Represent! with Bianca Springer

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Bianca Springer was born and raised in The Bahamas, now lives in Pearland, Texas, with her husband and two children. She learned to sew as a child, but says motherhood cultivated her passion for the craft. Representation matters and Bianca always tries to honor that through her writings. Recently she wrote REPRESENT! an embroidery book that looks like you! It celebrates diversity with more than 50 embroidery motifs of people in a wide array of skin colors, body shapes, and natural hairstyles. No need for painstaking design alterations—you can simply jump right in and start stitching. These inclusive embroidery projects represent every kind of beauty; see yourself and your loved ones in these designs. Expand your embroidery and sewing skills while increasing your appreciation of others! Celebrate beautiful YOU!

Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English,  specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory and American slavery. She is the convener and founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. #Charlottesville. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.

Insights from this Episode

  • What does the word “represent” means to Bianca
  • Why does Bianca feel a strong urge to represent the black community in an unapologetic way
  • Bianca’s trajectory writing down her designs and patterns on blogs and  magazines
  • How was Bianca’s process to write her book
  • How Bianca’s character has been put to test in the industry
  • Bianca’s thoughts on community building
  • Bianca’s  “Represent!” book and its frames
  • What would Bianca say to a person that is looking to “get their stitch together”

Quotes from the Show:

  • “[About  the meaning of represent] It means authentically showing off as your true self or allowing people into your space so they can do that as well” – Bianca Springer in “Stitch Please”
  • “This is me stepping into a space, I am not whispering, I am not easing in, I am not trying to stand back and wait for you to acknowledge me, I feel like in my craft life and in the craft spaces I have been in as an introvert, I had been happy to do that” – Bianca Springer in “Stitch Please”
  • “We are the ones we have been waiting for” – Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “As someone who is trying to encourage others into craft, I want people to understand perfection is not the goal so if your work is less than perfect framing it elevates it. I’m highlighting the imperfection” – Bianca Springer in “Stitch Please”
  • “I say this book [Represent!] is for everyone, not about everyone” – Bianca Springer in “Stitch Please”
  • “Try something different and ask themselves two questions beyond their resistance, whatever thing is stopping you from advancing, ask yourself why and then why not and once you begin to explore that, you’re gonna get some stitches together” – Bianca Springer in “Stitch Please”

Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Bianca Springer

Website: https://thanksimadethem.com

Blog: https://thanksimadethem.blogspot.com/

Instagram: Bianca Springer

Book: Represent! Embroidery – C&T Publishing

Pinterest: Bianca Springer

Read Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: It's national sewing month and we are talking with Bianca Springer. Let's go. Are you a Patreon supporter? If not, why not supporting the Patreon helps us bring the podcast to you. So hit us up on the Patreon.
[00:00:18] Lisa Woolfork: Hello, stitchers. Welcome to stitch, please. The official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. I'm your host Lisa woo Fort. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20. Of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.
[00:00:45] Lisa Woolfork: Hello everybody. And welcome to the stitch police podcast. I am your host Lisa woo fork. And as I say every week, this is a very special episode because I am talking with Bianca Springer. Y'all. I made it. And so can you, Bianca is a friend of the [00:01:00] show. I like to think I am a fan of her work and she has appeared on the show earlier.
[00:01:04] Lisa Woolfork: So we will include links to her previous episode, which was fantastic. There's some things I learned about Bianca in that episode that you will want to know. So I think you need to go back and listen to Bianca's first episode, and I'm gonna give you two words. That's gonna intrigue you. Okay. You ready?
[00:01:20] Lisa Woolfork: The two words that's gonna intrigue you about Bianca and her very first episode stitch, please podcast. Two words, clown ministry. clown ministry. That's the phrase. I'm not gonna say anything
[00:01:33] Lisa Woolfork: . I don't wanna give it away. I want y'all to go back, like I said, and listen to that episode, but if the words, clown, ministry, don't get your attention.
[00:01:41] Lisa Woolfork: I don't know how you're living. Okay. Clown ministry. Okay. Get into that clown ministry. So BCA, welcome to the program. It's so good to see you again. Thank
[00:01:50] Bianca Springer: you so much for having me, Lisa, always a delight so much fun.
[00:01:54] Lisa Woolfork: Bianca Springer is an Omni crafter. Okay. An Omni crafter. She [00:02:00] does it all. She does sewing and quilting and hand embroidery.
[00:02:04] Lisa Woolfork: So those are like the needle art things, but she also does like she designs and makes manufacturers with cutting machines pattern. I have about three sets and they are fantastically glorious. And I love pattern weights because of my utter disdain of pins. So pattern weights are my jam. It's just so glad to see her extend into a whole new arena.
[00:02:25] Lisa Woolfork: Now with writing. Now she's written before blogger writing for magazines, and now she has this new book out y'all called represent embroidery. And so welcome Bianca. Let's get into it. Tell me. What does represent mean to you when you hear the word represent, what does it mean to you?
[00:02:44] Bianca Springer: It means authentically showing up as your true self or allowing people into your space. So they can do that as well. We've seen a lot of diversity initiatives that are like fireworks. [00:03:00] Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, look it up. And then it fizzles away. And I was getting a little frustrated with that. Embroidery felt. One, a place that we are grossly underrepresented is manageable to teach, but also a good entryway craft.
