About Embroidery Designer Leah Nikolaou

About

Leah Nikolaou, Textile Designer, creates hand embroidered, pressed flower art and embroidery kits using mixed media.

Her inspiration comes from nature and her garden. She carefully selects the seeds she plants in her garden, favouring those that that produce lots of blooms, materials for her flower press. The flowers she presses herself, combining them with paper and stitch to tell her creative story.

Leah Nikolaou Designer

Leah’s love affair with embroidery began in her teenage years, she loved cross stitch  and remembers embroidering a t-shirt which had the image of a leopard and text which read, ‘animals matter.’  She also had fond memories of flower pressing when she was younger, using her sister’s flower press without her knowing.

Just as the little hand written memoir below describes, Leah’s love of pressed flowers was reignited after having her own curiously creative daughter. Having left her full time job, they spent a summer together collecting flowers, filling her toy flower press to the brim.  At the same time Leah had picked up embroidery again in her evenings and the fusion of the two unlikely materials of flower pressing and hand embroidery was born.
Leah Nikolaou Embroidery designer

Having an idea of the path she wanted to take, Leah’s design research informed her ideas further.  Embroidery is a craft where you traditionally use fabric and thread but the hand embellished artwork of Susanna Bauer who embroiders into leaves, opened her mind to contemporary uses of embroidery.

She then experimented stitching paper stickers onto huge rubbery brown leaves but it felt too similar to other artists work and didn’t use wool.  Leah loves chunky wool, having a background in hand knitting for Vogue Knitting and Rowan yarns plus an MA in Constructed Textiles from The Royal College Of Art, London.  She knew it would make her happy to use chunky wools in her design.

Leah Nikolaou Textile Designer

The next important inspiration that developed her style was the herbarium collections of early 17th Century botanists.  Notably the botanist George Clifford who presented his pressed flowers, specimens from his travels, in little 2D paper urns and vases. This method of displaying botanical pressings are archived by the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London a resource Leah loves for inspiration! 

Leah Nikolaou Embroidery

As the mix of her two hobbies has continued her style has evolved into the work you see today.  Leah designs from her home in the rural setting of Frome in Somerset where she also uses her little garden to grow many of the flowers that she dries in her flower press.  Just like an artist might use a paintbrush, Leah uses page upon page of flowers to add colour to her world.