“You are what you give” is a popular aphorism on Instagram and when it comes to tokens of love, what we give is becoming evermore personal. A particularly fine example can be found in the intricately appliquéd and embroidered love letters created by Naomi Avsec, visual artist and creator of bespoke needlework label I Love Spoon.
Avsec’s passion for textiles started young, growing up surrounded by handcrafted furnishings and clothes and the folk pieces that her Yugoslavian father brought home. After teaching herself to embroider freehand on a sewing machine and running her own stall at Spitalfields Market, she eventually attracted brands including Liberty and Paul Smith – she won Smith’s custom with a hand-embroidered letter and has since gone on to work with him on many projects, including two exhibitions in his Tokyo gallery space.
Clients tend to share images, quotes, lines from songs and moments that are personal to them, from which Avsec will make an initial sketch before working with thread. The pieces take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks to complete, depending on their complexity. The simplest of letters might start from £175, but more often they’d be £350, with more intricate pieces £500 and up. Commissions come from around the globe and clients are a diverse mix – regulars include a theatrical agent who sends love letters to the directors, writers and actors she works with.
The bigger, ornate works capture a moment in time in the same way that 18th- or 19th-century needlepoints did. “Some clients have been known to pay thousands for larger letters. I like to think these will become heirlooms for families to pass down to the next generation. I really enjoy putting all these personalised elements together in one place, in such a unique way,” says Avsec. “The cherry on the cake is seeing the client’s face at the unveiling.”