Our tête-à-tête this month is with Sara Trucksess of @sct_designs. Sara is married and has 4 young sons and lives in Kansas City. She has always been involved with needlepoint in one way or another most of her life. When I first started following Sara, I was immediately taken with her use of vibrant colors and her range of designs. It was such a fresh breath to see such fun, cheerful canvases. I'm not sure how it started but we eventually started chatting online and I am absolutely delighted that she agreed to do the tête-à-tête for us this month.
I come from a long line of artists and fiber artists: needlepointers, knitters, quilters, designers, and painters. I was always surrounded by some type of productive crafting as a child and I participated with great joy. I can first remember knitting sweaters for my dolls with my grandmother, followed by needlepointing a pillow for my bedroom around age 8 or 9. My grandmother was an artist and we painted together nearly every day of every summer. My mom is also an artist who used to design needlepoint canvases before I was born. I picked up needlepoint again as an adult in late 2018/early 2019 when I finally felt like I had a modicum of free time after years of raising a whole pile of boys. Trying to find time for yourself in the throws of parenting is complicated - there are such tiny pockets of time in which you find yourself suddenly free... 5 minutes in carpool line, 10 minutes while watching a kid splash around in the bathtub. I had been spending those stolen moments to myself pointlessly scrolling my phone. Needlepoint filled the void with a much more productive activity! I started designing my own canvases almost immediately after I picked needlepoint up again. I love the stitching, but I’m an artist at heart and I needed the freedom of blank canvas to make things look the way I wanted them to. I actually started free stitching designs on blank canvas first. I started painting them secondarily when people began requesting them.
2. Suddenly, there seems to be an explosion of your new canvases each one prettier than the next, appearing daily on Instagram. Do you have a seasonal schedule as to what you paint and when you want to release them? Give us some insight as to your painting schedule.
Oh gosh, thank you! This really has been my most fun career to date! I feel like I need to do a better job of planning ahead seasonally. I am frequently scrambling to figure out what day it is, let alone what month anymore. But typically, I feel most inspired by the season I’m in. So, for example, when holidays roll around, I finally get my head around holiday designs. I get to painting them and then I have them painted in volume with the help of my wholesale rep, @kcndesigners. With the delays we have experienced in the needlepoint industry this past year, that frequently puts designs out right on schedule for the following year’s holiday buying cycle. But truly by accident, not by design! I just paint what I’m thinking about at that moment. What you’re seeing come out now are things I painted last spring and summer that are finally arriving, all at once! I’ve set up camp in my dining room lately while all the boys have been home on and off with virtual school. From there I can help with homework, initiate other craft projects, deliver (endless) snacks and paint canvases all at the same time. It’s something I truly enjoy and would likely be doing every day no matter what. The fact that it has turned out to also be my job is the cherry on top!
I adore the collaborative nature of needlepoint. Every canvas that I paint is specifically made to be reinterpreted by someone else’s creative brain and I love seeing the colors and finishes people pick to make pieces their own. Collaborating with other designers has been a really fabulous creative exercise that helps me hone my million-and-one ideas into a direction I might never have considered before. And that is such a thrill to me! My very first collaboration with Janet Blyberg @jcb_stitches was an absolute delight. Janet and I used to work for the same photography curator at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. 20 years ago and getting to reconnect was an added bonus! Our buoy clutch will be making its wholesale debut via @kcndesigners next week. My collaboration with Lo Harris @loharris_art has also been such a joy. Her confidence and vibrancy are palpable and being able to introduce her to our needlepoint community has been a total privilege. Getting to delve into printed canvases with both @moorestitching and @unwind.studio has been such a wonderful way to bring more accessibility to our craft and I’ve been awed and thrilled by the initial success of my DIY knotted headband collaboration with darling blogger and needlepoint designer Krista Robertson of @pennylinndesigns. We are furiously working to get more headbands into everyone’s hands! I’ve also got a wholesale line of tartan headbands that were launched this past week that will be coming to your local shop via @kcndesigners. My friend Patricia O’Dell @mrsblandings_stitches and I have a floral collaboration arriving this spring that includes some of my most favorite canvases to date. And I also have some fun shop exclusives happening right now, with a new Year of the Ox ornament at The Needlepoint Clubhouse @stlneedlepoint, a great 21 Stitch Challenge kit at @kcneedlepoint and an exclusive line of fully kitted canvases with a brand new online shop called HappyStitching.com @happystitchingdotcom. I’m very excited about an upcoming collaboration with one of my very favorite interior design shops in the country and there are a few more partnerships that are in their infancy now with great potential for excellent collaborations soon. I can’t wait to share them all with you! I’m always excited to collaborate in new and interesting ways, so I hope to have even more projects with friends on the docket in the future. Even the messages people send me with requests and ideas for my regular line of canvases are something of a collaboration. I love to know what people want to stitch and then think about how to create them in my own way.
