floral bedfordshire Yvonne Scheele duchesse

My biography
I started making lace in 1977 while living in England because I fell in love with the antique English bobbins. I began learning the usual laces – Torchon, Bedfordshire and Bucks Point. After returning to the Netherlands,
I continued lacemaking and learned other types of lace.

The lace group I was involved with invited sister Judith, an expert lacemaker, to teach Duchesse lace. Sister Judith told the group that she was experimenting with Duchesse and invited them to experiment with her. Techniques of making scrolls and other small motifs changed; a new edge treatment called 'rolling' was incorporated. In earlier Duchesse lace inside edges of some motifs were raised to allow for the continuous use of threads, but 'rolling' outlined the edge of the entire motif giving it a different finish and created a completely different visual effect. At first not every edge was rolled – only here and there – but gradually every edge was rolled. The result was a lace that had a definite three dimensional quality. In 1985 this lace was given the name Withof – the name of sister Judith's convent.

My publishing career began in 1988 when I collaborated with two other authors to produce a book in Dutch about lace. I collaborated with the same authors in 1991 to publish a lace book in English. In 1997 I authored 50 Dutch Bobbin Lace Patterns: Withof and Duchesse which included translations in English, Dutch, German, and French. This book encourages the use of lace in both clothing and home décor. In 1998 I published a pattern book.

Floral Bedfordshire
In 1990 I became involved with Floral Bedfordshire lace with Barbara Underwood. The approach to making both Withof and Bedfordshire lace is similar. The lacemaker is continually confronted with decisions: what technique is best to use; how should this section of the lace be interpreted. I have designed and worked both Withof and Bedfordshire laces.

New developments
My husband and I were transferred to Singapore in 1997. While there I became interested in Asian designs and gradually began incorporating these motifs into my lace designs. These same images, inspired by the exotic flowers and animals England was importing from her colonies in India, Asia and Africa, were used in the English designs of the late 19th century. I am successfully combining the two laces.
As I became more and more aware of the Chinese motifs I started to think of how I could interpret them in lace. I experimented with techniques to achieve the picture I envisioned. I wanted my lace to be 'alive'. As a result I have now published a coffee table book with Asian motifs worked in lace accompanied by a short text explaining their symbolism.

I started teaching lacemaking in 1981 in the Netherlands. In 1986 I offered a Withof course in England, and since have taught in several other European countries, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, and United States.

Today I teach, both internationally and in my studio in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. I am fluent in Dutch, English and German. I continue to design and make Withof and Floral Bedfordshire laces – exploring and expanding the boundaries of lace. My latest book Withof …. Before and after contains all the techniques used in the lace I have made in past years. Not only traditional techniques, as used in Withof Duchesse, but also techniques I have developed myself to recreate on my pillow the picture that I have in mind.