Pattern Players: A Closer Look at the Anthropomorphized Embroidery of Coral & Tusk's Stephanie Housley
One of the best parts about autumn - and especially Thanksgiving - is how it forces us to turn our attention away from technology, work responsibilities, and life's hassles and notice - even if just for a moment - the beauty of the natural world around us. From the changing foliage and crisp air to the bustling wildlife readying their nests for the season ahead, nature seems to demand our attention each fall for its final show before the cold stillness of winter. And to us, no one better captures the splendor and whimsy of this magical time than Stephanie.Stephanie is the owner and unstoppable creative force behind Coral & Tusk, whose gorgeous embroidered textiles grace everything from pillows and napkins to furniture and clothing. Her anthropomorphized animal characters and nature-inspired patterns add instant charm and warmth to any space, and we've yet to see a home that wasn't made more beautiful and inviting by their presence (in fact, we admire Stephanie and her work so much that we included her in #HyggeandWestBook!). Below, Stephanie shared about her products, her favorite Thanksgiving traditions, and put together a fabulous Coral & Tusk and Hygge & West Product + Paper pairing.Hygge & West: What inspires your work? What is your design and creation process like?
Stephanie Housley: My inspiration comes from everywhere, but mostly, animals, travel, and nature. My love and fascination with the natural world is abundant and obvious in almost every design. Spending time watching any wildlife do anything is a source of much enjoyment, and here in Wyoming there is ample opportunity to do so!As for my design process, I am constantly gathering information and ideas through a variety of ways: looking at magazines and blogs, finding a theme that I research and look through many books about. We usually create two collections a year, so when we go into development mode, whatever is most exciting from the general gathering gets explored further and we begin thinking of ideas visually of what we are thinking to create. Then I do a pencil drawing to scale, then create the embroidery stitch by stitch.H&W: What attracted you to embroidery and what quality do you think it lends to your work?
SH: My background. All the women in my family had some kind of handiwork project in their hands when they were not maintaining the family and house. My great grandmother made lace, my grandmother made dolls, and my own mom would make any project together with me as a kid. I have always loved to draw and embroidery was something I just fell in love with at a really young age. I do not know how to technically embroider - I have always taken a drawing with thread approach. I love how the tactile nature of thread and fabrics bring my drawings and patterns to life.H&W: Do you have any favorite products for the fall and winter holidays?
SH: We love our Desert Collection for our main line of products and the Cross Country Skiers collection for holiday.Since moving to Wyoming, the landscape has inspired and informed my work in new ways. Both collections started during my first winter here. On the one hand, I don’t love being cold, and dreaming about the desert and researching the flora and fauna of the American Southwest was one way to escape the freezing temperatures and snow. I also learned to look at winter in a new way and appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the season. Our Cross Country Skiers collection is inspired by winter activity and celebrates the season, rather than trying to escape it!H&W: Thanksgiving is just around the corner. If you could set your dream Coral & Tusk Thanksgiving table, what would you use?SH: Our Homecoming design is inspired by Thanksgiving gatherings and the harvest season. I would set the table with our Homecoming table runner and add our corresponding Homecoming dinner napkin and Pinecone Bison dinner napkin. Maybe even throw in a few Feathers cocktail napkins for a full fall look!H&W: Tell us about the product and paper pairing you've chosen. Is there a story behind this product? What about it do you think pairs well with the pattern and colorway you've chosen?
SH: Our Berber Indigo and Souk Indigo pillows are inspired by the textiles and architecture found in North Africa. The geometric design on each pillow is composed of thousands of hand-drawn stitches.
Gold is my go-to and I love how our Indigo fabric pairs with the Carved Ogee Gold wallpaper designed by Karla Pruitt. Both our pillows and the paper require a closer look to see the special mark-making details!H&W: Hygge is about more than just physical coziness - it's about emotional and spiritual coziness as well. Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions that bring the hygge to your holiday?
SH: In recent years, my husband Chris and I have traveled with our family for the holiday, which has been a new and fun tradition for us. A couple of years ago we stayed in the Blue Ridge Mountains and before that we visited the Smoky Mountains. We don’t plan to travel this year, but are feeling thankful to spend the holiday at our home in Wyoming, with the mountains in our own backyard!
All photography by Will Ellis