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

We present the very talented, very distinctive designer
Catherine Reurs
By Rita Vainius

Vibrant and opulent in color. Simple designs that appear rich and intricate. Naive in character, quirky and fun. All of these apply to Catherine Reurs' needlepoint interpretations of animals, florals, folk art, cherubs, birds and numerous other motifs. (Click on the stocking below, right, for Catherine's FREE DESIGN & CHART.) Over the years she has learned which subjects really "turn her on" and she strives to incorporate these into her designs insisting that "...if you love something, it comes through loud and clear in your artwork, whatever medium you work in...and people respond to that."

It took a twelve year stint in the stress-filled business world of international finance for Catherine to discover her real aspirations were artistic in nature. But her banking experience stood her in good stead when she decided to go into business for herself as a needlepoint designer. It also enabled her to travel extensively throughout Europe, exposing her to innumerable artistic and cultural treasures which have profoundly influenced her work ever since.

A formative influence was Catherine's exposure from infancy to beautiful and artistic surroundings. She even retains memories of crawling around on the detailed oriental carpets decorating her parents' home and to this day, these occidental designs constitute her favorite textiles. "Our personal background affects everything that we do...I think I was predisposed to like those [Oriental] designs - they seeped into my brain!" she asserts. Patterns from two Turkish rugs provided the impetus for Catherine's first original design, "Boteh", executed in a paisley style. Not one to be daunted by detail and complexity of execution, this piece took three years to complete!

Upon learning to sew at age eight, Catherine diligently produced a wardrobe and accessories for her bears, dolls and trolls. Even back then she was embellishing these felt outfits with beads, sequins and faux pearls. The teddies were her favorites and she has always felt a special affinity for animals and they still constitute her favorite design motifs. Not surprisingly, the home Catherine shares with her husband includes two Burmese cats and a huge white shepherd named Bella.

When needlepoint was discovered by Catherine as a teenager, she found the available patterns so lackluster that she was motivated to design her own right from the start. Using an art history book as a guide, her first attempt was a rendition of a work by Mondrian entitled "Broadway Boogie Woogie", an ambitious and rather avant-garde undertaking for a teen trying out a new technique; but then, Catherine has always been eager to venture into unfamiliar territory.

Catherine attended Tufts University, majoring in Art History and History with an emphasis in Medieval Art. Graduating during an economic recession, however, did not bode well for pursuing a career in these fields. Instead, Catherine opted for a management training program. Upon completion, she moved swiftly up the corporate ladder, landing her "dream assignment" as a banking officer with all Europe as her territory. Catherine eagerly ingested the incredibly rich artistic heritage of the many cultures, making it a point to visit museums, galleries and bookstores wherever she went. Deciding that she wanted to live there, she applied herself to learning Italian and procured a position as a second vice president with Chase Manhattan Bank in Milan, Italy.

After a few years, Catherine was transferred to Chase's London Headquarters, where she lived near the Victoria and Albert Museum and became enamored of English textiles and needlework. Her banking career came to an abrupt end at Christmas in 1986, when her entire department of 250 people was presented with pink slips. Catherine had heard rumors and anticipated this eventuality, "I thought, `Life is too short; I don't want to deal with this anymore,' then I realized I wanted to do something artistic." Needlepoint had remained a cherished hobby and during her banking years Catherine had found it to be the perfect medium to occupy herself with on the many tedious hours spent ferrying between destinations and staying in hotels. Throughout, she had continued to design all her own work. Colleagues began to notice these and Catherine started receiving requests for custom work.

Unwilling to leave England, Catherine did some freelance consulting work while soliciting other needlework commissions. She became known for rendering architectural portraits in needlepoint. This fledgling career got a boost when "European Travel and Life" showcased some of her London house portraits. While in England she also met her soon-to-be husband, Jiri Stanislav, a Czech actor, writer and teacher who fled his native homeland when the Russians invaded in 1968. They were married in 1987. Catherine's life certainly bears out the maxim: "When one door closes, another one opens."

Catherine's ideas for designs emanate spontaneously because of the many forms of media she constantly exposes herself to: books and magazines about art, architecture, antiques, interior design, needlework and crafts, frequent forays to museums and galleries, travel in the U.S. and abroad and watching the Learning Channel, PBS, Discovery, A&E and Bravo on TV. She feels it is very important to keep "feeding" her imagination by exposure to as many stimuli as possible.

Catherine describes her style as "European with an American twist or American with a European twist." During the past few years she has been using many more types of specialty fibers, such as metallics, rayon, perle cotton, alpaca and angora. Each fiber adds a different texture and reflects the light differently, greatly expanding Catherine's "palette" and creative options. She reminisces, with evident surprise, that "... just five years ago I only used persian wool!" She always carries a spiral binder so that, when inspiration strikes, she can make what she calls "...truly horrible little thumbnail sketches." Nonetheless, they do the trick and are later refined to get the right shape and feel. Once she is satisfied that she has captured the essence of a particular design element, she will fill in the color and shading by eye.

The Caron Collection threads caught Catherine's attention in a store. She had never before seen "space-dyed" threads made specifically for needlework. At a TNNA show, she chanced to meet Lois who supplied her with some fabulous samples. Catherine was right in the middle of writing her second book, Splendid Needlepoint, and she was intent on using the Caron fibers for some of the projects to be illustrated. She particularly gravitates toward Watercolours and the metallic fiber ranges - Rachelette, Antica, Snow and Rachel for her work. Catherine's first published book of needlepoint designs is entitled In Splendid Detail which is also the name she gave her business.

Two of Catherine's "Splendid" Needlepoint Books
(see below for ordering information)

Altogether, Catherine Reurs is that rare example of what is possible when both the right brain and left brain function at equal capacity and in sync with each other. Her roles as artist, designer, entrepreneur, art lover, author, merchandiser and promoter mesh seamlessly assuring her a distinctively unique place among the needlework elite.

For more information, contact Catherine Reurs at In Splendid Detail, Ltd.
50 Marion Road, Watertown, MA 02472-4737
Phone: (617) 926-3252
Fax: (617) 926-5883
E-Mail crnpoint@aol.com

Catherine's designs encompass a line of thirteen needlepoint kits, available from her or through her distributor: Westminster Fibers, Inc., Amherst, N.H. (800) 433-7899 or (603) 886-5041, twenty five cross stitch/needlepoint chartpack designs, available from her, two needlepoint books, In Splendid Detail: Needlepoint Art, (ST&C - 1991) and Splendid Needlepoint, (Lark Books - 1997). Both books are available from her and Splendid Needlepoint is also available in bookstores. She has completed many private commissions and still enjoys doing them when time permits. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines including Better Homes and Gardens, Cross Stitch & Needlework, Arts and Crafts Magazine, House Beautiful, Colonial Homes, Country Living, Traditional Home and The Stitchery Magazine, to mention just a few! She has taught at needlework seminars, shows and many private needlework shops across the USA.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No part of the designs/charts can be reproduced or distributed in any form (including electronic) or used as a teaching tool without the prior written permission of Catherine Reurs of In Splendid Detail, Ltd.

© Copyright 1998 Catherine Reurs, In Splendid Detail, Ltd.

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

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com a@connix.com