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

Across the Atlantic to the banks of the Rhine River in Germany for our Designer Spotlight on...

Martina Weber
By Rita Vainius

Duisburg, Germany, Martina Weber's hometown, is situated on the banks of the Rhine River, a wonderfully green and romantic setting. Her grandfather made his livelihood as a master upholsterer, and Martina's early exposure to his work and the tools of his trade have had a profound influence on her. She acknowledges him for imbuing her with a love for fine fabrics and the appreciation of fine hand craftsmanship. (Click here for Martina's FREE pattern.)

At the gymnasium (high-school) Martina attended, classes in "home-making" and "feminine crafts"(sewing, cooking etc.) were taught as part of the regular curriculum. The needlework skills were taught by an elderly nun, Sister Ruth, who carried a very sharp pair of scissors. When the work was not as tidy on the "back" as it should be, she just took out those "mean, old scissors and snip-snip, cut open the offending rows of stitches." Martina rapidly learned to do the work flawlessly!

After completing her university studies and working as a computer assistant at a library, Martina married Michael Weber, a computer networks technician. When their daughter, Manuela, was born in 1989, Martina settled into being an at-home mom. Thanks to that welcome hiatus from the usual work-day grind, Martina had opportunity to discover her "real profession" honing her embroidery skills and developing her talent for embroidery design. With Michael's computer savvy, this hobby developed into a career much sooner than would ever have been possible otherwise.

It was Michael who found the RCTN (recreation, crafts, textiles, needlework discussion group) on the Internet. Through this group Martina "met" friends with similar interests from all over the world, was exposed to exciting new ideas and became aware of the bounty of threads, fabrics, beads and other products available to stitchers, many of which she had never seen before. Case in point: The Caron Collection, which has become an indispensable mainstay of her thread inventory.

After visiting her first professional needlework exhibition in Maastricht, Netherlands, Martina had a brainstorm: why not go into business selling her own designs? With Michael's encouragement, Martina traveled from shop to shop and got enthusiastic receptions. She then submitted her designs to a German magazine "Creative Nadewelt" (Creative Needleworld) and some were immediately accepted. One magazine printed an article she wrote on Chinese double-sided embroidery (thank you Sister Ruth!), illustrated with her designs of blooming peach blossoms and a butterfly as examples. Martina has several cross stitch designs of scarecrows which will be published in "Anna" sometime this fall.

Because Martina so enjoys change and experimentation, her designs cannot be strictly categorized. They range from subtle and subdued in theme, texture and tone to sharp, bright, colorful patterns with brilliant sparkles and a very festive flair. She favors finely detailed work which integrates luxurious silk threads and beads, embroidered on fine linen. Designs in this style were among the first that she marketed under her company name, "Chatelaine," a series depicting the four seasons using Caron threads, embellished with beads. "Flamingo Elegance," her newest design to be launched, employs the Caron "Flamingo" threads from the Waterlilies Collection. Martina's "Country Kitchen" designs, consisting of cross stitch patterns highlighting brightly colored settings, is executed in "picture-book" style, which radiates a naive, fresh quality. These contrast with a more formal series featuring elegant ladies attired in period costume amid charming antique settings. This design collection will be launched in the near future, but on our website, you are being treated to a preview.


Martina's designs can evolve just from sitting in her garden, watching the play of sunlight on the colors and textures of the trees and flowers mingling into each other. Fleeting impressions of shapes and colors as revealed in sunsets or cloud formations also feed her fertile imagination. Vacations, though infrequent, are an invigorating fount for fresh themes. Having returned recently from a holiday in Austria, Martina's mind is filled with images of lofty snow-capped mountain peaks and lavishly blooming meadows teaming with wildflowers.

Another series showcasing flowers done in silk ribbon is the direct outgrowth of Martina's other passion: painting on white porcelain. She loves to work on this pristine surface with flower motifs as represented in the "Meissen Manier"tradition (an18th century style of painting flowers and animals), using fine brushwork on miniature platines to be worn as brooches and pendants or working in larger format to decorate vases, plates and cups. It is always a gamble, that the heat level required to fire these pieces in the kiln, will not crack these fragile artifacts, after dozens of hours have been devoted to creating a still life vignette. At least, there is no such inherent risk in devoting time to her embroidery projects!

Martina adopted her business name to express her intense passion for needlework and her admiration for the antique "chatelaines" that were worn at the waistline by medieval women working on their tapestries. Chatelaine, in this sense, refers to a sort of brooch of metal (usually silver), with a fine link chain which held the essential needleworker's tools: scissors, needle case, thimble etc. Chatelaine could also denote the mistress of the Castle, from the French word for castle, chateau, as well as the bundle of tools or keys she kept at her waist, fastened with a hook.

Having inherited from her grandfather a trunk-full of vintage fabrics and old silk scarves, Martina is just itching to incorporate these into a crazy quilt. In conjunction with these textiles, Martina visualizes using the Caron overdyed threads and ribbons to adorn and accentuate these fabrics with exquisite embroidery. Martina's master plan is to create a magnificent one-of-a-kind family heirloom that she hopes will represent her legacy and also serve as an inspiration to future generations of her family. At age 9, Manuela is not too keen on stitching. It seems she has inherited more of her dad's interests, as a math whiz!

Martina sees no end to her wonderful creative journey. Each new day brings new ideas and each day is too short to make use of all the different possibilities for self-expression. As she sees it, there is no choice except to try to live as long as possible so as to make as many dreams as possible come true. She thinks maybe 150 years might do it, and then again....

Martina Weber's designs are marketed under her company name of Chatelaine and are sold to retail shops through her distributors.

Her distributor in the USA is Jean Dittrich, Potpourri etc., 209 Richmond Street, El Segundo, Ca. 90245 Phone: (310) 322- 8512 Fax: (310) 322 -0187 e-mail: rosecttg@aol.com

For countries where Martina has no distributor, she will sell her designs directly. Contact her by e mail:
info@chatelaine.net or through her website: http://www.chatelaine.net

Note: All designs shown remain the exclusive property of the designer and are protected as such under International copyright law.


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