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Memories, One Stitch at a Time

Pam O'Brien

Picture Perfect

It has been said that a picture is worth a 1000 words.  But sometimes something comes along for which the words cannot be replaced because, quite simply, it will leave you speechless.  This is the case for the awe-inspiring masterpieces created by Pam O’Brien of Memories, One Stitch At A Time in Youngstown, NY.  While many of us refer to embroidery (and digitizing) as an art-form, Pam O’Brien has taken it to an unimaginable level of sophistication, combining true artistic talent with a keen mastery of embroidery that yields one-of-a-kind, spectacularly-detailed works of art.


In the simplest form of description, O’Brien takes a client’s original photograph and transforms it into an embroidered picture.  But such words don’t give the final product justice, thus she refers to the end result as a tapestry, not a picture. “What I create is a very-detailed rendering that combines elements of cross-stitch and embroidery and may well have up to 1,000,000 (that’s right – one million) stitches when completed,” says O’Brien. “Because of the texture and detail, it looks more like a tapestry than an embroidered picture so the term is much more fitting for the final product.”

This is where O’Brien’s talents really start to come in to play.  “I was a professional photographer in my former life,” she comments. “I worked closely with models, photographing them of course, but also coaching them on how to pose, among other things, in order to catch the best images.  I also worked hard on refining those images as needed to create the best possible product, so I became very proficient in photographic processing techniques.  So with each tapestry job, I take the initial picture and refine it in order to create the core artwork for the project.”

After keeping purposely keeping herself under the radar while developing her special techniques, O’Brien finally reached a level where she was ready to go public and started showing her tapestries at local art shows.   As expected, O’Brien started receiving inquiries which turned into orders.  Though the initial jobs were regional, she has since taken on clients from other States and even Canada.  And as her business has increased so has her recognition as a true Artist.  Says O’Brien, “I was rebuffed by one particular Art Festival when they learned that my tapestries were produced using a machine, as they didn’t consider this to be acceptable to their standards.  But upon review of the creation process, they recognized that what I did was truly an art form and have since allowed me to display my works in their show.”


Going forward, O’Brien would like to expand her reputation on a broader scale, even going worldwide, though she is only willing to take on a limited number of jobs per year. “I only do one tapestry at a time but I get paid well for what I do. And its not about production it’s about creativity, thus I would like to see more unique opportunities to test my skills.”

Truly, Pam O’Brien’s work is probably the most unique application of embroidery we have ever come across in this industry.  It’s a great illustration of what can be done when you combine talent, vision, perseverance and embroidery together.  Though logos are still the number one focus for the industry, there are many untapped markets out there just waiting for someone to discover.


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