[00:03:17] Bianca Springer: A lot of seamstress and garment baker don't necessarily get into embroidery. And I thought, you know what? There's some good designs that we can use to jazz up what we make to get people into up cycling. It could be time consuming or not. So it felt like a good entry point. And because of the visual element of embroidery, people can turn away from your words.
[00:03:39] Bianca Springer: They can turn away from something uncomfortable. It makes them feel uncomfortable, but a visual piece of art, it stays with you. It's hard for you to forget someone has sat and stitch the fit or a message. Yeah. Like I said, it was a place that I felt I could fit. I feel like it was a bridge and an entry point for people who are new to [00:04:00] hand graphs.
[00:04:00] Lisa Woolfork: I think that is so wise because what it does is that you are expanding, like what you are doing is equipping people for success in a variety of ways. First. You are allowing or encouraging or inviting folks who might do a lot of apparel sewing to say, Hey, you know that this is not at all in competition with apparel sewing.
[00:04:21] Lisa Woolfork: It's a huge part of it that this can enhance and embellish the things that you're already doing. Similarly, just in terms of ideas and thinking about how we live in the world together, it allows people to kind of think, at least for me as a black woman, I love the idea of having. An embroidery that looks like me.
[00:04:38] Lisa Woolfork: And I think in some of the materials for the book, it says things like it's finally time for an embroidery that looks like you. And without all of the fussy edits that you have to do, like, oh, I'm gonna get this design. But the design is of a white child. Therefore, I will change that out. Now I gotta fix the hair cuz that hair doesn't look like me.[00:05:00]
[00:05:00] Lisa Woolfork: I guess I just really like the outfit the person had on, and that's the part that I'll really focus on. And so there's so many different concessions that black makers have to make in order to participate in this craft sometimes. And I really like how you shifted that you have shifted that with this book.
[00:05:14] Lisa Woolfork: I wanna ask a follow up question about the word represent, which I love, how you described it as entering in with your full and authentic and whole. Why the exclamation mark, you could have had an exclamation mark. It says represent exclamation mark. And I'm like, why not a period? Why not a question, mark, would you be terrible question mark, obviously bad, but why?
[00:05:33] Lisa Woolfork: The exclamation mark?
[00:05:34] Bianca Springer: Cause I want you to feel that foot through the door. This is me stepping into what's. Space. I am not whispering. I am not easing in. I am not trying to stand back and wait for you to acknowledge me. I feel like in my craft life and the craft spaces, I have been in as an introvert, I have been happy to do that.
[00:05:54] Bianca Springer: Not happy, but comfortable to just be in the space and have people approach me and [00:06:00] engage me based on what I fade and my craft. Yes. That has been authentic in those moments. But the longer I have been in those spaces, There was an expectation on my part where I felt like you guys have seen me now, you know, we craft, you know, we're here and with this title, I got tired of standing in the back. So a period is kind of turning in the back. This exclamation point is can no. Yes,
[00:06:25] Lisa Woolfork: yes. I love it. It's demand.
[00:06:28] Bianca Springer: It's a demand. And I have ghost bumps now, cuz I'm irritated. It's like don't you get. Don't you see ya? And you know what? I'm tired of asking you to see me here. I am look, do something or not or not, but I am here. We are fear.
[00:06:42] Lisa Woolfork: Yes, we are here. And we have always been here and there have, there have been deliberate choices to pretend as if we have not been. And I tell people this all the time, we are the ones we have been waiting. Absolutely.
[00:06:55] Bianca Springer: Absolutely. I'm like, I'm tired of waiting for someone else to do it and [00:07:00] to do it as a firework because there have been people who do it and it's beautiful, but it's a one time thing in February.
[00:07:08] Bianca Springer: Oh. And then there's that business as usual.
[00:07:11] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. I find that so powerful. And I'm really grateful that you put on explanation on it because it is a demand and that it's UNAP. Right. It's absolutely unapologetic. And I wanted to ask you about the process of writing the book. So you are no stranger to writing you blog.
[00:07:28] Lisa Woolfork: You write for different sewing magazines. You've created patterns for different sewing magazines, and now you have a book. Can you talk a little bit about that process? Is it very D. Writing a blog versus writing a magazine article versus creating a pattern. So like maybe talking just about the writing, just in the beginning, you started as a blogger.
[00:07:48] Lisa Woolfork: Could you have imagined ending up with a book?
[00:07:50] Bianca Springer: Absolutely not. When I started as a person on flicker, I couldn't imagine anyone following me and then the blog, and then my friend [00:08:00] Hillary is like, get on Instagram, get on Instagram. And then finally I got on Instagram. So I honestly know I did not. Plan to be a book writer, but it's field inevitable at the same time, the book writing process was the force of another color.
[00:08:15] Bianca Springer: Is that the express?
[00:08:17] Lisa Woolfork: Yes, it is
[00:08:18] Bianca Springer: not the same to write a blog post it's personal. It is fun. It's silly. It's whatever you want it to be. And. It's me. It's a hundred percent. This is what I did today. The magazine articles are dictated by the mood boards and the theme of the magazine. So that is more instructional.
