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Meet the Maker: Embroidery Artist Miyuki Sakai

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While in art school in Kyoto, Japan, Miyuki Sakai was challenged to find a unique way to express herself. Inspiration struck when she saw her mother’s sewing machine. “I thought it could be a good idea to use it to draw pictures,” Sakai says. That was more than 20 years ago and Sakai, 47, is still creating whimsical illustrations using embroidery techniques.

Sakai sketches her designs with pen, traces them onto carbon paper, then stitches over the design — starting with the lighter colors and then the darker outlines — using a sewing machine. Her work has appeared in many magazines, including an award-winning June 2010 feature in Martha Stewart Living (above), and she recently created unforgettable mementos for our 2012 American Made honorees. Read on for our fill-in-the-blank interview with the artist.

Having my own business is: like riding a roller-coaster. Screamingly fun.

If I weren’t doing this, I would: not survive.

Creating makes me feel
: joy.

I find inspiration in
: things around me — farmers’ markets, restaurants, shopping, traveling. [These] things speak to me, like, “Draw me.”

I do my best work: 
when my machine is in a good mood.

The best advice I can give is: 
don’t look for a shortcut.

Three people who inspire me are: 
Katsuhiko Hibino (Japanese artist), Kiyoshiro Imawano (Japanese rock star), Martha Stewart (Seriously! I’ve been a Living subscriber since I moved to the U.S. 14 years ago!)

My definition of success is: 
being happy.

Three things I’d like to learn are: 
crochet, cross-stitch, and Japanese tea ceremony.


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