Embroidering as a transformative occupation

Heidi Von Kurthy, Kay Aranda, Gaynor Sadlo, Graham Stew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The influence of arts on health has long been researched but often in general terms or related to a patient population. Specific practice within everyday life remains under investigated. In this paper I argue that embroidering is an occupation where limited knowledge exists about how engagement might influence health. This qualitative narrative inquiry-based study was situated in the United Kingdom and gathered discursive data over 6 months with five women who embroidered. The research question aimed to establish how embroidering influences meaningful change within the context of a person’s everyday life. Interpreted through narrative analysis, the findings suggest that embroidering can promote meaningful change through an intimate companionship of body, mind, and materials. This companionship is situated, reciprocal, develops over time, and is proposed as the means for health potential. Once established, this companionship provides resources that can be used to manage everyday life and thus promote health and well-being. Considered as active agents in the embroidering process, materials can incite a combination of mental and physical responses, which become meaningful experiences associated with embroidering. These experiences may explain the recent fervour of crafting in everyday western societies and supports research that shows that the arts are a crucial component of health and well-being. In line with global health initiatives, consideration of the therapeutic companionship of body, mind, and materials is needed to further explore the transformative potential of engagement in specific crafts as media for improving and sustaining health and well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Occupational Science
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2022


  • Occupational science
  • Health promotion
  • Occupational engagement
  • Textiles
  • Materials
  • Crafts
  • Narrative


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