[00:08:38] Bianca Springer: That is here's what you do to achieve this product. Mm-hmm I try to make my magazine projects, things that I love. And that I would want to wear or use, but it's not as personal. This book is personal. I remember being at one point in the conversations with the acquisitions editor and it occurred to me [00:09:00] that we are actually talking about a
[00:09:02] Lisa Woolfork: book
[00:09:04] Bianca Springer: really surreal.
[00:09:06] Bianca Springer: This
[00:09:06] Lisa Woolfork: person wants to acquire a book for me. What it
[00:09:10] Bianca Springer: was a foregone conclusion to her at this point in the conversation where at just spitballing, right? Oh, this would make a fun project or maybe we could do something like that. And then she's like, so make sure you have the proposal in on this day and time and in this format.
[00:09:24] Bianca Springer: And I'm like, oh, what wait. So the projects that I initially outlined have changed once I realized, okay, this is actually a book, books require variety of project, variety of technique. And I really had to focus on what it was. I wanted to say beyond representing it had to not just be about me. Right. And that was the hard part because I wanted it to feel personal.
[00:09:52] Bianca Springer: I wanted it to connect and resonate with people, but I didn't want it to be self absorbed. I want least to pick up this book and say, oh yeah,
[00:09:59] Lisa Woolfork: I wanna [00:10:00] make that. Yes. And I have, I've seen some of those if for you Patreon viewers, Bianca is sitting here looking amazing as am I, but Bianca, especially. And I, she also shared with me a few of the images from the book.
[00:10:13] Lisa Woolfork: So I've had a chance to peek and see, and y'all, I'm like, oh yeah, I'm definitely making that one. That one, for sure. I don't even have my book in my hot little hands yet. And I have already identified at least two I'm like, oh yeah, I'm gonna get that. DNC flossing, this color. I bet that'd be great. I bet I could do that.
[00:10:27] Lisa Woolfork: Just maybe we're just using a big fat strand, but that lettering, and first of all, I don't even embroider that well. Okay. So I really don't. I would love, but I'm like, I was excited. So I think what I hear you saying, it reminds me of this wonderful scholar in the turn of the century and her name was Anna Julia Cooper.
[00:10:47] Lisa Woolfork: And one of the quotes she used to say, and she says when and where I enter the whole of the Negro race enters with me. Ooh. And what she was talking about was when black women are allowed [00:11:00] access to spaces of higher education or to these institutions, instructors. That black women bring along the community with them.
[00:11:07] Lisa Woolfork: And so that's what I saw in what you're doing. So while you're thinking about like, oh, I don't want it to be self absorbed or don't want it to be about me, but when it's about you, Bianca, it's also
[00:11:17] Bianca Springer: about me, right? Yes. And that's when the pressure was on. And that's what was different about the book writing is understanding that this is not just about me.
[00:11:27] Bianca Springer: This is about us and I need justice. But I need to also understand that this cannot encompass everything. We are so vast. Yes,
[00:11:36] Lisa Woolfork: absolutely.
[00:11:37] Bianca Springer: It was a constant, there is this constant need to balance personal responsibility, community responsibility, and appreciation for the fact that there is just no way is this book will speak for all of us, but I'm hoping it speaks to all of us.
[00:11:53] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. I love that. And I think that you are meeting these goals. Every book has a [00:12:00] beginning and an end. It has a front cover and a back cover for a reason. It's meant to be bounded, that there are going to be way more ideas and projects and things you want to say that cannot fit into this book. Doesn't mean that they're bad ideas.
[00:12:16] Lisa Woolfork: It doesn't mean that they're no good. It just means that they are for later. And so I would not encourage you to see that at the downside. In fact, it's an upside because you can finish this book and still have leftover ideas. Yes. What a blessing is that like, that is amazing. So that's really fantastic.
[00:12:34] Lisa Woolfork: You were saying about the blog and what I really appreciate, what I'm seeing at trajectory is personal, very intimate. You decide when you wanna blog, when you don't, you are the person who's solely in charge of it. And then you work at times for a magazine and they say, okay, this month we're concentrating on this.
[00:12:52] Lisa Woolfork: Let me hear your ideas about what to work for that, but you're still reporting to them. And then you move. I dunno, if you see this moving up or moving across to a [00:13:00] publishing company. That has a lot more input, but it's also giving you this kind of platform to express some of your great creativity. Have you found that working with an acquisitions editor or working with whatever the editorial process is like, has that urged you to think about creativity a little differently?
[00:13:19] Lisa Woolfork: Has it shaped the way that you might work on other projects? I just keep thinking about, at least when I sew, I feel like it can be so solitary. It's like me sitting at the machine. And I'm making what I want to make, and nobody else is really involved, but this there's lots of people involved in your book.
[00:13:36] Lisa Woolfork: How do you balance all of that? Well, you know, honestly
[00:13:39] Bianca Springer: there is a misconception in the level of involvement. Oh, there is a team. Okay. But Ashley. I feel very solid. Like it's a solitary process. I feel at times isolated from the process because there are timelines where certain goals need to be met. And at various points in their [00:14:00] timeline, someone new is in charge.
[00:14:02] Bianca Springer: Oh, it's establishing a new relationship with that person, but it's not a round table. It's not where we're all spitballing everything at every stage. I think honestly, that's been the most unpleasant part of the process for me, where there are silences where things are working in the background and I'm like, what's happening.
