English Quilting : old et new – Elizabeth Hake
Modern design in embroidery by Rebecca Crompton
It is customary to think embroidery as a craft belonging to the past : a craft which, if practised at all to-day, is practised according to the stiff and lifeless forms and designs of another age. In a word, a dead craft.
Mrs Crompton, in her highly stimulating book, brings the art of embroidery very much to life again. The numerous illustrations, many of them in colour, show that her own practice is well up to her precept; in her hands embroidery becomes an art of some significance. There is a temptation when looking at her designs to regard them as « painting », they have so much in common with several contemporary manifestations in that art : painters such Picasso and Ben Nicholson are called to mind by her designs. It is, however, misleading to think of Mrs Crompton’s work in terms of painting, for it is essentially of its medium, and has been designed as embroidery.
While the book is of fascinating interest to the layman, who is happy in the enjoyment of Mrs Crompton’s art, it is written primarily for the would-be embroideress. As a teacher, Mrs Crompton is at once stimulating and easily followed. « Design », she says, « should go hand in hand with actual work. It will then be found that one will gradually learn it while acquiring technical knowledge and skill. » Thus the pupil’s interest in creation is not deadned by having first to learn the whole gamut of stiches before producing original work herself; she is encouraged to produce while acquiring the technique which will eventually make her mistress of the medium. To quote Mrs Crompton again : « The student of embroidery is encouraged in this book to produce original work which belongs to the present, is modern in style, and brings new thought and life into the craft. »