Cross stitch has come along way. In fact, for creative artist Beth Hudak it’s a craft that hasn’t outrun its course.
“I think it’s taking people a while to not just think of cross stitch as something your grandmother does,” Hudak notes. “What I’m able to provide in cross stitch can maybe clarify what fiber art can be.”
The 31-year-old Green Bay resident has brought her take on subversive cross stitch, with catchy phrases influenced by pop culture including reality TV, films, song lyrics and current literature, to the area with scented sachets, pillows and more. While she says everything is slightly “silly,” Hudak doesn’t take the fun side for granted.
“I love to make things. I would make pretty much anything,” she shares. “I feel very lucky to have whimsy in my world.”
Hudak also has done “pseudo taxidermy” by making gold leaf dinosaur skulls and creating jewelry pieces, like earrings, from diodes and electrical parts. The Ohio transplant came across the later pieces and couldn’t pass up the potential she saw in them. “I saw them and was like, ‘Oh, those look like pretty beads,’” Hudak says.
She followed her fiancé, and now husband, to the Dairy State from Columbus, Ohio in 2013. Her family has had a cottage in the Rhinelander area for more than 100 years so she’s “very familiar with Wisconsin.” Hudak left behind a job with a small nonprofit, but gained the opportunity to figure out her skills and what she wanted to do next.
“I actually got to explore crafts in a way outside of relieving stress,” she explains. Hudak spent a year almost exclusively creating before she moved into a position with another nonprofit.
“I was amazed with the welcoming artistic community here,” Hudak says. “My passion is in creative problem solving, as well as creating things.” Initially, Hudak thought she’d just do custom pieces, but was surprised to find “(people) liked what I liked.” She’s excited to see what comes of her wares as she begins to sell them and get her website, bethhudak.com, up and running.
“I’m also a big fan of knitting, but I’m not a very good knitter,” Hudak confesses, even though she started at age 6 or 7 and learned from her mother. “Creativity was always encouraged, whether it was creative thinking or actually creating,” Hudak says of her childhood.
Hudak plots her cross stitch designs using graph paper and spends about 30 hours a week on projects while talking on the phone, on FaceTime with friends or listening to podcasts. Hudak also is hoping she can take up reading while cross stitching since she’s figured out how to read and knit at the same time.
So, where does Hudak find her materials?
“I love craft stores, it’s a terrible addiction!” Hudak exclaims. “I’ll always keep an eye out for things that could be used in a different way. … It’s terrible, I’m like a hoarder.” Yard sales, thrift stores, and even Home Depot have all produced unexpected finds for Hudak in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. She recently cleaned out her craft room and found oodles of yarn, fabric, rolls of tape, 300 needles and paper crafting items.
“It’s all beautiful, so I can’t get rid of it — ever,” she says with a mock cringe of the paper leftover from her wedding that she used to make flowers. But, there are always more projects in the queue, like Halloween costumes or what to do with upholstery fabric she picked up during a treasure hunt.
“Now I have a ton of vinyl that I need to figure out something more exciting to do with than just envelope clutches,” she says.