[00:14:24] Bianca Springer: It's a Harding go. So over the weekend, I got some sample pages of the layouts and. This morning in my inbox. I need your feedback. When we hang up, I have to go give some feedback, but I'm like, I haven't heard from you in three
[00:14:36] Lisa Woolfork: weeks. It's a hurry up and wait kind of situation. It's like you hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry.
[00:14:40] Lisa Woolfork: Do it now. yes. And what
[00:14:43] Bianca Springer: I appreciate though, even at every stage there is, I feel free to say I don't like fit great. I don't like that. And understanding that within the publishing parameters they have set, I do have a. And I was nervous about that. [00:15:00] I think it's going in beforehand. I really thought this would be like a, we move all the way through this process as a group.
[00:15:07] Bianca Springer: And it, no, it's like a relay race instead. Wow. Where you're handed off person to person.
[00:15:13] Lisa Woolfork: Wow. Could you talk a little bit about why you chose C and T or how did that connection come about C and T if you all don't know, is a premier publisher in the quilt. And I think overall quilt design and making, I have quite a few of their books.
[00:15:29] Lisa Woolfork: I was looking through their catalog as part of the research for this episode, they've got a whole new cosplay coming out and African fabrics and all of these things that are coming. And so it's a great company as far as I can tell, just as a consumer, I've not done any other deep research around them, but tell us how that came about, because it's wonderful to have your first book through such a prestigious press.
[00:15:50] Lisa Woolfork: I think.
[00:15:51] Bianca Springer: It is. I'm really excited about that. I got connected with C and T through, I wanna say craft tech, the paper. Yeah. [00:16:00] Craft tech. They make Tim techs, right? I'm not sure. Okay.
[00:16:03] Lisa Woolfork: Butra tech C R a Ft. T E X.
[00:16:06] Bianca Springer: Yes. Okay. That leather like colorful paper.
[00:16:08] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. I have some of that
[00:16:10] Bianca Springer: surprise and so they reached out to me a few years ago when I downloaded.
[00:16:16] Bianca Springer: A pattern from their site. And then they're like, fate, you wanna be a part of this CRA tech ambassador program. And I signed up, I'm like, great. I'd love to play with it. The idea was every month it was a different theme and we would make something with the product. And so I was a part of that ambassador program.
[00:16:33] Bianca Springer: And then that ball, my friend, Julie star, and Sarah Gunn wrote the tonic Bible and they were doing promotion for the tonic Bible. And I was a part of the gallery. I made a sample. So they were at quilt market and quilt festival in Houston. And so I had an initial introduction with C and T there. So I felt like, okay, they saw the way they treated Sarah and Julie during their book promotion.
[00:16:58] Bianca Springer: And they were welcoming. And, you know, he [00:17:00] was very supportive. So the idea of joining for the ambassador program made sense. And so the next year I went to market and festival helping a friend and dressed in something creative,
[00:17:14] Lisa Woolfork: I think was that your yoyo jacket? It
[00:17:16] Bianca Springer: might have been that year. So even the yoyo or the granny square, I think it was the yoyo.
[00:17:20] Bianca Springer: Yes. Okay.
[00:17:21] Lisa Woolfork: He there amazing pieces. Y'all you have got to find Bianca's page on IG or her blog to see that the yoyo one and the granny square, both of them are exquisite such labor, but they look just like, I can't even describe it. It just looks like a bright boom of color. It's fantastic. They're gorgeous.
[00:17:40] Lisa Woolfork: And so that was getting you some attention as you. Doing your own thing, walking, finding your own bees wax.
[00:17:46] Bianca Springer: Yes. And I was carrying my girl's night out bag.
[00:17:49] Lisa Woolfork: Oh, a great bag. I love that. That's the great bag. Thank you. And
[00:17:54] Bianca Springer: so I went to meet my PR text contact, so we hadn't met in person. So I thought, let me pop by [00:18:00] and say hello, she wasn't there.
[00:18:01] Bianca Springer: But one of the editors just stopped and looked at me and she's like, you have a story to tell you have a book in you. And she told me to meet our acquisi. Person. And I'm like, what
[00:18:12] Lisa Woolfork: are you talking about? This is a bag. This is not a book. This is a bag. You see, this is a bag. I made a bag. You're talking about a book it's a different
[00:18:20] Bianca Springer: week.
[00:18:20] Bianca Springer: And then people who are walking by and they're like, oh, I follow you. And just whispering as they walk by. And the editor's like, who are you where, you know, I'm looking at my Instagram. And she was like, you definitely need to do this meeting tomorrow. So apparently at market, which is different from festival, if you are within the industry and you want to pitch a book, you can schedule your time to do that with an acquisitions editor.
[00:18:43] Bianca Springer: Okay. And so they put me in the books and. Lisa. I had no idea what was happening. Zero clue.
[00:18:52] Lisa Woolfork: Hey friends. Hey, I wanted to share a little bit about the abundance of the stitch police podcast. The growth of the podcast has been so exponential [00:19:00] that the work has exceeded what I am able to do. And this is where you come in to retain the joy practice and the liberatory vision of the podcast and to not have it reproduce capitalist extraction and O.
