Charles and Elin – A love story and a shared creative passion
Charles Henry and Elin Patronella first met over coffee in a Parisian café in October 2016. They quickly discovered they shared a passion for art and creativity and within a week the pair were living together and planning future adventures.
Over the past two years they have not been settled in one place but instead have spent a great amount of time travelling and documenting cities and places they have visited by creating detailed embroideries. “We started out in Paris for the first 1 year and bit we were together,” Elin relays. “Thereafter we had a base in Arcachon in the South West of France for five months in the spring of 2018 and would travel from there. During the summer we weren’t really based anywhere, but travelled around Sweden, Norway, Denmark and to Paris. This was also the preparation months for our wedding that took place in Sweden last September). In the fall of 2018 we were based in Lisbon.”
We caught up with Charles and Elin from their new home in Falsterbo in south-west Sweden. After extensive travels the pair were keen have a more permanent base and space for their creativity and growing business. “For the first time since we met we can say that we have a dedicated work and creative space!” Elin says enthusiastically. “This was the greatest motivation for us to move to Sweden as we were able to find a spacious house to rent in nature. Now we are finally free from the distractions of a buzzing city and have a big space to properly work. It’s been the best decision we made so far on both a personal and business level to come back here. (It’s the village where I grew up.) As we spent so much time traveling we’ve got a pile of images and inspiration and now it’s just time to get to work. We will still never stop travelling, and we frequently go back to Paris as Charles’ mother lives there. But to be able to have a lunch break walk down to the beach (500m from our house) is just pure heaven. We feel incredibly fortunate and motivated to create at our best potential.”
When they met, Charles was working as fashion photographer (and had studied fine arts), while Elin was completing a degree in politics, philosophy and economic and spent much of her spare time drawing and creating with needle and thread. Elin’s creative skills are self-taught and after they met, she in turn taught Charles to embroider.
Together they have designed and created over 25 architecturally inspired embroideries which as available for sale as PDF patterns of their website (charlesandelin.com). But will architecture remain the focus for their subject matter? “This depends on who you’re asking,” Elin smiles. “Charles has already shifted between various subjects but still within the realm of embroidery. For my part I have always been fascinated with architecture and have been doing urban/architectural sketches for nearly 10 years, so I don’t see myself stop doing that in the near future. But who knows. We’re always open to learning new crafts and we both love illustration and painting as well so we might explore that later on. But for now, we’re still all about the fibres. There is just something so satisfying with being able to touch what you create.”
Elin continues, “Most of our designs are first born as drawings on paper, which we then transfer to the fabrics. The actual stitching process on the other hand is an organic process as we rarely decide in advance which colours or techniques that we will use before we start. So in short you could say that it’s a combination of both. For Charles it’s often a process of imaginative drawing, whereas I often take inspiration from images I’ve taken on our travels.”
With so much creativity and so many ideas swimming around the couple deal quite differently with starting and completing projects. We asked whether they each have many designs on the go at one time. “Charles certainly does!” Elin laughs. “He is an expert at starting new projects! Though the good thing is that he always acts on his ideas and tries them out before he decides if they’re worth completing or not. I on the other hand am a bit more meticulous in my process. I like to finish everything I start and can feel overwhelmed if I have too many projects going on at the same time. That said, I still usually have at least two projects that I can alternate between. And I also work on some personal knitting to just shift things up and try to push myself to be in a flow of continuous productivity.”
For 2019, Charles and Elin have set themselves some slightly different goals and priorities. “Ironically enough, one of the goals for this year is to actually scale down our travelling. We feel that we really need to find a base and get to work on all the inspiration and knowledge that we’ve created,” Elin details. “Not only is traveling expensive but it takes enormous time and effort to not have a home, which we’ve found to be the greatest limitation to fully grow as creatives and business owners. Instead of focusing too much on where to go next, we want to shift that focus into how we can share our journey and inspire others on their creative path as well. Thus our teaching priorities for 2019 are fully on developing our online courses to be the best resources they can be. We’ve also been doing a series of Live Online workshops since the beginning of the year, which has been an incredible experience in connecting with people Live from all over the world without the graphical limitation. Furthermore, in that way we’re able to provide value at accessible prices for everyone to take part in the embroidery movement. We currently have three online courses on our Charles and Elin Academy: Embroidery on Clothes (developed as a result of having a very limited wardrobe during our travels and need to spice things up), Architectural Hand Embroidery and Architectural Threadpainting. We’re currently working on our next course on how to create your own embroidery designs to push people further in the exploration of their creativity as well. If there is anyone there reading and curious of the architectural style or just want to give embroidery a go but don’t know how we have a free pattern from our time in Paris that everyone can access on our website charlesandelin.com Learning should be inspiring and accessible and we want to give that to as many as possible.”
Discover more at charlesandelin.com and you can follow Charles and Elin on Instagram: @petronella.art and @_charleshenry_