What inspired Anna Hechtman to start stitching?

January 17, 2019
Anna Hechtman is a textile designer based in Melbourne, focusing on embroidery, crochet, weaving, tapestry and natural dyeing. She's also our latest artist-in-residence as part of our 'Storytellers' exhibition and program series.

How did your love for embroidery begin?
I have always loved creating with my hands: embroidery, crochet, weaving, knitting. At school I loved art class and took every extra curricula creative class I could. When I was in the 4th grade a group of my friends and I persuaded the owner of the gift shop, sandwiched between the IGA and Chinese restaurant, to teach embroidery in the shop’s tea room. We were taught different basic stitches and completed a sampler. And my love of embroidery began.

Can you tell us about the significance of / emotional connection to Jewish textiles in your own life?
The year of my bat mitzvah I moved from the local primary school to Perth’s only Jewish school so that I could settle in before high school, and also have my bat mitzvah with the other girls in the class. One of our bat mitzvah homework activities was to make a challah cloth. Whilst many of my friends painted a cloth I decide to embroider one. I remember it being a slow, thoughtful and meditative activity which allowed me the space to be still and think about everything that was happening in a busy year. I still use the cloth today and it reminds me of that year.

Another special textile I have made is the chuppah I crocheted for my wedding. It is a simple linen adorned with crocheted lace. At a time of my life where I was so busy with wedding preparations, friends’ weddings and work commitments, working on the chuppah forced me to be still, create and reflect.

During your residency at the Museum, what have you learnt (or do you expect to learn) from exploring the textiles within our collection, and how do you think that might impact your own work?
I’m hoping to be able gain a greater understanding of the very long history of Judaic textiles, particularly, challah cloths. Some of my questions are why were particular colours or images used and how did certain styles develop? I’m looking to develop new challah cloths inspired by the Museum’s collection and my research that will help inform workshops and possibly embroidery kits or a series of cloths.

 You run workshops for kids and adults. Is embroidery for everyone or does it take a certain kind of person to do it? What do you think people will be surprised by during an embroidery workshop?
It is for everyone! I have taught men and women of all ages from all different backgrounds many of whom have never picked up a needle and thread. At the end of workshops besides being eager to stitch everything, most people are surprised how calm and centred they feel. We all live such busy lives where our attention is constantly being divided amongst so many things at the same time. Sitting down and just focusing on a needle, fabric and thread is the complete opposite – a true slow craft.

Finally, can you tell us a bit about the name of your business – one pink plum?
Unfortunately no interesting big back story to this name – it’s just one I randomly chose over 10 years ago. At the time I had taken about 6 months off of work to finish my doctorate thesis and was spending most days holed up in my study writing, reading journal articles and editing. I remember stumbling across an article in the weekend paper about the rise of craft blogs and a return to the handmade. Up until that point I had been so busy on studies, work and life in general I hadn’t made anything for at least five years and didn’t realise that I had missed it.  I was eager to be part of this whole new world I had discovered of other people who liked to make (and for any thesis distraction!) so I used this name to start a blog one night and share the textiles I was making.

Thanks Anna! Anna will be running embroidery workshops for kids and adults, and will be in residence until Sunday 24 February.