Spring 2012
Welcome to my Newsletter

Anemones bring a splash of colour into my studio; these fanciful flowers are a perfect 'pick-me-up' for a grey winter day. I have just finished a large watercolour painting and anemones are soon to inspire a striking pattern of stitched lace in magenta, purple and indigo.

These brilliant, showy flowers have been catching the attention of embroiderers and artists for centuries: the fancy 'plush' specimens appear in early needlework, and ornate double anemones feature in Dutch 17th century flower paintings.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh captured the decorative quality of a bouquet of these flowers in his study, 'Anemones', a watercolour painted in 1916. I have always loved the delicate flower studies by Mackintosh and his later stylized floral patterns for textile design.

Touching on historic connections, I have introduced a new section in this Newsletter: 'Vintage Favourites' offers a peek into my archive drawer of embroidered samples.

Retro references are also influencing new directions for future designs, and research is leading me to delve into my Vogue magazines of the 60s and 70s.

My studio in early spring is stirring with a new collection of ideas for embroidered pieces; I shall be exhibiting the results at Art in Action in Oxfordshire, in mid July. At the end of March I shall be demonstrating at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC, Birmingham, a chance to see displays of finished pieces and 'works in progress'.

Inspirations: Liberty print fabric (1968/69)

Inspirations: Fabric samples (Vogue 1969) with threads and beads

Retro References

Research for a new collection of stitched textiles is taking diverse paths: a nostalgic glance at the late 60s is inspiring a freer spirit of bolder floral designs. Collections of bright flowers, such as the anemones, mentioned above, are being explored on a larger scale, catching the essence of the 60s fabrics with their 'pattern and super pattern' (quote from Vogue 1969).

Retro references are a challenge and a spark for different directions, no slavish copies but a springboard for new embroidered creations.

The swirl of Art Nouveau also intertwines my sketchbook doodles, and displayed on my studio pin board is a Liberty print waistcoat that I made circa 1969! This Liberty fabric (see photo left) is probably one of the Art Nouveau Revival designs which were launched in the Swinging Sixties era, this example is quite conservative compared to the vibrant psychedelic revivals sold in The House of Liberty.

My colour palette of threads and fabrics is a purple haze of violet, amethyst, grape, and mauve, mingled with delphinium blues, claret and splashes of magenta; shades evocative of the Biba era,...... oops, nostalgia again!

In Studio

In the last week of February, in need of a colour surge to stir myself into creative action, I bought a bunch of anemones and commenced a large scale (A1) watercolour painting.

The pure surface of the white paper was first splattered with paint, ready for the first flower portrait to evolve stage by stage, from a delicate linear shape into a showy statement of velvety petals in inky purples. Rather like tulips in a vase, the anemones unfurl their closed buds to reveal their true colours and textured centres, twisting their stems in different directions and displaying their fancy ruffs of green fronds. No wonder that the plant fanatics of the 17th century were entranced by their brilliance.

I have deliberately enlarged the scale of the flowers in this botanical study; the drawing is a stepping stone towards a design in stitch.


The October Newsletter featured details of two embroidered lace commissions; both works are now installed in their new homes. The 'Eryngium Lace' panel can be viewed on the Home page of my website, this large scale machine embroidered lace measures 75cm X 100cm, in length.

In the photo right, you can glimpse the final stages of the work being stitched on my old Bernina machine. The technique uses the water-soluble voile fabric as a backing support for the machine-stitch patterns (see Machine lace in the Studio Techniques of my book, 'Embroidered Originals').

The second lace panel: 'Autumnal Lace', echoes the shape of my very first 'Viridis Lace', styled as a flared skirt shape. The colours capture the shift of autumnal colours in my garden in late September, with a flicker of sparkle introduced with Swarovski crystals (a detail of this lace is shown on my Home Page too). I stitched the top of the lace to a silk background, stretched over a wooden frame, allowing for a natural fall of the lace panel as it hangs in situ on the clients wall.

The photo left shows the completed panel.

Vintage Favourites

Historic costume has always inspired my work, with research taking me into the fashion and textile collections of museums. Vintage pieces of embroidery are also now inspiring contemporary trends for fashion embellishment.

For many years I have collected bits and pieces of old embroidery, mainly fashion related items from the 1900s to 1950s, such as appliqué motifs, braided ornaments, machined fragments, and beadwork.

The vintage embroidery I have chosen to show here, rather neatly connects with Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the floral patterns of Paul Poiret. I do not have a precise date for this piece but its style is reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts era, pre First World War.

The stylized rose motifs are embroidered on the finest ecru silk tulle, with insertion strips of black tulle. This fragment from a length of tulle (approx. 75cm), shows the vertical bands of black tulle embroidered with blue leaves and stems, and lines of circular meandering patterns, in ivory.

Sprigs of stylized rose buds (see photo detail) drift across the top and the bolder rose patterns the hemline area. The tiny chain stitch looks like hand tambour work, but this embroidery is more likely an example of machine chain stitch worked on a Cornely machine.

Examples of Cornely embroidery work (1875 - 1914) are to be found in the folios and pattern books of the Textile Library, in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Maybe it is time for me to visit that museum and do some more research!

Meet me in March

Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch'
N.E.C. Birmingham
March 22 - 25

With just three weeks to go before this show, I am busy making the final preparations and planning the design of my space, Stand ZH05

I shall be displaying the 'Hidcote Lace' dress panel (see photo), plus my latest designs and samples for embroidered lace works. The 'Anemones' painting will be on show, together with a selection of design drawings and fashion pieces from my book.

Visitors can experience a peek into my studio life: see 'works in progress'; the related inspiration materials, and the threads and fabrics which come alive as embroidered works of art; displays of fashion drawings with fashion embroideries.

Demonstrations will be happening each day and I shall also be giving a short talk at lunchtimes during the show.

Coming up......

Newsletter 4 will be out in late June:

'Art in Action' preview ...a glimpse of my new embroideries...
'In Studio' inspirations looks at my latest sketchbooks...
'Vintage Favourites' selects another gem from the archive drawer...

And finally...

I am planning a class in the Cotswolds in early autumn, and will send details out towards the end of April.

Note: Embroiderers living in Devon and Cornwall might like to come to my special day in Truro (May 2012). I shall be giving a talk and a 'mini-workshop', for more info please get in touch.

© 2012 Sue Rangeley. All Rights Reserved.
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