A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Inez Tan's embroidery of her little girl's artwork is worth so much more.
"I've always loved working with my hands," says the mother of two, who previously worked as a fashion merchandiser. While she'd always been drawn to textiles and prints, with a background in fashion design, it wasn't until she was pregnant with her son, Tyler, that she began experimenting more with embroidery.
"I found embroidery to be timeless, exciting, and full of possibilities," she tell us. "You can stitch anything. There is no right or wrong.” Looking for more ways to challenger her self-taught techniques, Tan had the idea to team up with her 5-year-old, Miya, by transforming her drawings into stitched works of art. "She likes to doodle cute stick-like figures and I liked the imperfections in her drawings—very jagged and raw and precious."
One of Miya’s pieces in particular amused Tan: “One day, she drew a picture of a snail, a cowgirl and a bunny and told me: ‘The snail calls out the bunny for being too slow. It says, giddy-up yourself, Slimy Snail! HeeHa, let’s go!’ I was super inspired by her imagination.”
After embroidering Miya's masterpiece—which she rightfully titled "The Snail, The Cowgirl, & The Bunny"—Tan continued the collaboration and named it "She Draws, I Thread" while on a family vacation to Disneyland in Tokyo. "I wanted to work on a series to preserve her precious drawings and our family memories," she says, seeing them as a unique way to bond and laugh over silly stories. And when it comes to stories, Miya has plenty. "She has so many in her sketchbook, it becomes harder to pick which ones are our favorites!"
Aside from the Disneyland series, Tan says one of their other favorites is “The Dino Cafe”, inspired by Miya’s whims of dinosaurs and humans befriending one another and (of course!) hanging out in cafes.
Seeing her drawings come to life in a creative new way is something Miya loves too. "When she sees her artwork become part of mine, she feels special, happy, and motivated," Tan tell us. Even on her busier days when work takes over (Tan also helps out with styling for her husband's video production business), she says Miya never hesitates to check in on when they'll do their next project together.
But the duo's embroidered endeavors are more than just a fun activity. For Tan, it's largely been a way both bond and preserve some of life's most precious memories. "I've learned a lot from my kids. They inspire me to learn to go with the flow and live in the moment. You need to enjoy every single bit of their childhood and make it memorable."
Feeling inspired? Watch Martha make this embroidered tote bag keepsake featuring your child's artwork: