Saltie Crafts - With Olga Prinku
Date Updated: 21/11/2022
A long time Instagram obsession for Team Salt-Water, we’re excited to introduce you to Olga Prinku for our next Saltie Crafts session. Olga started creating her beautiful tulle embroidery in 2016. What started as a dream (literally) became her epic embroidery empire, with a legion of fans that follow her every stitch. Over to Olga to tell us more about her story…
Your craft is so precious. How did you get into tulle embroidery?
Thank you! I loved making wreaths as a hobby, and one day I used a garden sieve as a frame for a wreath, securing the twigs to the mesh for extra stability. That night I dreamed about a dress with real flowers in it, and I woke up wondering if it would be possible to find a fabric that flowers could be attached to in the same way as the mesh on the sieve. I thought about tulle fabric and embroidery hoops when I was in a haberdashery shop, and started experimenting…
You previously worked as a graphic designer. Do you see any parallels between that and your embroidery?
Definitely. In both graphic design and creating floral embroidery what I enjoy most is the creativity and experimentation – when you initially come up with an idea you’re often not sure if it can be made to work, then you play around with it until you’re happy with how it looks. And there’s a direct parallel - in that in graphic design I did a lot of typographical work, and now I’m doing flowers-on-tulle botanical letters.
You work with dried flowers and have an array of them in your studio (all beautifully organised). Do you have any particular favourites?
I usually start each new piece without a clear plan for how it will look, but with a colour palette in mind – so I’ll lay out some suitable flowers in that palette that I can choose from as I go along. It does depend a lot on mood, and often I’ll choose a palette inspired by the season. But I do have some perennial favourites, notably statice, strawflowers and acroclinium – they’re among the easiest to work with and they work with a lot of different aesthetics.
Your creations feel very folkloric. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Although I’ve lived in Britain for a long time now, I was born in the Republic of Moldova during Soviet times, so growing up I had a lot of exposure to cultural influences from both Russia and Romania – for much of its history, Moldova has been part of Romania. There are definitely similarities in my work to traditional dress from the region, which has intricate hand-woven embroidery, and I also draw on Khokhloma, which is a traditional Russian folk art used in handicrafts.
You work with colour so beautifully. Are there any colours that you always feel drawn to?
I actually really enjoy working in a monochrome palette as it focuses your mind in getting all the shapes and pattern perfect without colour for distraction. But often I find myself working with colours that are quite close to each other in the spectrum – so for instance I might choose a palette of yellows and oranges and reds. One great thing about working with natural materials is that because we’re so used to seeing them in nature, it’s actually quite difficult to choose colours that won’t look good together.
How long can a basic embroidery take?
I’ve found that I can’t rush, because if I’m feeling anxious to make progress that often makes me clumsy and I end up snapping flowers and needing to redo things. It’s rare that I finish a project in less than a couple of days, and the most complex ones can take weeks.
What would your dream commission be?
I’d love to work with a fashion house to create a dress interwoven with real flowers, like in the dream which first set me off down this path. Or perhaps do floral clocks - something I have experimented with before. I always thought that perhaps one day I will do a repeating pattern and that could be photographed and translated into wallpaper.
If someone wanted to try their first tapestry, where do you recommend starting?
You can find embroidery hoops and tulle fabric easily in craft shops or online, and it’s becoming increasingly easy to find dried flowers in shops and online. But for me a lot of the joy also comes in foraging for natural materials and drying them myself. The technique is easier to demonstrate visually so I created some video tutorials for people who’d like to have a go. You can find them in my website!
You have a few different series. Do you have a particular favourite that you most enjoy creating or does each bring a different joy?
What I enjoy most of all is trying something new – whether that’s working with a new kind of flower or natural material, or trying to achieve a new shape, or working with a different shape of canvas such as the surround for a clock. I love to challenge myself and experiment to see what is possible to achieve. Of course, not all the experiments work, but that’s part of the fun.
What are you making at the moment?
I’m currently working on a series of designs for hoops that will form part of a DIY kit that I’m creating with a dried flower company – the plan is that the kits will contain all the necessary materials and design suggestions to make a hoop as well as some other fun items. If you’d like to keep updated on when we’re ready to launch, please do sign up to my email newsletter – the link is on my website.
Thank you Olga! To read more #SaltieCrafts head to our Journal page to hear from other amazing makers.