Artist Aury Morillo's talents shine with cross stitch patterns.
Artist Aury Morillo’s skills are on point – needle point. The mother of two owns and operates AuryTM Designs, where she creates and sells cross stitch patterns, a type of embroidery that uses stitches that are x shaped.
“Everybody thinks that TM stands for trademark, but really it is my middle and last names – Torres Morillo. It started out as just a signature. I never expected it to be a business name,” Morillo said.
Growing up in Venezuela, she would spend many hours with her paternal grandmother, who loved to do counted cross stitch. At the age of 5, Morillo learned to stitch.
“My grandma was stitching. I was pestering her as a child. Fortunately, she was a wise woman and told me, ‘I’m doing a tablecloth; you can help me with the napkins.’ They were literally five stitches that created a flower,” she said. “Grandma was also a perfectionist so if I did not do it right, I would have to do it again and again. Things at the beginning were not too much fun but now I’m so grateful for that.”
The Monroe resident is married to Dr. Miguel Morillo, an anesthesiologist. They have two children, Laura, 25, and Miguel Jr. 23.
In 2007, Morillo started online journaling, which included her cross stitch designs. She began sharing her creations of small animals with Quaker motifs inside them. Two years later, the blog turned into a business.
“In 2009, I opened an Etsy store followed by an online show. That led to a call from a distributor. At first, I thought that it was a practical joke from one of my friends. When I realized that it was real, I was ecstatic!” Morillo said. “My daughter Laura is my business partner. She is in charge of the printing and distribution. She also deals with the stores that do direct sales with us and even stitches some of the small designs. I would not be able to do this without her help.”
The mother-daughter duo work with a company that distributes the patterns. Currently, Morillo’s designs are sold in more than 400 stores in the United States and around the world in 37 other countries.
Many of the designs reflect Morillo’s personality. Her first pattern was “A Wicked Accident,” a witch that crashed into a pumpkin while flying her broom.
“She shouldn’t be texting while flying!” she said with a laugh.
Some patterns run in a series like “The Gobble Couple,” round and whimsical turkeys, like George and Martha Gobblestone, dressed for Thanksgiving. Another series, “The Snow Row,” depicts a variety of snowmen and snowwomen welcoming winter, Morillo’s favorite time of year. In 2014, to celebrate becoming an American citizen, she designed “American Pride,” a Quaker-inspired map of America.
The “Quaker Fantasies” was inspired by childhood tales and books. “Alice” and “The Nutcracker” patterns are popular with customers, but the artist’s favorite is “Heritage Sampler.”
“I did it in my grandma’s memory,” she said. “I thought about her the whole time, while designing it and while stitching it. After 10 years, it is still my favorite.”
Last month, Morillo released “Jane Hyde,” a reproduction of a cross stitch piece created from the 18th century. While working on it, she tried to replicate the colors from the original.
“One day, my neighbor knocked on my door and told me, ‘My wife has a really old cross stitched piece that I’m sure you would like.’ To my delight it was a piece from 1790. With his permission, I was able to do a reproduction of the piece. The only difference between the original and (my design) is that the original was stitched on 55 count and mine is stitched on 40 count,” she said. “It’s an accurate reproduction as I even kept the ‘mistakes’ of the piece."
"Having the name and year, the only Jane Hyde I could find was living in Maryland at the time and was 12 years old. It’s impressive that a 12-year-old could do so many special stitches and such a beautiful piece,” she said.
Over the years, Morillo estimates she’s designed and has stored more than 900 patterns on her computer. As an artist, she draws her inspiration from her surroundings. Ideas may come from something someone said on a TV show or a suggestion from a fan. Creating a pattern can take a couple of hours to several weeks. Like her grandmother, Morillo is a perfectionist and won’t stop working until she is completely satisfied with the result.
Depending on the pattern, she typically stitches on linen and uses DMC embroidery thread. The size of the design is determined by the number of stitches.
“The fabric count is the amount of stitches that you can make in one inch. For example, in Aida 16 count (fabric), you can make 16 stitches in one inch,” she said. “Knowing that count and your design size you can calculate the amount of fabric that you will need in a project.”
For beginners, Morillo suggests starting out with something small to stitch.
“As your confidence grows, your projects will, too. In my opinion, starting with a large design may create frustration as well as overwhelm you,” she said. “There is no need to rush it. Try to do your back as neat as you can but don’t get obsessed with that. Always keep in mind that this is for fun.”
She said hobbies like cross stitch are making a surge in popularity among the arts.
“Ten or 12 years ago, it was not common to find teenagers and even people in their 20s enjoying the craft,” she added. “Nowadays, it is common to find them cross stitching, even young kids. It’s no longer ‘grandma’s pastime.’ ”
Morillo hopes her creations will inspire a new generation of stitchers to get into the hobby and maybe start a business one day.
More information about AuryTM Designs can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/QuakerFantasiesByAuryTM