9 artisans – 4 years hard work. All done with the motive of giving a fitting tribute to Hanoi on the occasion of its millenial anniversary. The gift is in the form of a giant hand embroidered artistic piece titled : “Aspiration of 1000 year Thang Long”.
Background of Thang Long
The central old citadel of Hanoi was the earlier home of Vietnamese monarchs dating back when the city was known as Thang Long. The citadel was constructed by the Ly dynasty in 1010 and remained the seat of the Vietnamese court until 1810, when Hu became the capital city. The royal palaces and other various structures were largely destroyed by the colonial French in the late 19th century. Some structures remain such as Doan Mon gate and the Flag Tower of Hanoi, as well as the steps of Kinh Thiên Palace and the Hu Lâu (Princess’ Palace). The Vietnamese military command under General Giap, who was the hero in the wars against the colonial French and the Americans, had its headquarters in the citadel in the building known as D67. An underground tunnel enabled the military to flee to other parts in case of a raid. Construction work for the National Assembly building in 2003 uncovered large remains of the citadel dating back to Thang Long. Some of the remains are now exhibited in the Vietnamese History Museum. Where the planned new National Assembly building should not be located is still open. Starting in 2000, some of the old French barracks and buildings have been destroyed to make place for a new museum within the citadel. The citadel is shortlisted to be included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006 as “The Cultural Heritage Complex of Thang Long – Hanoi”
This 4m long by 3m wide embroidery entitled, “Aspiration of 1000-year-old Thang Long”, was made by nine artisans and took over four years to complete. This piece will be displayed at the “Artistic atmosphere of the ancient citadel” festival in the Thang Long Royal Citadel. Hanoi authorities have approved the 20 billion dong “Artistic atmosphere of the ancient citadel” project, which will be held from April 1 to October 30 2010. This festival will comprise a flower festival and an embroidery exhibition in the Thang Long royal citadel.
Vo Van Quan, the founder of XQ Vietnam Embroidery Company, said on April 28 that the Co Loa-Hanoi Ancient Citadel Preservation Centre handed over 10,000sq.m in the Thang Long Royal Citadel to the “Artistic atmosphere of the ancient citadel” project. Aside form the above-mentioned embroidery, 12 new and unique embroideries will be exhibited at the festival, surrounded by all special flower species. A small stage will be built for artists to play traditional musical instruments. This event, according to organizers, will be a festival of flowers, music, embroidery and tea so it will be very romantic. The festival will be open for free.
I came across these embroidery games… yes you heard it right .. Games!
All of us would have heard of Monopoly.. How about Quiltopoly? Quiltopoly is a board game that keeps you running around the “blocks” for hours of fun. The strategy is that players pick their favorite quilting game pieces and start moving around the “blocks” collecting Quilting Techniques and Block Designs to create their very own quilting empire! There are roadblocks like “Points do not match” or “You sewed the seams uneven” game card which make the game exciting. Each time they pass the start point, it is “Start Quilting” and they can collect $200. Finally there is a “National Quilt Show” and their quilt could win the grand prize.
Stitchopoly is another similar game which only changes the base theme from quilting to needlework and needle techniques. The goal is to “Start Stitching” and move ahead without bumping into “Pull your thread” or “Needle stuck”. Stitchopoly has an educational component too. Each player card features a stitch diagram.
Hi! I came across the legendary “Dreamcatcher” embroideries at Dreamcatchers. Each of the embroidery patterns are stunning, to say the least. All of them follow the circle fashion designs with multiple concentric or semi circles inscribed within to give it a magical look. The embroidery comes with feathers looping down below giving it a literal “feather in the cap” finish. All the embroidery designs are symmetric. While these embroideries are multi purpose, they would ideally go well with girls dresses, curtain or table cloth to name a few.
Check out the design besides this post and you will notice the intricacy of the pattern. The size of this piece is 5 inches by 7 inches and are available in popular machine embroidery formats like ART, HUS, JEF, PES and SEW. A total of 7626 stitches and 7 colors complete this masterpiece. They are produced using Variegated threads (Chess, pet and brown). Variegated refers to multiple hues of colour yarn twisted to form a single thread.
If you have a flavour for ethnic embroidery, there is one historic set of patterns that you cannot overlook in your embroidery quest. Ukrainian embroidery dates back to 500 BC where excavated sites have revealed embroidered clothing. Until the 19th century, it was a common household craft and practised by one and all. The gallery of Ukrainian embroidery was remembered as a national pastime and part of Ukrainian cultural and national identity. Today it marks its distinct appearance in folk dresses and also plays an important role in weddings and other celebrations. Ukrainian embroidery is treated as a form of art and this expresses itself in the design and pattern of the motif. Apart from clothing, Ukrainian embroidery is also used for decoration of churches, towels and other ceremonic fabrics.