[00:19:14] Lisa Woolfork: I am recalibrating the black woman's stitch Patreon for increased sustained financial support. You can find links to the black woman's stitch Patreon in the show notes and be on the lookout for more information as the recalibration unfolds. And thank you for your support.
[00:19:34] Lisa Woolfork: You go to this meeting, you're like, okay, I have a bag. I was told to come here and talk to an acquisitions editor. Dale, not sure where this book is going to come from, but I'm game I'm here. Here we go. Talk to me. You say
[00:19:47] Bianca Springer: exactly what I said to her. I said that exactly. And she said, well, what are you interested in?
[00:19:52] Bianca Springer: And this is where things got really real. I said, you know what? I need to be honest with you. I am looking at your shelves. [00:20:00] And as I look at these shelve, I am unimpressed. I am not interested in these books and, and to her credit, she was so gracious with hearing me just be honest with her. I am interested in embroidery.
[00:20:14] Bianca Springer: I enjoy embroidery. And I told her about the fact that at that point I had had two surgeries. I was on bedrest and I ordered books online from their authors and I bought them sight on scene. So I like got them. I saw all these little kids and these people. And I'm like for every design I was interested in, I had to figure out how to change the hair, texture, how to change the shape of the noses, how to widen the hips, how to make these things feel representative of me.
[00:20:43] Bianca Springer: And I said, you know what? In the moment I did it because I had no option. I was incapacitated. Right. But now that I'm here and I have your ear, I took some books off the shelf and I said, look at her. I'm like, she's not my daughter. She doesn't look like anyone in my family. [00:21:00] I have a mixed family. You know, this it's very difficult for me to sit and spend six hours stitching this.
[00:21:06] Bianca Springer: Thing, because it doesn't communicate anything to me. I said, but more so than that, I don't wanna give you my money to disrespect me. I can't pay you to tell me I am not worthy enough for you
[00:21:17] Lisa Woolfork: to create a design that looks like me. That's right.
[00:21:20] Bianca Springer: So I need you to tell me that if I were to write a book with people that looked like me, will it beyond these shelves?
[00:21:28] Bianca Springer: Is that an interest? Is that something you're willing to do? I'm like, there's a reason it hasn't been done. I don't know if it's because people like me don't have an opportunity to say this and aren't willing to pitch, or if it's an internal thing where those opportunities are being denied. So I am prepared to continue this conversation with you, but you will have to understand this is not going to be an because I don't want to stitch
[00:21:54] Lisa Woolfork: these books.
[00:21:55] Lisa Woolfork: Right. And what I love about what you said to her, when you said, I am not interested [00:22:00] in these books. What I heard and what my approach to that is. It's not that I'm not interested in these books. I'm not that interested in them. The problem is they are not interested in me. These books are not interested in me.
[00:22:15] Lisa Woolfork: They're not interested in you. They aren't interested in us. Right. And so that's the message we get all the time as black women sewists, who like to make apparel or to make quilts. If I wanted to make a quilt for my boys, And I wanted to go into the store and find pictures with little brown faces on them and have them not be dogs.
[00:22:36] Lisa Woolfork: Okay. I would be sorely disappointed. I cannot walk into a fabric store at least I couldn't last year and pick up, oh, I'm gonna get that little black boy fabric. Now, if I wanted to get kid quote, unquote kid fabric with white kids on it. Sure. And maybe they might have a little black friend that they put on there.
[00:22:52] Lisa Woolfork: Right. . It's not representative. And so this is why I say we are the ones we have been waiting for, because [00:23:00] whether it is a structural thing that the company is doing deliberately, or there is a very narrow pipeline of not having makers who are in the position to write books or whatever the result is the same, it is this huge, just lack of something which doesn't make any.
[00:23:19] Lisa Woolfork: It just does not make any sense. And, you know, I feel like we are just so far past the days of, like you said, waiting in the corner and hoping somebody notices or coming. Like we have our little beggar bowl in hand, please, sir, could you please see me? Like no, no, thank you. And that's why I love your exclamation mark.
[00:23:38] Lisa Woolfork: I love how you just said, I'm not asking you. I'm telling you.
[00:23:43] Bianca Springer: Absolutely. And I appreciated and she heard me I'm so linear. I had nothing to lose. That's right. And I was respectful, but I was clear. And honestly though, the other thing, so that happened in November and she sent me after market. She [00:24:00] set me the materials on how to write the proposal.
[00:24:03] Bianca Springer: I was excited. I'm like, okay. She was serious. Actually. It took me several months to write up few drafts. Okay. And then I just let it fit. So that was like November and around February. Okay. And this is honest. So it might be hurtful, but it's honest. I got a request to be featured for black history months.
[00:24:22] Bianca Springer: But at this point, I had no relationship with the company beyond the craft tents, which is promotion for
[00:24:30] Lisa Woolfork: product. They send you product in an exchange. You make something with it and you all get the mutual benefit of they get a product and you get more eyes on your page and exposure, et cetera.
[00:24:41] Bianca Springer: I was asked to be for the profile and I believe this was either black history month or around George Floyd.
[00:24:48] Bianca Springer: I was unhappy with that. And I said, you know, what, how about you profile me in July? But beyond that, you need to look within your sphere. If you are having to [00:25:00] reach outside of your sphere for this profile, there is greater work to be done internally. Absolutely. And I don't want to be tokenized if you want me to be featured and you wanna celebrate my work, you do it on a Saturday or Wednesday in July.
