World Mental Health Day 2020
    In celebration of World Mental Health Day 2020, Ciara Leroy (@prettystrangedesign) has developed three free uplifting patterns available now! Ciara is a multi-disciplinary designer specializing in lettering, embroidery and fashion. To dig deeper into the mind of Ciara, read our 10 questions with her below. 

    Download It's Okay to Ask for Help Pattern

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    It's Okay To Ask for Help Pattern

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    It's Okay To Hold More Than One Feeling Pattern

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    Meet The Maker: Ciara LeRoy

    1. What are a few things you want the world to know about you?


    •  I embrace duality— beautiful & weird, hot & cold, hard & soft, funny & serious
    • I have a one-eyed cat
    • I love cotton candy and rainbow sprinkles
    • The goal of my work is to unite imagination with everyday life. Sometimes that imagination is silly and smile-inducing. Other times that imagination is serious. Currently, it is imagining a more just and equitable world. 


    2. How did you start stitching?


    My grandmother introduced me to fiber arts at her kitchen table. Both of my parents worked full time, so I spent a lot of time at her house after school and over the summers. She taught my sister and I to crochet and to make felt crafts that incorporated hand embroidery.

    My modern hand embroidery style is indebted to my friend Felice Salmon, also a wonderful artist & activist. I hadn’t stitched in many, many years. About three years ago, she taught me the basics of modern hand embroidery. 

     

    3. What inspires you to keep creating?


    My imagination is hyperactive. Even when I’m fatigued, or unmotivated, a flurry of new ideas is almost constantly swirling around in my brain, begging to be brought into the real world. My inspiration comes from television, books, people-watching, walks about town, my late-night thoughts, and so many other random places. Inspiration truly abounds — if I’m intentional about slowing down and noticing the everyday phenomenal things about life and living. 

     

    4. Can you tell us about your favorite piece of work/favorite stitching moment?


    My favorite piece of work ever would have to be “The Cycle.” I stitched this hoop after the massive public outcry over the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. The systemic oppression of Black people has been going on for literal centuries, and in modern times, I notice a cycle of outrage when it comes to oppression and tragedy that happens in public view. We get upset about it, talk about it for a little while, post some hashtags on social media, share an article or two, and then most of the world has moved on within days—with little to no enduring action or change made to dismantle the oppression. So I stitched “The Cycle” to call out this behavior and encourage folks to make dismantling Black oppression a part of their daily lives, and to use whatever privilege they have to consistently work toward equality. 

     

    5. What is your 'go-to' stitch?


    Satin stitch, all the way! I love experimenting with color. I adore the way satin stitch conveys large fields of color on the hoop.

     

    6. What themes do you explore through your art?


    Joy, happiness, self-love, self-worth, grief, equality, justice, mental health, the spectrum of emotion, life’s oddities...

     

    7. What does mental health mean to you?


    Caring for my mind and soul as I care for my body. I make a point to go to the doctor to make sure my body is in proper working order. Why shouldn’t I make my mental health a priority as well? For me, mental health means maintaining a state where I am grounded in the truth about myself and my role on this earth. Not floating untethered in patterns of self-destruction, paranoia, negative inner-dialogue, and poor boundaries with other people. 

     

    8. How do you lead a positive life?


    Meeting with my therapist on a regular basis (even when life is “normal”, not just in crisis), regularly identifying things to be grateful for, treating myself to experiences and things that bring me happiness or joy, identifying and acting on ways I can enrich the lives of others.

     

    9. How do you think art can help with mental health?


    Art can be centering and meditative, and those qualities allow us to let walls down and examine feelings and thoughts. 

     

    10.  Tell us more about the inspiration behind your upcoming DMC free patterns


    I centered the patterns around the phrase “It’s ok” because I wanted to encourage folks to give themselves permission to make mental health a priority. I think a lot of us grow up in patterns of what we can’t do, what we’re not allowed to say or feel, what we’re “supposed” to feel, etc. I know I certainly had to unlearn a lot of the stereotypes and archaic expectations placed upon me as a Black woman.  I hope these patterns encourage folks to unlearn any negativity that has impeded their journeys to mental health. 

    BONUS CONTENT

    Be sure to follow @prettystrangedesign on Instagram to keep up with Ciara's latest creations. Feel inspired to get making? Pick from Ciara's preffered DMC supplies when you shop Ciara's favorites. Enjoy more of Ciara's work below!