Thursday, December 30, 2010

At Home

Suzanne Rheinstein's book "At Home - A Style for Today with Things from the Past" is a lovely book full of absolutely beautiful photographs of her interiors. The book features a collection of her projects including two of her own residences. Click on Elle Decor for a link to an article on her New York Residence - which has better pictures than these.

I had the pleasure of hearing Suzanne at a lecture on the book recently and was delighted to hear about her past and the many things that have influenced her vision with regards to her interior design. Her talk was very personal - her early years spent in New Orleans, her travels - her interests in art and architecture - she speaks of these things with a clear voice that brings added depth to her work.

My involvement with Suzanne has been the kind of quintessential collaboration that is ideal. We talk about embellishments - she will give me background information - colors, fabrics, design concepts - and then let's me interpret all of that into something special. She doesn't try to control me but gives me the freedom to utilize my knowledge and is open to the results.

I embellished the curtains in the living room of her New York residence with a custom embroidered chenille design. Inspired by a drawing in the Jansen book - the design is a simple, classic - well scaled geometric design. The chenille was custom dyed and applied to the fabric using a hand-guided technique with the Cornely machine and was given an additional chain stitch outline "shadow" in a darker color to create more surface interest.

Hearing Suzanne's story was interesting for another fact - she used to be neighbors with another client of mine - Ann Holden of Holden & Dupuy. Suzanne's recalled fond memories of the home of Gerrie Bremermann, Ann's mother, another very successful interior designer and antiquarian.

Should you wish an autographed copy of Suzanne's book - call her beautiful Los Angeles shop "Hollyhock" - I know they will be delighted to send one.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Once again - Trapunto!

I love the dimensional effects I achieve with Trapunto. Recently a client brought me a photo of some antique pillows. The images on the pillow were built up for dimension using some kind of underlay - I've seen antique pieces that had a sewn underlay in stitches or felt but have also seen them utilize a cellulose underlay as well.

I chose a dark platinum rayon thread to approximate the tarnished metallic like embroidery on the original and proceeded with my sample by digitizing a series of satin stitch shapes then using a software tool called line carving, to create the linear separation in the satin stitch.

Some people may actually prefer a flat surface for their pillows - but wanting to capture the essence of the antique piece, I utilized a hand-guided chain stitch outline that provided an additional detail and at the same time, allowed me to attach the muslin backing I needed for Trapunto. Once the chain stitch was completed, I could fill the pocked made by the two fabrics with cotton thread and complete the final sample.

My client loved the results - there will be four pillows to design.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The age old decorating problem: I love this image - but I don't like any of the ground colors it comes on or it just doesn't seem special enough...

Answer: Applique'

My client, Randy Patton of Patton Design Studio in Rancho Mirage, CA found an embroidered image that he liked for a chair back - but the image was simply part of a repeat - rows of the image with a smaller image offset between the rows. The fabric is from the Larson showroom.

To arrive at a more customized look, the images were cut from the original ground fabric, secured onto a new Rogers & Goffigon silk background, and then transitioned using a contrasting yet pale color that married the two materials and provided a lovely emphasis to the medallion.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Villa Savoia Custom Embroidery In Architectural Digest

My July 2010 issue of Architectural Digest arrived with a residence designed by Ann Holden of Holden & Dupuy. A redesign by the original architect, Ken Tate, the home is classically elegant with French accents with a "contemporary, sleek look look throughout."

I recognize some of the beautiful Jean Michel Frank reproduction furniture - such as the two arm chairs like those famously once in the Rockefeller New York residence designed by Jean Michel Frank in 1937 near the fireplace; the sofas and the vellum cocktail table - most likely recreated by Mattaliano Furniture, a line I sold while I worked at Mimi London Inc. years ago.

The beautiful photograph by Jeff Herr shows everything with a yellowish cast which isn't the way the photos look on his website. Please follow the link and view his interiors portfolio for a better impression of the colors in the room. I documented the curtain panels in this photo taken prior to shipping.

The embroidery consists of hand-guided cording using a tonal palette of coordinated threads along with chain stitch as a textural shadow. The design is about 13" wide.