[00:25:15] Bianca Springer: You do it on an insignificant day. When you turn people down, when you say no, sometimes it appears to be that you're offended and I'm like, I'm not offended at all. I appreciate. See my work and my talent, but I'm saying no with no offense. I'm saying no with no offense. And I walk away, our relationship continues.
[00:25:35] Bianca Springer: I really need you to look at why I have to be the one to do this. So that happened and it was a little tension and I still hadn't pulled the trigger on submitting my final proposal. Oh, so what happened next? I was listening to our sermon and it was the parable of the talent. So I had heard the parable of the talents about and gave one talent, five talents and 10 talents.
[00:25:59] Bianca Springer: And then [00:26:00] when there was a return on the investment for everyone, except the one who buried it, and I was like, Ooh,
[00:26:09] Bianca Springer: And I was like, Ooh, and that's the tender spot? Because I saw someone whose work I saw being heavily promoted and advanced and objectively. I felt the caliber of that work was mediocre. In that moment. I was like, how is this good? You know, I really had to think about what I did and what they did and why it was well received and with no judgment on the individual.
[00:26:34] Bianca Springer: I'm like, you make your money however you want. And if people are gonna buy it, do it, I support you. Yes, yes, please. But it forced me to look at why I was upset. Yes. And what I could do to solve the problem that I saw in my mind, and then this terrible of the talents like God was saying, look, I gave you an opportunity.
[00:26:54] Bianca Springer: I gave you an audience. You have an idea. You are offended when not offended, but you [00:27:00] know, when people want to profile you, what are you doing to fill the space that you are irritated in?
[00:27:06] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. Yes. It's like, you have to like secure your own healing. If you're annoyed, if you're frustrated about the things you're looking at and you can't figure out why that's, when you have to pause and say, okay, what is mine to do?
[00:27:20] Lisa Woolfork: What is mine to do? And it seems like this book was yours to do. And I think it can be really helpful to look objectively at other people's things and say, Hey, they're getting like mad attention. For that stuff. That's not that great. And I know my stuff is really good. I mean, I have just a quick side note when I did my first retreat, I was so nervous.
[00:27:46] Lisa Woolfork: I didn't think I could do it, blah, blah, blah. And I went back and forth. And finally I said to myself, if that raggedy bitch can do it I know I can do it. So that's how it took. So you get a message from the Lord [00:28:00] and then the Lord sends me a message in a different way. But at the end we get to do our thing.
[00:28:05] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. And it gets to thrive.
[00:28:08] Bianca Springer: Yes. And you know, at the end of the day, someone might hear this. Someone might pick up that book and say, oh, that raggedy bitch did it. And if I'm somebody's that Getty bitch to get them inspired to
[00:28:19] Lisa Woolfork: I'm with that, I am same, same. I feel like every time. See a black crafted person.
[00:28:25] Lisa Woolfork: I'm like, do you wanna do a podcast? You should start a podcast. like, well, seriously when Asian, so as collective got started, I was like, here, find this organization, do this thing, go here, ask these questions. Let me know if you need anything. I'm happy to help. I know that we say this all the time, community over competition, but I believe.
[00:28:43] Lisa Woolfork: I believe it. I want us all to win. There is plenty, there is an abundance of opportunities and for flourishing, and we can support each other. We can promote and push each other. There's enough room for everybody. There's just enough that scarcity [00:29:00] idea only it's meant scarcity drives competition. And if we realize that scarcity is a myth and that there is an abundance.
[00:29:07] Lisa Woolfork: Then everybody's happier and everybody's doing what they want and nobody's hurting each other and it just works out. And so that's what I think I see when you made the choice to commit to yourself by creating this book, it really is a gift to all of us. Thank you.
[00:29:21] Bianca Springer: Thank you. And I embrace that. I'm excited about it.
[00:29:24] Bianca Springer: I'm excited. So some of the designs, I know, I love that I have a diverse group of. I have shown the same image to my Indian friend, my white friend, my black friend, and each of them has a different perspective on that image. So I had a conversation. So one of the images in the book, it's a simple text. You are invited to the cookout.
[00:29:46] Lisa Woolfork: Yes.
[00:29:46] Bianca Springer: I saw that when I stitch that up, I'm gonna stitch two versions, one as is, but one with a cross through the knot.
[00:29:54] Lisa Woolfork: That's mine. That's mine. That's inviting people to the cookout. Yeah, [00:30:00] not everybody's getting an invite again. Like you, I'm in a mixed family. My spouse can come. Then there's also events that my spouse can't come.
[00:30:08] Lisa Woolfork: My spouse. ISS, not a black woman. So my spouse never gets invited to the events with black women. So yes, I did see that. So tell me the you're invited to the cookout. You're not. So tell her by that. I saw that and I was like,
[00:30:21] Bianca Springer: ah, yes, I deliberated. That was not my original design idea. The original idea was your're invited to the cookout in large text and under it in the smaller subtext,
[00:30:34] Lisa Woolfork: but you can't bring the potato salad.
