Leon Conrad, John Karavas and Anthony Minieri
Part I of our III part series. Click here for Part II on John Karavas and Part III on Anthony Minieri
Professional UK Designer and Teacher
Leon Conrad was born into a London-based family of active artist-crafters. Both his parents were painters and his mother was also a soft toy designer and founding member of the British Toymakers' Guild. Leon's own enthusiasm for craft work started at the age of 6, when he attempted to construct a paper model of a station - though he didn't even have a train set!
Ornament in Blackwork and Hardanger
Around this time, Leon moved to Egypt where he continued to
live for 12 years. His interest in craft activities grew, and
he was frequently asked to design and produce posters, leaflets,
etc. for local societies and events. However, with the demands
of his studies, craft activities took a back seat. Leon returned
to London at age 18 to study piano at Trinity College London.
Through countless cushions, samplers, and other projects, Leon expanded his grasp of different techniques and then began designing on his own. As a member of the Embroiderers' Guild and the New Embroidery Group, he has further added to his knowledge and skill. He also studied technique at the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court.
from the Elizabethan Elegance Series of 12 Beaded Blackwork Designs.
In 1997 Leon founded The New Elizabethans Embroidery Group. He launched his own design company, Leon Conrad Designs, in 1998. Over the years, Leon has exhibited at shows sponsored by the Embroiderers' Guild, contributed numerous articles to stitching magazines world-wide, been interviewed on BBC Radio 4 and has had his designs featured in UK stitching magazines, with more designs due to come out in the US soon.
2-in-1 Needlecase / Ornament design in Blackwork and Assisi Work
Leon draws inspiration for design work from a myriad of sources. The most colorful and exotic being the designs, materials and colors he saw around him while growing up in Egypt - a country rich in Pharaonic, Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic architecture and heritage. Inspiration is plentiful in the variety of natural scenery around the country such as the coastal towns of Alexandria and Rosetta, the lush vegetation of the Nile valley, the harsh, but beautiful, starkness of the desert and the rich layers of colors and textures of Cairo bazaars.
Gloriana's Garden is a recent teaching piece created by Leon. Leon's main specialty is Blackwork Embroidery, but he has recently conceived the new techniques used in executing Gloriana's Garden to spotlight some of the unexplored potential of space dyed threads. Leon explains his approach, "I started out by setting myself the challenge of deliberately avoiding the 'streaky bacon' look which I see so often when space dyed threads are used in conventional ways, as you would a monochrome thread. Many of these fibers... are almost works of art in themselves and deserve better treatment...Gloriana's garden is embellished with Goldwork - mainly cutwork and couching and offers a colourful introduction to the enormous potential of using space dyed threads in ways that will give an all-over wash of intermixed colour, which can be used to great effect in many kinds of design styles and techniques."
Leon will be teaching Gloriana's Garden at A Sampler Gathering organised by the Historic Needlework Guild in Plymouth, MA (USA) between April 3 and 10, 2001. More info on this event can be found on the following webpage:
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