Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  

Designers and Floral Interpretation
An interview with four reknowned designers

by Rita Vainius

Part I of II (Part II to be continued in the May Feature Column)

We are all familiar with the Shakespearian expression, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." So too, a rose may be portrayed in a myriad of different styles, mediums, techniques and colors and appear just as lovely in each artistic interpretation. To exemplify this concept, we have interviewed several renowned needlework designers regarding their approach to floral design, complemented by examples of their floral design originals. The designers featured are Sue Stehle of Sekas &Co., Julie Thompson of Julie Mar Needlepoint, Carolyn Hook of It's a Crewel World and Janice Gaynor of Janice Gaynor Design.

Q: What is your approach to floral design?

Sue: My "Watercolour" [thread] designs are probably best described as geometric designs. I usually incorporate florals with other motifs.

Julie: I use a traditional, realistic approach to designing flowers and outdoor scenes.

Carolyn: My floral designs are realistic, yet somewhat stylized and Jacobean in genre. Mostly, they feature flower motifs exclusively. I do traditional Japanese embroidery which on occasion influences my style.

Janice: The flowers I design are usually stylized and impressionistic in nature. I usually combine floral designs with a series of geometrical borders, sometimes interrupting the border with a petal or leaf.


Q: Do you visualize the design in your mind or use a model for reference?

Sue : Most of the time, I visualize the design in my mind first and I'm thrilled when the stitched design becomes the design that I visualized.

Julie: I visualize the design in my mind and sometimes it evolves into something else, quite unexpected. When designing I work like an artist.

Carolyn: Nearly always, I visualize the design in my mind and the end result is usually what I've envisioned, though it may vary slightly in a change of color value or perhaps a stitch.

Janice: I decide on "the look" I'm after first. I base this on my mood at the time unless it's a special request. Each design takes on a life of its own at one point or another and unless I personally like the design it won't be shown to the public. In my experience, the best designing happens when I don't try or "work at it."


Q: What color schemes do you use and how do you select them?

Sue: My color schemes depend on what I am designing. Many times I begin with a "Watercolour [thread] and add some solid colors. Other times a "Watercolour" will spark a design idea.

Julie: I use realistic colors from nature to depict florals.

Carolyn: My colors are realistic - I try to stay with actual color corresponding to traditional Jacobean colors.

Janice: The colors I use vary depending on my mood. My designs range from soft infant pastels to rich ethnic metallics and jewel tones. I have incorporated flowers, from teeny and delicate to large, splashy and brightly colored, into everything from baby Christmas stockings to large formats which have been used for chair backs and area rugs.


Q: What stitching techniques and interpretation do you employ for floral?

Sue: I try to create textures in my designs by using a variety of stitches.

Julie: I really love tent stitches. I think there is nothing more beautiful than a classically designed piece done in tent stitch with exceptional threads.

Carolyn: I use crewel embroidery, especially long and short stitch to achieve shading and to create the effect of "painting" on fabric with threads. I use various crewel stitches to create dimension.

Janice: I really don't stitch needlepoint and never consider what stitches would be used. Maybe I should. I do however imagine how a particular floral design or any other design may be used: pillow, seat or chair cover, wall hanging, belt, footstool etc.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No part of this feature story nor the included designs can be reproduced or distributed in any form (including electronic) or used as a teaching tool without the prior written permission of the CARON Collection Ltd. or the featured designers.

Regardless of the floral motif depicted, the personal style of the designer and their artistic interpretation, the bottom line is that ultimately "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," as well as the designer!

This special interview describing how professional needlework designers approach floral design will be continued in our May Feature Column. Please stay tuned!.

For more information about each designer's work and availability, please refer to the specifics below.

Sue Stehle: Sekas & Co.
1114 N.Court #112
Medina, OH 44256
(800) 714-5513

Julie Thompson: Julie Mar Needlepoint
28 Battery Park Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 254-8893

Carolyn Hook: It's a Crewel World
231 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-9696

Janice Gaynor: Janice Gaynor Design is distributed by
JB Designs
18344 Oxnard Street #109
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 776-1787

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No part of this feature story nor the included designs can be reproduced or distributed in any form (including electronic) or used as a teaching tool without the prior written permission of the CARON Collection Ltd. or the featured designers.

© 1997 The Caron Collection Ltd./ Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com