It's worth mentioning that if I don't feel absolutely sick to my stomach when I've finished a bit of thread art, and I wouldn't rather stab myself in the eye than do the same design again, then I know I haven't done the best I can possibly do.
It's hard work. It takes, creativity, skill, and ... well it's just hard work.
There are supplies involved too:
Bondaweb for making any cut out fabric pieces stay where you put them until you can sew them there (it also tends to make the applique stand up to abuse better so essential for carriers in my opinion)
Special embroidery needles to get the best results.
The expensive glossy thread which costs £3.50 a reel and makes the art work look so special (so that's £3.50 per colour change/colour used)
And of course there is all the wear and tear to my sewing machine, iron (you should see what a bit of bondaweb can do an iron :-O ), ironing board, scissors, etc
But mostly, it's about time.
Coming up with an idea of what to do, an idea of how to do it, working out the layout (especially trying to make it work and fit on a carrier), tracing or copying any pictures that you're using, maybe finding those pictures to use in the first place and printing them out to use, cutting out the shapes you've traced onto the bondaweb, ironing it to the fabric, cutting it out again, ironing it to the base/background/carrier - and that's all before you can even start *thinking* about sewing it!
Then there is the sewing!
All my stuff is hand steered. With appliques and satin stitch I allow the machine to drive the fabric, but I still have to steer it. With the free-motion embroidery it's all me - the feed dogs on the machine are down, the pressure foot is removed and I sit there moving fabric back and forth as the needle goes up and down to colour in the area I'm embroidering - in fact the Americans call free-motion embroidery "thread painting". I love this! It's so literal and such a good description as that is essentially what it is - using the thread to paint a picture.
This takes hours and hours to do. I'll post a few pictures and give you a rough idea of how long each one took me at the bottom of this post.
It dangerous too! Honestly, it's only a matter of time before I sew through a finger, but I find I get better results without a darning foot so I use a naked needle. I'm so brave.
This is something that takes practice and a certain amount of creative flair and ability.
Would I get better results if I used an embroidery machine? Well, possibly, but my stuff wouldn't be as unique as it is. It wouldn't have the little flaws which somehow always end up adding that extra dimension that makes the art truly amazing.
Would an embroidery machine be quicker? Well, probably. And in fact, even if it weren't quicker, I would be able to get on with other things while it did the work.
But would that make it cheaper? Well, since the embroidery machine I want has a price tag of £5,299.00 I'm going to say no. Hey, I'd have to make that machine pay for it's self some how right?
So there you have it. When you pay me for art work you are paying me a small amount for supplies but mostly for my time and my skill. I mean if it were quick and easy you'd just do it yourself wouldn't you ;-)