Ann Holden is a great talent. She has a style that blends sophistication and elegance while keeping the interior available for every day use. Thanks Ann, for your continued use of my embroidery - it is much appreciated!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rogers & Goffigon Custom Outlines

I have always enjoyed the fantastic effect a simple embroidered outline can bring to fabric. Whether it be on Fortuny or in this case, a beautiful Rogers & Goffigon textile, the difference can be dramatic.

The fabric is "Mirador" and the color is Mirage and it is 50% wool and 50% linen - it has to me a decidedly arts and crafts feel. I loved this fabric the first time I saw it at Cowtan & Tout here in Los Angeles and I'm glad I have finally had a chance to embellish it.

In the top photograph you see a close up of the embroidered detail - it consists of a multi-thread cord which is achieved by creating a bobbin of threads which are used in the Cornely machine, a turn-of-the-century hand-guided machine. The cord is accented using a hand-guided chain stitch. The second photo shows The final panel (one of two,) shown in the last photo, was embroidered for on of my favorite designers, Waldo Fernandez of Waldo's Designs. They are to be upholstered on two small bench seats. I like these panels so much that I purchased a couple of yards to make some pillows for my showroom.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Villa Savoia Sighting in C Magazine

What a nice surprise to see embroidery in the new issue (April 2010) of C Magazine. The Beverly Hills home of Danica and Charles Perez, by designer Chad Eisner of C.W. Eisner Inc. includes my embroidery on the skirts of two lounge chairs in the living room and two Trapunto Maze pillows on a custom sofa in the Master Bedroom.

Chad is a wonderful designer and client - he uses embroidery in such a unobtrusive way. If you have the magazine - also check out the work of Erin Martin - the embroidered bedspread in her Napa Valley project is a quiet knockout - if you know what I mean.

The article on Erin is written by Diane Dorrans Saeks who has the most wonderful blog, The Style Saloniste.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mary Tait:Textile Artist and Extraordinary Seamstress

Here it is again - the Sunday before West Week. I need to be dusting, vacuuming etc. but instead I feel the need to share. For many years now I have had the privilege of working with the New Orleans firm of Holden & Dupuy. Along with that distinction, I have the pleasure of working with the wonderful studio of Mary Tait. Mary has been making beautiful window treatments, slipcovers, and other soft treatments that one finds in publications featuring the designers of that location and across the country.

As I have before mentioned, seldom do I see installation shots featuring my work, which is one of the reasons I feel such great satisfaction when a residence containing my work is published. Sharing emails with Mary this weekend, she included the above installation shot of some "Large Acanthus" embroidered satin curtains made for Ann Holden's project. Embroidered on a beautiful rich blue-violet-silver silk satin, the design is created using hand guided techniques including cording for the main outline of the design and contrasting chain stitch for emphasis and shading.

One of the many benefits of the design business is our friendships created by our different collaborations with both designers and artisans like Mary. Even though we may never meet in person, the friendships we create are quite special and long lasting. If you would like to contact Mary, here phone number is (479) 253-2372 - I know she is currently working on a website - I'll be sure to share it when it is ready.

Have a very good Sunday and enjoy West Week 2010.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Evolution of Embroidered Design

Recently I was approached by the San Francisco Interior Design firm The Wiseman Group, to create an embroidered design from their concept, for use as an embellishment on some round ottomans.

The design is relatively simple and was provided to me in a cad drawing complete with measurements. Using my Pulse Microsystems embroidery software, I was able to translate those measurements into a perfect replica in thread. The design runs continuously around the bottom of the ottomans - about 1" from the base.

The simplicity of this design has a clear strength about it which happens through the use of a foundation of threads underneath the satin stitches, which results in a very rich, dimensional embroidery. This embellishment will go a long way to add style to a simple shape.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

April 2010 Architectural Digest

The April 2010 issue of Architectural Digest is on the stands now and I'm delighted to see my embroidery. The interior is by Michae S.l Smith and the residence is located in Rancho Mirage.
I photographed the page and hope you can see the deck of the corner sofa - the embroidery consists of a DMC cotton satin stitch outline with a cotton cording fill in a pattern that much resembles some of the work of Maison Leleu, a favorite for inspiration.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

La Maison Leleu

I am a lover of books. I can't seem to own enough books. My library pages probably have at least 3 lifetimes of inspiration. The contents vary with information spanning centuries. Among my most recent passion is 20th century decorative arts; specifically, French decorative arts and fashion. It is a shame that I do not speak French as many of my books are in French and I have to restrict my appreciation to wonderful photos and my vague understanding of words I somewhat recognize.

