Therapist by day, fiber artist by night: meet the Madison embroiderer winning the hearts of TikTok users

  • Post Author
    by News director
  • Post Date
    Thu Apr 06 2023

By: Sarah Kirsch

Photos by: Lexi Spevacek

With over 13,000 followers on TikTok, Virgo Threads creator Sidney Burke gets to take a break from her emotionally heavy full-time job as a therapist through the creative outlet that garnered her following. 

The 24-year-old is a fiber artist based in Madison. The story of her small business Virgo Threads started almost six years ago with a Barnes & Noble embroidery kit and a passion for astrology. After receiving encouragement from friends and family, Burke opened her Etsy shop where she sells patterns and occasionally her own works of art.

Burke began her journey as a fiber artist with embroidery and has since expanded to crocheting, sewing and cross-stitching. 

As a therapist that works with people re-entering society from prison, Burke finds her art meditative and a digestible, friendly escape from her day-to-day life. 

“Getting to live out my inner child through embroidery is really simple, wholesome and disconnecting from the harsh realities of the world,” Burke said. 

While her job is serious and stressful, Burke's art is fun and lighthearted. She enjoys making bright artwork, typically of florals or animals. Her favorite part of making her own art is coming up with her own ideas and deciding what she creates. She feels custom work makes her hobby feel like a job.

Not only does Burke get to take a breather from her job, but she also gets to make up for lost time from her childhood. 

“My sister is actually the artist of the family. She was always the creative, artsy one. I was the smart, boring one. I actually didn't really allow myself to do my creative side until I was an adult,” she said. 

When Burke bought an embroidery kit from Barnes & Noble, she picked it up quickly and decided to continue. What started from boredom, thinking the kit looked cool and a natural skill for it became a small business. 

“It's not something I allowed myself to try really hard. Because I was like, ‘oh, I'm a book person.' I didn't think it was my forte until I allowed myself to try it,” Burke said. 

Alongside selling patterns, kits and original pieces on Etsy, Burke has attended several art markets to showcase her work and meet fellow artists in the area. 

She appeared in the fall National Alliance on Mental Illness in Wisconsin show, which showcased artists with experiences struggling with mental health. 

“That was the first big step I took to have my art out in public. There's a difference between posting a picture on Instagram or a video on TikTok and an official thing,” she said. 

Burke also had a table in the Madison Makers Market in February. Through this, Burke has already fulfilled her yearly goals for her small business. She will be in another Madison Makers Market on April 8 and hopes to attend more in the future. 

Virgo Threads is currently only on TikTok, Etsy and Instagram. Burke hopes to keep creating art and content and meeting fellow artists in the area. 

“Some people say embroidery is a dying art, but I don't think they pay attention. I think it's still very alive and well, and people still want to put a lot of time and effort into it,” Burke said.