The shirt is denoted as vyshvyanka. This was decorated with embroidery on the sleeves, neck, bosom and cuffs. Other elements of clothing which the Ukrainian embroidery touched were scarves, skirts, aprons, men’s caps, sleeveless jackets, kozhukh (sheepskin coat), sashes, bed linens to name a few.
I noticed that red and black are common colors used in Ukrainian embroidery. Then depending on the region, the color range varies from pale blue, white, green and gray tones.
The ornamental needle-weaving stitch is called “nyzynka” and is executed predominantly on the reverse of the fabric which gives a sort of “tweed” effect.
Most probably you may have not… Assisi Embroidery is a type of counted-thread embroidery with foundations that range back to the 13th century in a small town called Assisi in Italy. The background is filled with embroidery stitches and the main motifs are left void and unstitched. Hence this embroidery has been coined as the voiding method. The background is generally cross stitch with rich colors like red, gold, bright blue and parrot green. There are 2 techiques to do Assisi embroidery, the old fashioned way being to draw figures on the fabric free hand and the modern way to construct the pattern on paper and then transfer to the cloth.
The Assisi embroidery are as beautiful as modern day carpets. Check out the Snowflake design to the left. The intricate patterns of this hand embroidery would leave the viewer stunned. As one can see, it is the voids that make the design while the stitches outline it.
Italy has had a long historical tradition of bright and colourful embroidery. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries monastic embroideries developed a simpler style where designs and motifs were voided on fine linen cloth with the outlines and background embroidered in coloured silk. Motifs were strongly influenced by traditional designs of bird or animal pairs surrounded by elaborate scrollwork. These early articles were most often used for religious purposes e.g. altar cloths and chasubles.
One can see a basic Assisi embroidery below which gives a clear picture of the cross stitch techniques used.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, however, this form of embroidery fell into decline and many of the designs and motifs were lost. It was only at the turn of the 20th century that the practice was revived in the Italian town of Assisi from which this form of embroidery gets its name. In 1902 the ‘Laboratorio Ricreativo Festivo Femminile San Francesco di Assisi’ was established. The aim of this handicrafts workshop was to revive traditional local handicrafts and provide employment to poor women to supplement their income. This cottage industry flourished and these more modern designs, using the counted thread technique, quickly spread throughout Italy, Europe and further abroad.
In the last 20 years, a modern version of Assisi embroidery has evolved. Many different colours and patterns are used for the background, and the motifs are extremely varied. However, it is heartening to note that the traditional version is still practised in the town of Assisi where one can see the local women sitting in front of their houses and embroidering Assisi work items for the local co-operative embroidery shop.
So lets begin with : What is a motif? A motif is basically a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration. It could also mean a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music. An embroidery motif is a pattern in cloth which consists of decorative shapes in various splashes of colors which give it a vibrant look.
The history of motifs traces way back to the ninth century when such a colorful fashion was in vogue in various parts of Europe. This evinced interest and the art spread across in various forms across the world. Since this is an embroidery art, the essence of each region was visible in the patterns and one could distinguish the culture or the state only by seeing the embroidery motif.
I came across an interesting book – Palestinian Embroidery Motifs: A Treasury of Stitches 1850 – 1950. This is a vast embroidery treasure trove and recommended reading for every hand embroidery enthusiast! Margarita Skinner focuses on the motifs used in embroidery which include the Tall Palm motif (also known as Ears of Wheat) of the Ramallah area, Scissors and Roses from Gaza, the Key of the Heart from Bethlehem and the Cypress Tree motifs found all over Palestine. She says : “The embroidered dresses of the Palestinian women are very much like Persian carpets. They are not only unusually beautiful. They also tell stories.” In the Negev, unmarried Bedouin girls and widows wear dresses with blue embroidery. Once a widow remarries, red or pink embroidery is added. The book documents more than 250 motifs, giving their names in English and Arabic and identifying the areas of Palestine from which they come. Falak Shawwa‘s stunning photographs capture the artistry and vibrant colours of the motifs, and the splendour of festive dresses. Each area of Palestine had characteristic embroidery. Ramallah, together with Bethlehem and Beit Dajan, was well known for its lavish embroidery. The embroidery on a festive dress could have 200,000 cross-stitches. Bethlehem‘s skill in the art of couching made it the “Paris of Palestinian village fashion”.
