Peggy Debell's Embroidered Photographs | Southern Highland Craft Guild Skip to content

Peggy DeBell

Embroidered Photography

Hot Springs, NC

I enjoy creating the unexpected from familiar scenes and everyday objects. A pasture with cows and a barn or a bygone building that I snap with my digital camera becomes a kaleidoscope of colors and textures printed onto cloth,then stitched and embellished by slow hands and a meditative spirit.

I save aluminum pull off lids from Kozy Shack pudding and sew them onto a painter's drop cloth printed with computer manipulated scans of the tops arranged in geometric designs. Then I construct an elegant purse using pipe cleaners, recycled metal from a bag found at the Salvation Army, novelty trims, antique buttons and spend hours embroidering around the circular shapes with hand dyed pearl cotton.

People who have lost beloved pets send me treasured photos that I transform into a pillow memorial that they can hug and still feel connected to that unconditional love.

I follow my intuition when combining imagery and my heart to guide my hand when piecing, quilting, and embroidering. The result is a uniqueness that supercedes the original photos.

Meet Peggy DeBell

When did you start making your craft?
I began making my craft in 1981 and became a member of the Southern Highlands Guild in Fiber in 1985. My work has evolved considerably since then into working with photos printed on fabric with my inkjet printer. This phase began when I got my first desktop computer in 2001.
The photos were then quilted and embellished with hand embroidery. I began to add additional texture to the fabric before printing and also some drawing and coloring after the image was printed.
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What mountains/state park do you most identify with?
I have lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina since 1991. Before that I lived in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.
I have traveled all over the United States and Canada in my 1981 motorhome, but most of my photos are taken in both Madison and Haywood Counties in NC. I currently reside in a small cabin 3500 feet above sea level in the Spring Creek Community of North Carolina. So I most identify with the Appalachian Mountains in which I live.
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How do you incorporate the mountains into your work?
I make photos of old barns and rustic structures that have the mountains as a backdrop. Mountains are an integral part of my daily life.
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Favorite Season?
Most of the work in this show is about the Appalachian Spring. From early Winter into mid Spring.
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When did you join the Guild and why?
I became a member in fiber in 1985. Joining the Guild has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life. It was and is a way to present my work to others whether in craft shows which I did from 1985 until about 2013, in the shops,or doing educational demonstrations. .
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What is your favorite part of being a Guild Member? What is your participation in the Guild?
I love being part of the community of makers and the folks that run the guild on a day to day basis. I have work in both Allanstand and the Guild shop in Biltmore Village as well as online with this special focus show on the mountains.
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Do you teach workshops?
I used to teach workshops in various places and at John C. Campbell Folk School. One of the pieces in this Mountain exhibit is a photo of the red barn at the folk school that I took when I first began teaching there. I have retired from doing workshops after being a guild member for over 30 years!
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Other notes on my work
I spend a great deal of time hand embroidering the quilted pieces in a sort of meditative state. Each piece is totally unique as I respond to each landscape individually. I don't feel a photograph of the finished piece shows the rich quality that buyers find in the actual work. Be prepared for surprises in the minute details when you receive your work.
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