Embroidery and Colour

by Constance Howard
Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1976
Reviewed by Carol Peao Dam
Originally Published Winter 2001

Embroidery and Colour encourages the student of embroidery to experiment with color through observation and the practical application of those observations. The goal is not to explain color theory, but rather, to lead the student to colors and textures not previously explored.

Subjects covered are symbolism, environment, observation, color mixing, principles of color, and terminology. Exercises are scattered throughout the text relating to each subject. These are meant to enhance a student’s power of observation rather than to illustrate a specific color theory. Shape, texture, light, and the manipulation of fabrics are discussed throughout to expand the student’s view of color. The student is encouraged to leave behind personal preferences in color and to reach out to use new color combinations. An extensive bibliography leads to other sources relating to color, design, dyeing, embroidery and stitches.

Embroidery and Colour is not project-oriented. It is thought-process oriented. All levels of students can benefit from the different methods of observation. The embroiderer will not be overwhelmed by color theory and will be inspired by Ms. Howard’s ideas. and viewpoints.

Before her retirement in 1975, Ms. Howard was very involved in needleart education at the university level in England. She has authored several other books including, Embroidery from Traditional English Sources, Inspiration and Embroidery, and a series of historical overviews of embroidery. She has exhibited and taught internationally.

I added this book to my library as a new student of embroidery years ago because it was a completely different approach to study from others available to me at the time. I have found it inspiring when I have felt blocked in my work and needed a push toward a new idea. Anyone with an open mind or the desire to create can benefit from Ms. Howard’s observations of the world, embroidery, and color.