Reimagining Needlepoint With Mommani Threads
by Cheryl Westbrook
Tell the truth, what comes to mind when you hear the word needlepoint? If you’re like most, the visual is a bespeckled grandmother sitting in a rocker, stitching a pastoral scene, replete with Holstein-Friesian cows and a red barn.
Mommani Threads flips the needlepoint perception upside down and inside out. I, Cheryl, founder and designer marry the old with the new; the discarded into the lively repurposed. My accidental journey into the upcycled world began as a matter of practicality.
Needlepoint is an expensive art. Really expensive. Canvases are hand-painted by artisans and then stitched primarily with Persian and Merino wool tapestry threads.
(If anyone ever makes you a needlepoint pillow, they must really like you a lot!)
My love of needlework exceeded the pocketbook, so I began sourcing blank canvases and threads at thrift shops. Not a painter by nature, I found that with simple pencil outlines and creative intuition, I could stitch original designs, stream-of-consciousness.
This process speaks to trusting oneself and allowing what is inside to freely flow, without judgment. For me, this didn’t translate into red barns, but into whimsical animals with starry-eyed faces; smart-alecky quotes; sexy, sassy, pouty lips, “girls” and eyes.
Of course, these ideas don’t materialise in a vacuum. They are truly the physical manifestation of many things seen, heard, experienced, shared, saved.
Dwell and Vogue have their place, but my greatest inspirations are my family, animals, music, and the outdoors.
I live in a small mountain town in Western NC. The beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains envelops me and gifts me daily, whether I’m hiking or simply driving to get some chocolate, I’m moved by the simplest of images. I absorb these snapshots and find they appear in my art, more often than not - as abstract - such as a pistil, or an extraordinary color combination.
A dear friend often said, “Walking is the path to consciousness.” My mountain hikes, often solo and often off the beaten path, are my guideposts. They open my soul as an interconnected and creative being.
My family IS Mommani Threads.
The name (pronounced Moh, mah, knee) means “Mama’s boys” and is an unintentional misspelling of the Italian word “mammoni.” I saw a “60 Minutes” segment years ago about the mammonis, men who are happy to live with their moms until well into their 30’s.
My sons were young and I never wanted them to leave. I immediately adopted this moniker (of course I did) but am happy to report that they grew up, they flew away, and we all are pretty happy about it. (I think it was my cooking…)
My sons remain an integral part of the business. They contribute their thoughts, their impressions and boundless, loving support. I am inspired by their artwork and use it to create my canvases.
A great example is the sculpted monster pillows. They’re Sawyer’s drawings as a child.
My eldest son Dakota also shares his art through ink images and photography. It’s his vision that gives Mommani its edge and playfulness. It’s his long-term girlfriend, Camerin, who poses with the textiles and gives them personality. She’s our unofficial Brand Ambassador!
The business exists because my sister and niece, who loved my quirky designs, encouraged and insisted I open the door. Gathered on the bed, as lounge kitties are prone to do, we coalesced our ideas into a unique business model: my needlepoint would not be created as wool facsimiles in China. Mommani designs would be shared via earth-friendly fabric reproductions.
This unconventional model allows me to translate my work into decor beyond pillows, but most importantly it allows me to stay local. From the beginning to the end, everything is hand made and created in NC; or sourced from small USA business owners.
We like to share our work as textural, holdable pieces of art. Eclectic and sensual home decor that establishes an emotional connection with you.
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