4. Can you tell us what’s in your stash and what are you stitching at the moment? Also, is there a favorite canvas that you have in your collection?
Right now I am trying to catch up on stitching a lot of my samples. This year, I would really like to expand my stash to include more designs from all the talented designer friends I have made over the past couple of years! I need this 4th kid of mine to go off to kindergarten and then I have big dreams of lying on my couch all day needlepointing anything I want whilst eating bonbons. Hahaha- yeah, right! I got canvases to paint and boys to feed!! But a girl can dream! I just finished stitching up the buoy clutch from my collaboration with Janet Blyberg @jcb_stitches and one of her darling buoy ornaments too. I have started working on my 21 Stitch Challenge sampler with @kcneedlepoint and I’ve also been cranking out headband sample canvases as fast as I can stitch lately! I’m hoping to stitch one of the Matisse canvases from @unwind.studio this spring. And then I’m considering some @moorestitching monogrammed pillows for my family room so I can throw away some other pillows that my kids have trashed... after that, some Christmas pillows, and then, who knows! I have a great tartan Westie canvas from Cat’s Cradle that I’d love to stitch before the next holiday season rolls around. We had a Westie for 14 years and the obsession does not go away! I have a lot of favorite canvases in my collection, which is why I think I have so many designs. How can I pick from all of the amazing patterns and colors the world has to offer? I love parts of all of them. But I think my favorite is probably the koi fish that was co-designed with my oldest son when he was in 7th grade. He came home with this fabulous fish drawing one day and it was just begging to be painted.
5. As a mother of 4 young boys, how and when do you find time to not only design, paint but also stitch all of your canvases?
Unfortunately I don’t get to stitch every design, which is why I am truly so delighted to see the finishes people share. Sometimes it’s the first time I’ve gotten to see something finished! But the short answer is: there’s never enough time in the day!! Somehow you just find time for the activities (and people) you love the most. I have always been entranced by fabric, color and pattern. I owned endless artist biographies, drawing and fashion design books as a child that I used to pore over and create from... it’s what I have always done in my free time. While life led me to practical artistic careers in museums, auction houses and more, I never lost that constant desire for creation in my daily life. Now, when I start rearranging my living room pillows and suddenly end up a down a rabbit hole of redecoration plans, needlepoint offers me the opportunity to create my own fabric, exactly as I want it, down to the last detail. Designing is both my stress relief and my joy. My boys are 14, 12, 9, and 4 now, and sometimes old enough to do lots of things around the house for themselves (with lots and lots of direction, although, darnit, still not the laundry!! Yet!!). I’m so grateful that a career in needlepoint allows me to be here for them while they still need me, and feed my own creative needs at the same time. I think it’s good for them to see me working on something I truly love. I definitely lose track of time when I get a good idea. It’s like a bee in my bonnet and I often can’t stop until I’ve seen it through to completion. I am so grateful for the help that @kcndesigners offers me with distribution. I would never be able to do it all alone, and I certainly haven’t been able to keep up with all the stitching either. But it’s all joy, even the parts I can’t get to right now, and in 2021 what can we all hope for but a little bit of happiness at home!