Magical. Cozy. Whimsical. Cute woodland critters. These are all words that come to mind when thinking about the holiday season. They also happen to be the same feelings stirred when we look at a piece of artwork from Coral & Tusk. Founder Stephanie Housley's handcrafted embroidery adorns everything from artwork to pillows to table runners to tiny tipis. And they sure do look good matted in our Natural Gallery Frames—keep scrolling for the pics to prove it. We recently sat down with Stephanie to learn more about the Brooklyn brand. While any piece from Coral & Tusk will keep its appeal all year round, we guarantee this is one holiday gift that will not disappoint.
Simply Framed: Why the name "Coral & Tusk"?
Stephanie Housley: We wanted to choose a name that evoked beautiful imagery and good luck. Since coral and tusk are both auspicious materials and both live on land and in the sea, it felt like the perfect combination. Our name is meant to honor keeping these precious materials intact in their natural habitat and being inspired by them, rather than harvesting them.
Where the magic happens! Stephanie in her studio. Photo by Coral & Tusk and Kate Lacey photography.
SF: Tell us about your process. How do you go from the idea for a piece of art to your finished product?
SH: I am constantly gathering information and ideas through a variety of ways: being in nature, looking at magazines and blogs or researching a concept or theme. We create two collections a year. All of us in the studio discuss what feels interesting to explore further. I’ll do a pencil drawing on paper of original artwork and then create the embroidery file stitch-by-stitch. We prototype when possible in Brooklyn, and then send the final file and color selection to India for initial sampling. Once approved we go into production with anywhere from 12 to 120 pieces. The pieces come back from India to our Brooklyn loft where they are finished by hand and shipped.
Stephanie creates another masterpiece. Photo by Coral & Tusk and Kate Lacey photography.
SF: What are you most inspired by in making your art?
SH: My inspiration comes from everywhere, but mostly from animals, travel and nature. My love and fascination with animals is abundant and obvious in almost every design I make. I am endlessly happy to ponder what any given animal might wear, where they might live, how they decorate this imaginary habitat, who their friends and family are, what they look like—on and on and on! And spending time watching wildlife is a source of much enjoyment. While traveling, wildlife observation is always a top priority, whether watching a squirrel from my Brooklyn apartment to watching a baby rhino snuggling his mom while I am riding an elephant in Nepal. I love it any and everywhere.
SF: How did the embroidered pieces grow out of your illustrations and why does the medium so suit your work?
SH: I come from a long line of Appalachian women who could make something of nothing. I never saw a woman in my family with idle hands. My great grandmother made lace. My grandmother made dolls. I’ve always done embroidery for fun, just little projects at night. I love that the process is drawing with thread. Drawing is my passion and embroidering those drawings makes them come to life. The tactile quality of stitches on cloth adds such a special spirit.
SF: Any fun Thanksgiving plans?
SH: My husband and I recently moved from Brooklyn, NY to Bondurant, WY! We spent all of last year searching for the perfect home and were blessed to land in the best place on the planet. What better way for us to spend Thanksgiving than in the place we are the most thankful for: Wyoming!