Spring 2016
Welcome to my Newsletter
Blue Skies and Blossom

An uplifting caption to commence this Spring Newsletter as the latest studio work has been inspired by early spring blossoms of a Prunus tree. Instead of tulips and anemones sparking creativity out of winter hibernation, this year my eyes have enjoyed the patterns of bare branches, studded with tiny white flowers, against bright-blue winter skies. Embroidery thoughts are in cherry blossom heaven as I put the finishing touches to a new work for a special exhibition in Vancouver, opening in March (see Exhibiting in Vancouver).

For extra insights into studio life, my blog: stitchstudio, which went live in autumn/15, is a monthly diary of creative embroidery news. The focus for the 2016 blog will be studio snippets on themes from my forthcoming book ; no publication date as yet, but the Bernina is ready to go, full speed ahead, as I complete new creations, and write the text over the next few months. In Studio Inspirations shares images that Michael Wicks took last year for the book.

With a busy schedule ahead, my calendar of workshops and lectures for 2016 is rather slim! But I am looking forward to summer engagements in Leicestershire (Kick-start Workshop), a special lecture in Lincolnshire, and a ‘Pop-up’ appearance at an Embroiderers’ Guild Regional Day in Nottinghamshire.

Finally, I cannot wait to see the new fashion exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, ‘Undressed – a brief history of underwear’, opening April 16th. With delicate finery in mind, I have chosen the lingerie theme as an inspiration for Vintage Favourites.

Exhibiting in Vancouver

Cherry Blossoms: A Textile Translation

March 22 – April 10   Silk Purse Gallery, West Vancouver.

Vancouver is a city close to my heart, I have taught several embroidery workshops there over the years. So when my Canadian friend, Bonnie, mentioned the Cherry Blossom exhibit, the theme immediately caught my imagination, wonderful to think of a haze of pink blossom on a chilly January day!

This exhibition is held in conjunction with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual event. In the 1930s the mayors of Kobe and Yokohama gifted 50 cherry trees to Vancouver, planted at the Japanese cenotaph in memory of the Japanese Canadians who served in the First World War. More trees were planted in the 1950s, and today the city streets are lined with beautiful blossom trees during springtime.

And so my ‘Blossom’ embroidery (see photo detail) will be part of this textile show, alongside other embroideries by Canadian exhibitors. As I started sketching ideas for the ‘Cherry Blossom’ creation, I enjoyed a nostalgic moment, remembering a visit to Kyoto (1993), on a break from my Tokyo show; the fluttering pink blossoms in the temple gardens were stunning. Design research also referenced the historic painted silk Japanese screens and scrolls; my eye was attracted to the oriental style and composition.

The bare branch structures of early spring blossom trees suggested a starting point: twisted stems/ branches influenced cords, stitched in metallic thread, forming a network of linear patterns, then studded with petite petal flowers of stitched silk. The shape looks to fashion necklines, accessories; stitch conjures a romantic trail of blossom.

Only a detail of ‘Blossom’ is shown here, perhaps the final piece might make another appearance in a book, or feature in a studio open day in 2017. It is some years since I exhibited overseas, so I am excited to be part of the ‘Cherry Blossom’ show; the flutter of silk petals has me entranced, I’m in the mood for more springtime stitching!

In Studio Inspirations

Some ideas for embroidery works linger in my head for a long time, exactly two years ago I started research on a very different theme, inspired by women’s uniforms of the First World War (remember Spring Newsletter 2014!).

Creative embroidery always plays with diverse ingredients and reference material; in my studio, a pin-board and display chest reflect such a mix, ready to commence a fresh design departure. This time, threads embrace a spectrum of earth shades, flashed with scarlet; textures range from viscose sheen, into matt surfaces using cotton and wool machine threads. I plan using embellishment details more challenging than Czech glass and Swarovski crystal; I am looking at brass buttons, metal fastenings and beyond!

Where will this lead, I am not sure yet, but that is the thrill a new artistic journey with creative stitch. From a first hazy thought into a tangible textile, I am looking forward to plunging into a different stitching direction, shaping a new stitch story for another chapter in the book.

No samples ready yet for the newsletter, just a teasing peek through the lens of Michael Wicks (photographer for Embroidered Originals, 2010), with a few studio shots of the inspiration sets.

Photo credit: Michael Wicks

Vintage Favourites

A peek into my archive drawer…………………

Underwear Inspirations!

I have just read Colin McDowell’s excellent feature in the V&A magazine, in advance of the new fashion exhibition: ‘Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear’, which opens in April. The V&A exhibition, curated by Edwina Ehrman, promises to be an exquisite glimpse into the world of underwear fashion through the centuries, from 18thc. stays to contemporary pieces by Agent Provocateur. Inspired by the theme, I have delved into the vintage lingerie drawer!

Historic underwear is a fascinating source of inspiration for designers and textile artists. The art of corsetry is often referenced in couture eveningwear, and diaphanous lingerie sheers continue to influence delicate daywear layers. The embroidered bodice samples created for ‘Embroidered Originals’ (pages 26-27), were directly inspired by images of basques in a 1957 Harper’s Bazaar!

From my textile archives, I have chosen two very different items: one an example of pure corsetry; the other, an embroidered evening top inspired by a camisole shape. The peach satin ‘cathedral brassiere’ by Twilfit is miniscule, worn under strapless evening gowns; I like the design precision of boned panels, enhanced with peach lace, narrow back panels are pierced with elastic gussets. Corsetry construction is complex, but offers intriguing ideas for creative stitch. (Photo: detail of front panels)

The simplicity of a camisole style with slender straps is reinvented as a small piece of luxury evening wear, designed by Carolina Herrera, New York. The fabric surface is beautifully conceived and crafted; with moving strands of beads enhancing patterns of Cornelly embroidery (see photos). A free spirited fashion destined to sparkle on the dance floor, a style echoing 1920s beaded flapper dresses which also danced the night away!

‘Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear’
16 April 2016 – 12 March 2017

And finally...

Look out for the publication Creative with Workbox, Sue's fully illustrated article for the magazine is out on April 8 (May/June issue).

The Spring Newsletter ends with an anemone sketch (detail of 2015 painting). A favourite flower of mine, which always inspires embroidery designs, on that note I shall start stitching on the Bernina, and conjure a creation for the book!

Next Newsletter will be Autumn 2016, but follow my blog for the latest studio news.

© 2016 Sue Rangeley. All Rights Reserved.
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