The history of La Maison Leleu is the topic of Leleu by Francoise Siriex. It is a richly illustrated book showing the work of the family...I am especially attracted to the embroidered upholstery, wonderful rug designs and curtain embroidery of Paule Leleu.

The embroidered border above is my own interpretation of the style - it is based on a leading edge of a curtain in an interior from 1957. My border is sewn using my Tajima Neo2, digitized using my Pulse software. The repeat is 23" and uses three types of stitches, some layered for an iridescent effect. There is a joy about this work - much like the work of the 50's with it's international flavor and it's modern primitive point of view.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Trapunto With Satin Stich

I've been in the studio this afternoon, trying to photograph embroidery for a new mail piece. I do all my own photography and I particularly like to take close up shots of trapunto. The technique is so wonderful and the resulting relief creates such a rich textural element that I had to share these photos.

The top photo features a detail of a Turkish inspired design - a mixture of shapes further enhanced by satin stiches on the smooth matte wool sateen surface.

The next photo is of a pattern inspired by Hawaiian quilts. The pattern is repeated in a circular fashion from the center. This design has been used not only for pillows but also as a chair back.

You can see why I like trapunto so much - the effects are wonderful.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chenille Embroidery

The last several months have been very busy. I am on a schedule that has been wonderfully consistent lately. Today I am starting a new design - a chair back pattern that I'm really excited about. Organic in nature, the image will be used on insides or outsides of chair backs and I'm thinking about using it on two chairs from the Kerry Joyce collection to show the design off in my showroom.

Here are a few pictures of my showroom sample board. It shows patterns utilizing different styles of embroidery. You will see computerized satin stitch and pattern stitches, hand guided embroidery in the form of cording and chain stitch, applique' and two examples of trapunto; one on a beautiful Rogers and Goffigon silk/linen blend and one on mohair - both designs based on Moroccan detailing.
The close up is my sample from a job I just completed for designer Suzanne Rheinstein. The striped ground is oneof her fabrics at Lee Jofa and the embroidery is created by using a custom hand dyed chenille with the hand-guided cording machine then bordering it with a chain stitch outline in coral colored cotton. I love it - it is such a charmingly unexpected color combination,

Friday, January 1, 2010

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

From the papers of Mackintosh:

The props of art are - on the one hand - the slavish imitation of old work - no matter what date or from what country - and on the other hand the absurd and false idea - that there can be any living emotion expressed in work scientifically proportioned according to ancient principals - but clothed in the thin fantasy of the authors own fancy. The artists motto should be I care not the least for theories for this or that dogma - so far as the practice of art is concerned - but take my stand on what I myself consider my personal ideal - and I am sure that no one of any gifts of reasoning will question the value of higher ideas - a strong conviction.

This quote resonates with me as I move towards creating embroidery patterns for the new year. I have spent the past few months reorganizing my samples and my office. I've painted walls removing the dark brown color replacing them with a lively color from Farrow and Ball called Oval Room Blue. It is a breath of fresh air for me and has brightened the place beautifully. Last year I gave 15 pillows from my showroom stock to Divine Design to raise money for Project Angelfood. I felt the need to clean house and the opportunity of donating them to raise money suited me. I've been designing new pillows for the shelves and new curtain borders as well.

In the next few weeks I will be sending out a new direct mail piece that is the first of a series designed by Alexander Irvine who will also be reworking my website later this year. If you would like to be added to my mailing list, please email me at

I wish you a very happy, healthy and successful new year - I like the sound and look of 2010 and will embrace all the possibilities a new day has to offer.

Best regards,

Quote and photo from "Charles Rennie Mackintosh the Architectural Papers edited by Pamela Robertson