Discover the artistry of Chloe O'Malley
Creating beautiful artwork is Chloe O’Malley’s passion. What came as a surprise was how warmly her cannabis flower embroidery hoops would be received. Now she can hardly fill demand. But she’s not about to ramp up; embroidery is about slowing down a bit and appreciating the process.
Heads Lifestyle: Heads discovered you through your stunning cannabis flower embroidery hoops. How did you come to embroidery? Is it a family tradition or an interest you developed on your own?
Chloe O’Malley: It was most definitely an interest that developed from doing Art and Textiles throughout school and college. My appreciation for embroidery has grown over the years and now I can’t imagine ever not doing it!
Photos ~ Left: Chloe working on one of her unique creations. Right: Sour Diesel
HL: You are also a tattoo artist. You clearly have a talent for creating with needles and colour. What came first the embroidery or the tattoos?
CO’M: I would say the tattoos came first! My step-dad is a tattooist so I grew up around tattooing, drawing and working in his tattoo shop from a young age. At one point embroidery took over for a while but now I try and keep a happy balance between the two art forms.
Photos ~ Left: Acorn tattoo Right: Black & White tattoo designs
HL: You design your own creations from embroidery and tattoos to painting and pins. Have you always been an artist, did you study art formally or is it something that was always in you?
CO’M: From a very young age I always gravitated towards drawing and experimenting with different crafts. Creating has been such a huge part of my life and I’m at my happiest when I’m tattooing or doing embroidery. I always knew I wanted to be an artist and I did study Art and Textiles throughout school and college. About 8 years ago, I decided to apprentice under my step-dad and learn how to tattoo. I feel like it’s the best thing I ever did and I haven’t looked back since. Embroidery has become something I try to do in my spare time and I’m definitely living the best of both worlds.
When I first made a cannabis embroidery the reaction I got was crazy
HL: Your cannabis hoops are playful little works of art and sell out so quickly. Who is your typical client? Did you foresee the hoops being so popular?
CO’M: When I first made a cannabis embroidery the reaction I got was crazy. People responded so positively; even the older generations that embroider quite traditional subjects left nice comments and messages about my work. It spurred me on to make more and I realised once I sold my first batch of cannabis hoops I had found a niche that people were really into.
I don’t think I have a typical client per se but I know the majority of the cannabis hoops are sold and sent out to America and Canada. I’ve sold a few in the U.K, China and other countries but I guess because it is so socially/culturally accepted in America and Canada, people are more willing to celebrate and support cannabis in all its forms.
Photos ~ Left: Blackberry Kush Right: Work in progress
HL: How did you come to cannabis? What sparked you to embroider your first cannabis flowers?
CO’M: I’m a recreational smoker and so are some of my friends and family. I have always had a relaxed, attitude towards cannabis and I wanted to convey this in my cannabis hoops. It was actually my partner who had a light bulb moment and suggested I embroider a cannabis plant. I made my first one for his birthday a while back and it sparked such a positive reaction on Instagram that it snowballed from there.
I have always had a relaxed, attitude towards cannabis and I wanted to convey this in my cannabis hoops
HL: You are U.K based and many of your hoops and tattoo designs look like they are straight out of an English garden. What inspires you? Where does your inspiration come from?
CO’M: I have a big passion for wildlife and nature that transcends into my work all the time, that is what inspires me to create. The U.K is full of amazing woodlands and countryside and I love nothing better then going for a walk and taking in all the sights and sounds of the great outdoors.
Photos ~ Left: Bee detail Right: Detail of a large floral hoop
HL: There is a renewed interest among millennials for traditional handicrafts like embroidery, crochet, and knitting. What do you think the appeal is? What does embroidery mean to you?
CO’M: In a world of technology and fast paced living I think it’s a natural human reaction to perhaps get back to basics, have quiet time and create something special and unique with your own hands. With embroidery each piece I make is quite time consuming so it has really helped me to take a step back, slow life down a bit and appreciate the process. It’s so rewarding to finish something you know you have put your heart and soul into and has sometimes taken weeks to make. I think embroidery has helped me have a different outlook on life.
HL: Cannabis is currently illegal in the U.K with changes only recently announced for medical access. Are your cannabis hoops political?
CO’M: In the U.K there has always been this huge stigma attached to cannabis so it has been a long time coming in taking that step in the right direction by recognising this plant’s healing properties without prejudice. We still have a long way to go to change people’s ideas and perceptions on what they deem as socially acceptable but I argue if smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol is deemed acceptable then so should consuming cannabis.
At first my cannabis hoops were just for fun, using an old fashioned craft like embroidery to stitch something controversial like cannabis
At first my cannabis hoops were just for fun, using an old fashioned craft like embroidery to stitch something controversial like cannabis. As my cannabis hoops have developed and with all the feedback I have received, I guess I want to try and take some of that stigma away and portray this beautiful, diverse plant in all its glory through embroidery.
Photos ~ Left: Pink Kush en route Right: Blue Dream
HL: You mentioned that textile artist Kaffe Fassett is one of your favourites. Have other artists influenced your creative journey?
CO’M: There are so many amazing embroidery artists killing it at the moment, I think people are starting to recognize embroidery as a true art form and appreciating the time and skill that goes into making a piece of work just like any other creative medium. When I came across Sarah K. Benning's work on Instagram and saw how she has literally turned embroidery on its head—that inspired me. She has a huge following and in my opinion has helped embroidery to become more current and accessible for people to think about trying it for themselves. She really found a niche that people seem to resonate with.
Other embroidery artists that are so skilfully amazing at their craft, have beautiful subject matter and simply just make me smile whenever I see their work are Chloe Giordano and Emillie Ferris.
Photos ~ Left: Embroidery floss Right: Embroidered creatures
HL: Have you tattooed any of your cannabis flower designs?
CO’M: No I haven’t! This is an idea I’ve had in my mind for a while now and I would love to tattoo some cannabis designs. I’ve had the odd enquiry but no one has followed through yet. People, come and get some cannabis flowers tattooed!!
HL: What are your other passions?
CO’M: I’d say my time is pretty much spent up with tattooing and embroidery but when I have time off I love going camping, big walks spotting nature and wildlife and I adore my two cats Luna and Mimi!