Conversations with Constance • Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn
Constance Howard, MBE (1910-2000) was the foremost pioneer of creative embroidery in Great Britain in the second half of the 20th century. This review in book form of her life and work includes personal memories she shared with the authors in the last years of her life.
Conversations with Constance Howard • Book 6 by Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn
The War Years
Constance arrived at Kingston School of Art in 1939 just as war broke out and she remembered seeing hundreds of children being evacuated as she arrived at the station, although the thought of working in London did not really concern her at the time.
Some art schools closed down during the war but not Kingston, which kept going with full time junior students (13-17years old). The only full time adult students were those unfit for war service and her evening classes were attended by servicemen and women.
There was also a great need for moral boosters and there was a program of entertainment in the parks. Constance made and dressed large 3ft tall string puppets for other people to work. They had moveable chests and mouths so they could become ‘opera singers’.
"A woman with green hair..."
Constance was by now working on her own embroidery and exhibiting her work with the Art and Craft Society, later to become the Society of Designer Craftsmen.
Richard Box, a well-known master embroiderer and artist mentions that his first experience of Constance was as “a woman with green hair” and it is this aspect which everyone remembers. Constance has been sporting her trademark green hair since 1957. She first tried auburn and although her husband liked it she thought it looked terrible. Her hairdresser bought a tin of green powder from the Fulham Road and applied it to her hair and she loved it and has kept the color ever since. The powder was pure malachite and she remembered a gypsy coming up to her and saying, “Excuse me madam, that color is ruining your blood.”
It was simply a part of her appearance and to those who knew her it seemed normal but to strangers it looked quite remarkable and caused extreme reactions.
Book 6 by Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn
- 28 pages full color illustrations
- First published 2000 • Digital Edition 2023
- ISBN No 0-9531750-5-7
Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn • About the Authors
Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn are internationally acclaimed textiles artists, authors and educators. For more than forty years the duo know as “Double Trouble Enterprises” has been challenging traditional notions of embroidery and stitch by working with soluble fabrics, mixed media, bonding, printing, embellishing and collage and extensive use of color development and journaling to great success. Founding members of the 62 Group of Textile Artists, featured instructors at Callaway Gardens School of Needle Arts, City & Guilds (London), Fellows of the Society of Designer Craftsmen (UK) and Presidents emeritus of the Embroiderers’ Guild (UK), Jan and Jean continue their work in inspiring stitch artists of all ages with print books, digital books, and a wide range of DVDs and streaming workshops.
Learn more about Jan and Jean in their interview with TextileArtist.org
Visit their Double Trouble Enterprises Website