Spring 2014
Welcome to my Newsletter

A bouquet of winter white flora is inspiring my creative thoughts towards embroidery. The quieter palettes of whites, creams, ivories catch my imagination and, forgetting dull February, I think of the wonderful White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle in summer created by Vita Sackville West.

Just as the famous Red Border at Hidcote Manor Garden inspired me to stitch a dress panel of floral lace textures, perhaps Vita's influence will shape a new creation for my exhibition in May.

I have always been fascinated by the history of fashion, the fabrics of the past and the stories that pervade them. The interplay of design references from vintage clothes continue to filter into my creative embroidery, my 2013 exhibition, entitled 'Fashioned with Stitch' explored such themes. My current muse is a sepia photograph of my grandmother, dressed in the uniform of the Women's Legion, circa 1915; a poignant snapshot starts a fresh direction for a contemporary textile (see photo in 'Open Studio Exhibition'). This new work is also planned for my coming exhibition, with three months to go, I had better get stitching!

For 'Vintage Favourites', I have unwrapped some of my World War 1 silk embroidered postcards to feature in the Newsletter. Every time I look at these treasured mementoes, I am touched by both the beauty of the delicate embroidery, and the hand written messages to loved ones.

Recently I was interviewed for the textile magazine, Filzfun, about my work and life as a textile artist (Published March 5, The interview took me back to 1974 and my first encounter on a workshop with the charismatic Constance Howard, who sparked my decision to set up a professional embroidery studio.

So, 40 years on, I hope to be celebrating with a lot of creativity in my studio in 2014!

I shall look forward to meeting some of you at my exhibition in May.

Meet me in March

Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch at the N.E.C., Birmingham, 20 - 23 March 2014.

This year I have been invited to be a guest demonstrator on the Madeira stand; visitors will see an exciting array of machine embroideries using Madeira threads and water-soluble stabilizers.

Plus a chance to view my latest samples which I am creating for my 'Open Studio' exhibition in May. (Demonstrations: 10am - 4.30 daily).

'Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch' is a showcase for some of the UK'S finest textile arts; exhibition highlights include 'Les Miserables' Costumes by Paco Delado and exquisite Palestinian embroideries in the exhibit, 'A Palestinian Journey'.

Photo credit: Emily Gale

'Open Studio' Exhibition in Oxfordshire

The chilly winter months of January and February are a favourite time for hibernating and being creative in my garden studio. With just a few months until my 'Open Studio' exhibition in May I am getting ready to commence new works.

Prior to even touching my sewing machine I gather a jigsaw of references to influence design, juxtaposing the different facets of visual inspiration on mood boards. A photograph of my grandmother, dressed in WW1 uniform of the Women's Legion emerges as a keystone for a new design collection. Khaki starts the colour mood for textured threads, with nature's palette enriching the mix with deeper shades of olive and crimson (see photo of 'mood board'). A story in stitch begins……………..and a series of embroidered samples for my May exhibition, fingers crossed!

In contrast to the earthy tones of khaki, another inspiration theme pursues the romance of whites, ivories, creams. My imagination turns to a legendary garden, the writings of Vita Sackville West and a box of Edwardian lace, references of the past infuse a design for a contemporary stitched lace (see photo of 'mood board').

As well as the larger, more complex embroideries, I am enjoying a return to the 'Swinging Sixties' era for design research, to indulge in floral nostalgia for another collection of embroidered accessories.

The show will also feature the 2013 collection of embroideries created for 'Fashioned with Stitch', at The Macclesfield Silk Museum. Botanical paintings and drawings will be displayed alongside the textile works.

'Open Studio' Exhibition: May 10, 11,12,16,18. Times: 12-6 daily. Details and directions for Sue's studio please email: or telephone: 07596 441503.

This event is part of Oxfordshire Artweeks 2014

Pop-up Studio in Cambridgeshire

On April 5th I shall be working in my 'Pop-up Studio' at the Embroiderers' Guild AGM at Wyboston Lakes, St Neots.

Visitors to this meeting will be able to pop in to the studio display during the afternoon and browse samples, see demonstrations.

The first time I took my studio 'on the road' was as part of a Crafts Council Textile Tour to Yorkshire in 1979- a memorable trip; my travelling companions were Michael Brennand- Wood, Kaffe Fassett, Roger Oates, and Geraldine St. Aubyn Hubbard, all of us are still busy working in textiles too!

I am also planning another 'Pop-up' event within a garden setting during the summer. The experience of working 'in residence' at Hidcote Manor Garden in 2012 was truly inspiring (remember my 'Hidcote Lace' dress panel!), so I am hoping to stitch away in another English garden this year.

For details of The Embroiderers' Guild AGM:

Photo credit: Michael Wicks

Detail of embroidered choker 2013.
Photo credit: Emily Gale.

Accent on Accessories

Patterns of the late 1960s and early 1970s influenced a series of machine-embroidered accessories for last year's show.

The romance of 'flower power' continues to swirl around embellished chokers with flowing fringes, and machine stitched lace accessories, for collections in 2014.

Floral nostalgia in stitched sugar candy shades, or monochrome mixes of greys, charcoal, splashed with yellow.

Exploring the dimensions of accessories with stitch challenges decorative design in a variety of directions; whether bijoux embellished bags or intriguing textile jewellery, embroidery can bedazzle and conjure a little magic!

Vintage Favourites

Selections from my archive drawer to inspire and enjoy.

First World War Postcards

These embroidered mementoes of the Great War strike a very poignant note as we reflect on that time, a hundred years ago.

The cards were embroidered by thousands of French women, and children too; they were given rolls of muslin, bobbins of silk, and the transfer designs to create the embroidered patterns, using satin and stem stitches. A huge variety of silk cards were produced for the soldiers serving in France and Belgium to send back home. Many were intricately embroidered with regimental crests, flags and patriotic words; others were decorated with flowers, birds, and garlands which were sent as love tokens to sweethearts, or birthday wishes for family.

Sometimes the designs were imposed of two pieces of muslin, creating an envelope to slip in another tiny greeting card for a personal note. It is amazing that these beautiful cards survived the rigours of the wartime post, but they were protected by specially made sepia pellucid envelopes.

For me, the cards evoke mixed feelings: the decorated card fronts delicately stitched in silk floss naturally appeal, with their words, mottos, flags and flora, treasured by families for years in albums; while the hand written messages in pale pencil on the reverse always provoke reflection.

I have only one silk postcard, sent by a woman, called Rosalind, to her 'dear sweetheart'; it is beautifully embroidered with the badge of the WAAC, her regiment. Now that historic memento sits in my studio, inspiring the latest jigsaw of design references for a new stitched lace.

Textile Workshop in the Cotswolds

In August I shall be teaching a 2 day class at the Farncombe Estate, near Broadway; the workshop is a fusion of design inspiration and machine embroidery techniques.

Farncombe offers excellent full board residential accommodation in ensuite rooms. August 19th & 20th (residents arrive on August 18th from 4.30pm). Full details of workshop theme and costs from from late February.

And finally...

Drifts of snowdrops always herald the end of winter and the beginnings of spring. The images (right) were taken recently in the gardens of Chastleton House, a Jacobean house in Oxfordshire

I am reminded of the winter cool of my 'Frost' embroideries, created in 2010. One 'Frost' Stomacher panel, featured in 'Embroidered Originals', now resides in the permanent Textile Collection of another National Trust house, Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire.

Photo: Winter cool, snowdrops at Chastleton.

© 2014 Sue Rangeley. All Rights Reserved.
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