supposed to use only to stitch in. It’s far more modern of a technique. Everything my grandmother or aunt made was finished perfectly in a frame. Hoop art is also a slang I love to use and #hashtag.” When comparing hoop art to traditional embroidery, Delaney says, “Embroidery is much harder to me than cross-stitching…I love to blend the two mediums and use embroidery florals.”
Now would be a good time to pause and acknowledge that counted cross-stitch isn’t traditionally an art form with much appeal to the young. In fact, an image of an old woman knitting in a rocking chair by the fire may very well come to mind when you think of it. However, Delaney wants you to know: “It’s not just what your grandma made anymore! The stitch community is awesome. I am among some amazing, talented, philanthropic, creative, wonder men and women who stitch. I think it’s really cool when people know what cross-stitch or embroidery is - and have a respect for it.”
But Delaney’s favorite part about her work (which she sells in her Etsy shop) is the connection she makes with her customers. “I feel so great creating pieces that end up with someone for a long time. I love creating custom pieces (but also do originals). I enjoy knowing someone bought a piece for someone else as a gift. When I create customs, they can be for a baby shower, wedding announcement, birthday gift, etc. I get to connect with these people through art. It’s so amazing to collaborate with someone to create one idea. Showing the final piece gives you this fulfillment that’s unmatched.”
Making the transition from hobby to business is never easy, and even with her light-hearted attitude, this Southern belle knows #thestruggleisreal for any creative entrepreneur. “I had really bad imposter syndrome for a while where I didn’t really call myself an artist. It truly took my RAW show, selling all my tickets, and having a grand success and response to truly get me to shake that.”
So what advice does Delaney have for artists wanting to shake their own fears and make the deep dive into an artistic career? “Fucking do it! Why not? You won’t know until you try. Starting up can be a little costly depending on what it is exactly that you are getting into, but I would say bite the bullet and go for it!”
In other words, take a tip from Delaney and get crazy, y’all!