[00:30:36] Lisa Woolfork: That's hilarious. And I thought that is hilarious. That is ridiculous. That is funny. It's funny
[00:30:44] Bianca Springer: exactly what we say in our heads. We're like, you can come, but you
[00:30:48] Lisa Woolfork: gotta bring the ice. Yeah. Or a bag of chips from a store. Yes. Plates. We also need plates and napkins. Right. And
[00:30:55] Bianca Springer: so when I shared it with one of my black friends, she got it immediately.
[00:30:59] Bianca Springer: She [00:31:00] left, she's like, oh yeah, that's going on? And apron, that is too cute. I shared it with a white friend and they didn't get it. And then there was a whole conversation about why would you invite me? And then tell me I
[00:31:10] Lisa Woolfork: can't bring something. And that's what I'm wanna invite them to my cookouts. I'm
[00:31:15] Bianca Springer: like, you can't eat everybody food.
[00:31:17] Bianca Springer: Don't, you know, this and your food raises and stuff that rans don't belong in. And I'm joking because in my head,
[00:31:24] Lisa Woolfork: but it carrot nuts. This is a foregone
[00:31:25] Bianca Springer: conclusion, but that's simple design, you know, meant something different
[00:31:31] Lisa Woolfork: to each of us. It did. It really did. And I totally planned when I search that out, you are invited to the cookout.
[00:31:37] Lisa Woolfork: I'm gonna write. On mine. I, I think that black folks, we need to stop passing out these wholesale invitations to people because people get in there. Next thing you know, they're like, why is it called a cookout? Do we have permits for the park today? Right.
[00:31:53] Bianca Springer: Start saying, using names from songs that you know, you ain't got no business using. Yeah.
[00:31:57] Lisa Woolfork: Not everybody can come to the cookout. [00:32:00] I just, not everybody gets to come. So for mine, when I sit your top, it's gonna be an N OT. This other thing. There's things in the world. Besides the cook. You know, I wanna cook out to be honest. So this is another example of how your wonderful, beautiful book is speaking to so many of our experiences.
[00:32:19] Lisa Woolfork: And I really love some of the images where you had someone who was a wheelchair user. I know a black woman who does a lot of sewing and she is a wheelchair user. So I'm like, I don't know if I've seen an rotary book that would include that type of re I like the different body shapes that you have and the hair textures.
[00:32:36] Lisa Woolfork: And I also love there's one piece where you have a there's this like a frame. That looks like a cameo. Can you talk a bit about that particular frame? Is that gonna be something that you'll be selling on the side or like what the, who I think you've used that before in some of your work, it was for the women's faces.
[00:32:53] Bianca Springer: Yes. The black frame. Yes. The black frame. Those will be sold at the, my sold to be Shopify store, my website. [00:33:00] Oh, good. Yes. And those are laser cut frames that are made for
[00:33:04] Lisa Woolfork: did you make those? I did make them look at that. I just asked her a question. Y'all did you make those frames? She's like of. Thanks.
[00:33:10] Lisa Woolfork: I made them thanks. I made them, I made them, I don't wanna make mine. I'd like to buy my cuz. I know the other half of your phrase is thanks. I made them so can you, so can you I can't make frames. I can make shoes. I can make umbrellas. I make my underwear and bras and all my clothes frames. No. And you know what?
[00:33:26] Bianca Springer: There's a point where we just have to say, look,
[00:33:28] Lisa Woolfork: someone else gotta do it. And I'm so glad that my someone else's named Bianca spring. Because they're talented and she's very good at cutting very durable materials. So why did you decide to make those beautiful frames? Is that something to get a consistency of look a way to kind of encourage people to like see their designs as art?
[00:33:47] Lisa Woolfork: I really do think that that does make a difference when you're displaying embroidery. What drew you to the idea of that particular frame style?
[00:33:54] Bianca Springer: So when I was thinking about embroidery, And why few of my [00:34:00] followers or people I follow do embroidery, like black followers and people. I follow very few of them engage in embroidery.
[00:34:08] Bianca Springer: And in part, my love of it is because I love things that are retro and vintage. And so I appreciate that in a way that I know others, Don. And so I started to think that just to see a traditional embroidery who felt a bit dated, and I felt like by putting that frame around it, add the little modern touch, it gives you a little visual interest and you know what?
[00:34:32] Bianca Springer: No honesty. I am a fair embroider. I think I do a good job. I am by no means a trained artisan in the embroidery arts. I do a good job. I am happy what I do. Every project gets better. Mm-hmm the frame helps as someone who's trying to encourage others in the crowd. I want people to understand that perfection is not the goal.
[00:34:55] Bianca Springer: That's right. So if your work is less than perfect framing, [00:35:00] it elevates it, but also I'm highlighting the imperfection. I'm highlighting the fact that, you know what I put a lot of time into. And maybe I throw the wrong SWA for that hair, but I put a lot of time in this and it's cute and I love cute. And the next one will be better.
[00:35:14] Lisa Woolfork: And it's work of art. Art is not perfection. Art is a practice. And so when you put it up there, when you put it in the frame, you're honoring that process, you're honoring the practice. I don't think I've never heard an artist talk about their work in terms of perfect.
