Artist Jessie James makes original, beautiful, and colourful tufted rugs in her Stonehouse studio. She tells Simon Pizzey about her background and her inspiration.
“Stroud is important to me because Stroud is where I was born and no matter where I go in the world it will always be my home. I’m very lucky to be somewhere where there is such a great art scene and such support for fellow artists, having moved back to Stroud I appreciate it a lot more.
“I hand make woollen rugs with my tufting gun; it is like a big drill that I use to ‘draw’ my designs in wool. It’s quite a physical job as my tufting gun is very heavy, it is like a work out tufting each rug. My tufting gun is attached to a compressor so it gives the rugs a really dense pile which is why they are so professional looking. I try to make my business as sustainable as possible; I use all UK products including deadstock wools, natural latex and try to have as little waste as I can.
“All of my rugs are one of a kind and totally unique, even when I do commissions, they are always a little different which is what makes them so special. Each rug has its own inspiration, from trips to the seaside, my childhood memories or my favourite sweets, every rug design I make has my all in it! I make all my rugs in my studio in a shed my dad built me at the bottom of my garden out of found wood and tin.
“I graduated from a Fine Art course at Camberwell 10 years ago and started making rugs over 4 years ago. I have always been drawn towards interior design, colour and the idea of functional art, so rug making is the perfect combination of all of them. I gave up my job around a year ago to do tufting full time, it has been hard but 100 per cent worth it.
“My favourite thing about Stroud is how individual it is and how great everyone is at supporting independent shops, cafes and artists. My favourite place in Stroud is Galgos, the tequeños are amazing! Stroud has so many wonderful independent businesses, I love A Brilliant Disguise for all things clothes and Sew and Sew for all your sewing needs.
“One of my favourite photo’s is this one of me and my mum Noela, she and my dad Mark are my biggest cheerleaders and support me so much! I think I must have been around 2 years old when this was taken, my family are very important to me and are such an inspiration. My mum, dad, brother Marcus and sister Nadine are all fantastic artists, it is nice to have such an artistic family where we can support each other.
“From the 3rd of May 2023 my sister, a painter, and I are having a joint show in the Landsdown Gallery titled ‘Sister Act’. You can find me sooner at my open studio on the 10th and 11th of December 10-4pm.
“More information can be found at my website under the events pages and my Instagram under @studiotuft.”