I first came across the work of Cathy LeVitre on Instagram when I saw a photo of her colorful punch needle stockings hanging on the mantlepiece in her living room. Looking at her feed I immediately wanted to step inside the world she has created, where her quirky punch needle pillows, stockings, rugs, artwork and upholstered stools blend perfectly into her art-filled, maximalist home!
In this interview, Cathy talks about her love of art and color, her inspiration and the joy she finds in her work. Read on to be inspired by her words and her work!
Tell us a little bit about your creative background. What led you to the work you do today?
In college I studied music (I’m a pianist and harpist) but I have always loved art. My grandpa, my dad and my uncle own an art gallery and I grew up thinking it was the most magical place (I still think it’s the most magical place @anthonysfineart) As a kid I was always redesigning my room or trying to get my parents to redecorate the house in crazy ways. One time I convinced them to paint the front door bright primary color blue- it was terrible and they let me do it anyway. My parents and my husband have always been amazingly supportive with all of my insane endeavors. They’ve always pushed me to do more, go bigger, go crazier.
How did you get started with Punch Needle? What about this technique appealed to you?
I was at a little shop that was selling Halloween pillows that were punchneedle embroidery and I was obsessed with the texture and look of them. It took me about two months to figure out what punchneedle was- I had no idea how to look it up and no one I talked to knew what I was talking about. When I finally got my first crappy needle from Amazon and some burlap - I was hooked.
We'd love to hear about your creative process. How do you come up with new ideas? What inspires you? Do you have any practices or processes around this?
I am ALWAYS collecting photos of things that inspire me- so many random things! I have hundreds of art books and kids books that I look at daily. There’s always something new that grabs my attention. I also love buying random pieces of thrifted furniture- I have a whole stash of random stools, chairs, frames and pillows that are just waiting to have something crazy added to them. Sometimes I’ll find a ball of yarn or a foot stool and immediately know exactly what I’m going to do with it.
How has your work evolved over time?
I’ve learned to let go of what I thought my limits were and what other people think and now I just make anything I can think of that makes me happy.
What is your favorite part about the work that you do?
I love the end result. I always look at the stuff I’ve created and think, “I created that weirdness” and it makes me smile!
What do you hope others see / gain / take away from your work?
I just want people to create or express all the weird and fun ideas they have. Who cares if anyone likes it or not. There is so much reward in creating something.
Tell us about a favorite piece that you worked on, or one that had a lot of meaning to you.
I made a couple strange eye pillows that just make me laugh. I move them around the house on different pieces of furniture and it instantly gives them life and personality- like weird muppet creatures. I can’t get enough of them!
What punch needle materials and tools do you use? Do you have any favorite supplier recommendations for tools, material or yarn?
I love using the Oxford punch needle (who doesn’t?!) and I get most of my yarn second hand. I go to thrift stores every day with my mom and grandma- it’s our hobby and passion!- they always have great deals on yarn and sometimes even fabric. I like to have tons of colors on hand. I LOVE color. I feel like having all of my yarn out where I can see it sparks ideas and fun or interesting color combination.
What advice do you have for other artists or creatives looking to try punch needle?
If an idea makes you smile, or giggle, or feel something- Just do it! Dive in! Even if its terrible! Chances are if you like it, someone else will.
Where do you see your work going in the future?
I have absolutely no idea! I have so many ideas of where I want to go with it and they all pull me in crazy different directions.
What is something that you are excited or curious about these days?
I love the idea of making a sculpture or a huge piece. Like huge hands coming out of the ceiling or floor. I have to admit- I have a thing for hands in art- they have their own emotion and language that I just can’t get enough of. I’m aware that’s weird!
How can the punch needle community support you and your work?
I love talking with other artists and understanding their process and I LOVE seeing what other people create. I think that when artists have the courage to share their art - that act alone is a huge inspiration and a great push for other artists- or aspiring artists to create. It’s like the best game of dominoes and I’m excited to be a part of it.
What are 3 other fun facts about yourself that you would like to share with the Punch Needle Community?
Ooof, I’m terrible at these and I have no idea if we can call them “fun”. Ok.
I speak Portuguese!
I think almost everything I own in my house is second hand.
I can never come up with a third thing!
To learn more about Cathy and see more of her work, follow her on Instagram!