Digging Deeper with Taproot: Meet Contributor Jessica Long

In our Digging Deeper series we introduce you to some of the contributors in our upcoming issue TRADE. We hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at how some of the pieces came to be, and the stories behind these inspiring makers, doers, and dreamers.

Jessica Long is a new contributor to Taproot and we're excited to introduce her to you! You'll find her embroidery pattern "Be the Light" in the HANDS section of TRADE. Thanks to Jessica for taking the time to share these stories with us!

You haven’t always worked with embroidery. I understand you were a scientist first. How did you first discover embroidery and get started down this path?

Once I had my son I hung up my lab coat for the opportunity to be a stay at home mom.  When I finally caught up on sleep I realized my hands and heart were aching to get back into creating. Prior to becoming a mother I enjoyed oil painting during my down time but I found that art form challenging with a baby. A friend posted some of her embroidery work on social media and I was intrigued. I tried out a kit I purchased on Etsy and was immediately hooked! Two years later I am now designing my own patterns and kits and I can’t seem to put the needle down. I had every intention of eventually returning to the lab but now I am keeping my options open. I still have to pinch myself some days. I can’t believe I am actually getting paid to do art!

What was that transition like? Have you found any similarities between your past work and embroidery?

Challenging! I didn’t realize how caught up my sense of self was with my job in biotech until it was gone. Plus, being a first time mother of a young child was very difficult for me and I struggled with anxiety. Both the meditative arts of embroidery and yoga really saved me. Having a piece of myself outside of my new role as mother helped me to re-center. Now that my passion has grown from my own personal therapy into a business I am faced with new challenges.

Embroidery and Fermentation Science both require patience! Watching microbes grow can be about as exciting as paint drying and I am sure some people feel the same way about hand embroidery. I also try to approach embroidery with some scientific principles: always keep learning, try new things, be willing to admit when wrong and start over with a new approach, don’t fear being wrong as it is part of the process, share your findings with the community.

You’ve occasionally used your work to voice your political beliefs.  How do you approach incorporating political views into your art?  

I try to keep it minimal. Politics are extremely important, but so is a reprieve from the insanity! I create art and stitch to relax and make something beautiful. I try to share that sense of serenity to my followers on social media, to give them a little island of peace in their day.

What advice do you have to others out there who might be thinking of taking the leap, and trying out a new creative endeavor like you did?  

Don’t give up! And be sure to do something you love.  Give yourself space for your own personal art in addition to creating what your audience wants.  I often have to remind myself why I started stitching.   Without the followers and the sales I would still be here creating art.

What’s next? What projects do you have in the works right now?
Right now I am designing a limited holiday collection and hoping to start back on my Creative Ladies Series.  Business has been delightfully busy but as a result my own personal projects have been sitting in a dusty drawer for over a year now!  I am very excited to revisit them.

You can find more from Jessica at namastehandembroidery.com.