[00:35:31] Bianca Springer: No, but you have a lot of critics and bystanders who you,
[00:35:34] Lisa Woolfork: but I think critic bystanders. Sure. But like, I think that it's a depth, it's an impoverishment of imagination. Ooh. Yes. You look at a work of art and say, ah, I ain't perfect. Like who thinks that way? That's how we evaluate anything. You don't evaluate like your food of this taste. Good. I really enjoy this blah, blah, blah. But no, one's gonna say that's not perfect.
[00:35:57] Lisa Woolfork: I'm throwing it out. We don't do that in any aspect of [00:36:00] life. I don't think I'm really backing my brain right now. Trying to figure out, oh, it's not perfect. Therefore it's garbage only like really sad people think that way that's not. Okay. And so what this invitation that you're offering us is the invitation to play.
[00:36:15] Lisa Woolfork: To understand that with every single stitch you are taking a step, you know, you are making a move, you are building on something. I absolutely love it. I really do. And I really love how you described the frame as elevating it. And it's nice to basically to appreciate your art on the. I didn't appreciate my clothes because like, you know, I'm wearing them or my family's wearing them or whatever.
[00:36:38] Lisa Woolfork: I give someone a gift, but it's something else to kind of make something and then just to display it so that you can see it and have the enjoyment of it.
[00:36:44] Bianca Springer: Absolutely. And I think, so the other part of this book, when we talk about the displaying of it is I've been asked, who is this book for? I say this book is for everyone, not about every.
[00:36:58] Lisa Woolfork: [00:37:00] Yes.
[00:37:00] Bianca Springer: And if do not see yourself and you will, I'm not even gonna say that. Cuz they, everybody is
[00:37:06] Lisa Woolfork: in this book, right. That's one of the subtitles, right? I think it says stitch 10 colorful projects and over 100 designs, full range of shape, skin tones and hair textures.
[00:37:16] Bianca Springer: Yes. And I think there are some designs that some people will choose not to stitch it.
[00:37:23] Bianca Springer: But I really want them to ask themselves why not take two questions beyond your initial? No. And if you are, if you are an ally and you claim to support others, do that in your handwork, do that where you put your time. And if you will take the time to stitch 600 French knots in an Afro and put that in a frame or in your.
[00:37:50] Bianca Springer: And someone walks in and asks you, did you make that? Why did you make that? And it doesn't look like them. It does not represent, that's a conversation that needs to be had. Why would [00:38:00] you invest your time in something like that? Because I I'm an ally I support with more than just my mouth. If my kids see me stitching these a little Afro nods, we can have a conversation about hair discrimination, right?
[00:38:13] Bianca Springer: That's the bridge. I really want people who think this book is not for them to look and ask themselves. Why not?
[00:38:20] Lisa Woolfork: And what it also gives them the opportunity to realize that everything else in their embroidery library, everything else in their catalogs, all the other books on their shelves, this is the only book that has made them feel uneasy.
[00:38:36] Lisa Woolfork: Then maybe they can imagine what it's like for us. To go into a store and want to do embroidery and are looking for books and patterns that are meaningful to us and not finding anything, this idea that this book is for everybody, but not about everybody. That seems like I actually do have some books just like you.
[00:38:55] Lisa Woolfork: I purchased these books clearly. They're not for me nor [00:39:00] about. And I still buy them and I still use them and I still sew up the stuff. So there's a lot worse things that could happen to somebody than being made uneasy, buy an embroidery book. right. Okay. Right. So there just is. If that's the height of their oppression in the world is that they were made uncomfortable by an embroidery book then congratulations.
[00:39:24] Bianca Springer: Yes. Give me your shoes. I'd like to walk a day anyway.
[00:39:27] Lisa Woolfork: Exactly. Just for a little bit though. Cause I think they might go a lot of racist places and I don't wanna go there.
[00:39:34] Lisa Woolfork: I'm gonna let you go. But I actually have to ask this question because I've been asking everybody the slogan of a stitch please podcast, is that we will help you get your stitch together. Bianca Springer, author of represent. How would you advise our listeners today to get their stitch together?
[00:39:50] Bianca Springer: Try something different and ask themselves two questions beyond their resistance.
[00:39:56] Bianca Springer: Whatever thing is stopping you from [00:40:00] advancing, ask yourself why, and then why not? And once you begin to explore that you're gonna get some stitches
[00:40:07] Lisa Woolfork: together somewhere. And on that note, you all can find this marvelous book represent from C and T publishing. If you are lucky or wise, like I. You have pre-ordered your book and it is on the way to you.
[00:40:22] Lisa Woolfork: But if not, you can find some at book sellers and directly from C and T probably there's all kinds of ways to be able to find the book. Bianca Springer. Thanks. I made them thank you for being here. It was a delight as always.
[00:40:35] Bianca Springer: Thank you. Lisa had such a great time.
[00:40:40] Lisa Woolfork: You've been listening to the stitch please podcast.
[00:40:43] Lisa Woolfork: The official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group where black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at black women's stitch, gmail.com. If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by [00:41:00] supporting us on Patreon.
[00:41:01] Lisa Woolfork: P a T R E O. And you can find black women stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month, you can help support the project with things like editing transcripts and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really, really help the podcast by rating it and review.
[00:41:24] Lisa Woolfork: Anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who do for those that have like a star rating, or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us at the stitch please podcast that is incredibly helpful.
[00:41:44] Lisa Woolfork: Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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