Kim Springhall delicate, exquisite, timeless
On arrival at Kim Springhall’s historic and picturesque Queenslander home, you are greeted by Buster, the 5-month old pup. He has free reign over the meandering gardens, an orchestrated tangle of colour, vine-covered sheds and aesthetically-placed vintage treasures. He is quite familiar with negotiating the log “bridge” over the gully that isolates Kim’s studio from the main house.
It’s the studio of your dreams. An old church, complete with original leadlight windows, provides a quiet light-filled haven where Kim spends many hours… it’s a treasure trove of collectible memorabilia, stored in pidgeon-holed cabinets, of adorned vintage mannequins, of wooden boxes brimming with accumulated threads, ribbons, beads and buttons that are regularly auditioned to complete her many projects (no UFO’s!!).
Her love of stitching was sparked when she was 8 years old, secretly loving the compulsory sampler she had to do in sewing class. From there, she made and embellished her own clothes before tackling her first quilt… untutored, she made this quilt “outside in”, starting with the outside edges and working towards the middle…. a kindly friend diplomatically advised her to take classes.
Those classes were the turning point. Today, she is a prolific stitcher, mastering many stitching styles. A self-confessed task-orientated perfectionist, Kim believes that with maturity comes the realisation that it’s the process, the effort you take to prepare and the effort you put in along the way on each project that reaps the reward of a pleasing end…. although if she considers that the end is not quite perfect, she will worry at it like a terrier until it is.
I think we’d all agree that she pretty much achieves perfection!
Q. A quote from INSPIRATIONS magazine: “The rhythm of the stitch soothes your senses, lifts your spirit, nourishes your soul and ignites your passion”. Is this you?
A: Being a perfectionist, I’m not sure ‘soothing the senses’ fits how I feel when working on a project. There is a lot of problem solving involved in the process, which can sometimes make me feel a bit daunted, particularly at the start. But definitely my spirits feel lifted when my solution works and my passion for my craft is then ignited to motivate me to see it to the end. I tend to be quite hard on myself, but certainly finishing a project to my own exacting standards nourishes my soul.
Q. Kim, your work is exquisite, elegant, intricate…. how would you describe your style?
A: I enjoy working from patterns, I don’t feel particularly confident about the design process, so I tend to avoid the stress of trying to create an original design. That way I can get to the actual stitching… I love the stitching process. I am naturally drawn to pastels, romantics – pinks, purples, pale greens – sometimes, when I have tried to step outside my “norm”, intending to experiment with different colour palettes, I find that, without realising, I’ve reverted back! For me, having a pre conceived idea before I start isn’t necessarily satisfying, if I can’t get my stitches to co-operate so that it is exactly as I have it in my head, I can sometimes feel disappointed in the final product.
Q. Do you experiment and create different designs?
A: For me, it’s was always about the stitching. The process. But after a workshop with Jenny Clouston, I began to create. Jenny is a wonderful teacher, and she helped me to consider the design, composition and colour balance. They say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I have found the stitching groups I belong to are like that village…. with the help and involvement of others, there is always someone who can guide you, or help you on the journey.
Q. Does your style/ colour palette change with your mood?
A: No. I am usually obsessed with my project. On the rare occasion I don’t feel like stitching, or am between projects, I’m in my garden – but the process is the same. I’ll reposition, “audition” plants in different locations and worry at my garden until I’ve achieved just the right look.
Q. What is the one piece that you would never part with?
A: My stumpwork butterflies
Q. What can we look forward to seeing in “The Gentle Arts” exhibit at this year’s Q&C Spectacular? What type/style of embroidery will you be displaying?
A: I’ve been very busy in the lockdown! I’ll be showing thimble containers, needle bags, blankets, drawstring bags and more using various stitches like stumpwork, surface embroidery, wool and ribbon embroidery, blackwork and thread painting… but not the crazy patchwork clutch purses, they’re being saved for my daughter’s wedding. She’ll have one and I’ll have the other. These, along with the rest of my work that hasn’t been gifted to friends, I hope will become family heirlooms.