If you try to trace back to the Palestinian history, it may not be exactly known when women in Palestine started to put thousands of stitches on dresses, coats, jackets, veils and cushions. Research on Palestine embroidery has found no examples earlier than the 19th century. In Palestinian villages, the tending of chickens and selling of eggs was the domain of women, who used this source of income to buy thread and fabric. Girls in Palestine grew up watching their mothers embroidering, and learnt the skill from the age of about ten. The primary stitches used in Palestinian embroidery are cross-stitch and couching. In couching a thick thread is positioned on top of the fabric, and a thinner thread is stitched over it to keep it in place. This gives a curving design, of which there are many examples in Palestinian Embroidery Motifs.
Wish you an enriched learning on our ancient arts!
An embroidered pattern done on paper is known as paper embroidery. Simple, isn’t it? It can get a bit complicated though!
So, when did paper embroidery begin in the world? Let us trace the evolution and history of this unique and amazing art.
The history of embroidery on paper can be traced back to the late 1700’s when pin pricking was used to adorn paper cards and enhance painted pictures. The pricking was done from either side which gave a different texture. Different size needles and tools were used to create various size holes. It is recorded that in the early 1800′s, Marie Antoinette used pin pricking on stationery she sent while imprisoned. Pin pricking surely had some influence on the Victorian fancy-work designs that used a pre-punched paper. This can certainly be considered embroidery on paper because the ladies stitched the pre-printed designs using the holes in the paper. Many of these designs were used as Christmas ornaments or wall hangings. The larger designs were of the mottos of the day, often spiritual in nature. As with many needlework techniques, this one began to die out in the early 1900’s.
String art was invented by Pierre Bezier in the late 1700′s. This refers to an arrangement of string that forms abstract geometric patterns or patterns that resemble an object.
Another contributing factor was the invention of the Spirograph by British engineer Denys Fisher. This new toy debuted at the 1965 International Toy Fair. The Spirograph produces mathematical curves using disks made of plastic with holes strategically placed in the plastic circle.
And finally…Paper Embroidery
With an evolution of art springing from the above forms, in the 1980′s people started creating scrapbook pages and handmade cards. Creativity flourished and soon embroidery on paper began appearing. Dutch designer Erica Fortgens began writing books with patterns and instructions and officially the terminology – paper embroidery came into being.
Check out the sample of paper embroidery alongside this post. As you can notice, the holes are prepunched by the embroiderer and the needle then passes through the holes along with the thread. This process is critical else the paper would get damaged. A paper embroiderer needs to master this art of prepunching first before moving to the next step.
United Arab Emiratie Zareena showcased the true Arab, Pashno cultural embroidery patterns in the recent Dubai fest. The hallmark of her collection are the lush embroideries on single one-piece gowns. Blending old, vintage Afghani references, Zareena uses the thread zari and the gotha (the metallic fabric used richly in Indian wear) as well as luxurious crepes and chiffons to accentuate the sparkle in her embroidery. Every piece is distinct and different from the previous piece and in this lies her excellence. The bejewelled embroideries are made to perfection and have fans raving for more of her collection. Her firm belief is that simplicity is the essence of beauty and all her collections derive their elegance from their clean cuts coupled with a rich look.
‘I await inspiration. I do not plan it,’ she explains. ‘It could be a simple piece of jewellery that might take my fancy and become an inspiration for an entire collection.’
Married with two daughters, Zareena has successfully launched and maintained three businesses with the support of her husband, Colonel Mohammed Murad. She looks towards India for inspiration due to its age old tradition and culture. She has started an enterprise in Delhi with a team of designers and embroidery craftsmen. Her endeavors include a well-known beauty salon and a wedding events management company. She juggles between family life and her career and maintains a healthy balance between the two. ‘Without harmony at home, a woman cannot achieve heights. My family is my strength,’ she points out.
EDG wishes her all the best in her bejewelled embroidered life!
What exactly is bead embroidery? This is an ancient hand embroidery technique which originated in Germany in the 12th century. The pattern was first drawn onto the parchment and then attached to the fabric. The beads were strung onto one single thread, laid on the design in the desired manner and then couched into place with a thread and second needle. So there was a juxtaposition between the beads and the embroidery and this unique technque came to be known as bead embroidery.
In today’s scenario, one generally takes 5 – 6 beeds on the needle at a time. The needle goes into the fabric and these beads are then couched with a second needle and thread into place. The backstitch technique is used in order to run through several of the couched beads. A final thread is run through to ensure stability of the embroidery design.
Check out the dragonfly which caught my eye in one of the beaded embroidery resources – Giuliana’s Beaded Embroidery – This embroidery is done with linen lined with muslin. The dragonfly body is done in clear silver-lined bugle beads, and the wings are solid silver metal Delica beads. The opaque purple beads are size 11/0 Japanese glass beads. Aren’t they a beauty!