Sunday, January 25, 2009

Working in Circles - Part 3, Embroidery

Embroidery--An Enduring Tradition

Embroidery is a slow craft--a way to find a reflective moment in a hurried culture. It is a time-honored tradition and examples of it can be found from many countries, each having its own distinctive style and content.

In the Middle Ages, embroidered clothing was a sign of great wealth primarily seen on court finery and ecclesiastical garments, and in Renaissance times there were professional embroidery guilds that elevated the art form to new heights. An interesting history can be found at this link, a discussion of the history of embroidery in America can be found here, and some information on the exquisitely delicate Chinese silk embroidery can be found here.

In Hungary, embroidery is an enduring folk craft. During a trip to Budapest, we captured this photo of a group of circular embroidered doilies at at a vendor's booth in the Központi Várárcsarnok. This central market hall is a spectacular three-level hall featuring mostly produce, meat and cheese vendors, but also some folk-art/artisan booths and prepared-food vendors on the mezzanine. Here you can find some authentic costumes and linens with the characteristically dense embroidery of florals in bright colors.

You can read more about Hungarian embroidery and folkarts here.

Embroidery--Another Way to Dress Up a Cirlce

Imagine putting your feet upon one of the two decorative footstools in the following photos of embroidery on velvet from the Wikipedia Commons. The first image shows "an embroidered stool with a slip of borage worked in canvaswork and applied to a velvet ground, early 17th century (Jacobean or possibly early Caroline.)"

The second image is a similar stool worked with poppies.

For more information on the source of the two footstool photos follow the image links.

While you've got your feet up you could read a good book and have some tea nearby on this lovely Rose embroidered doily that is on auction at Ebay through today. Like it? Be quick and go bid on it here.

Embroidery--Still in the Hoop

Here is my confession: I have dozens of projects-in-progress, begun as recently as last night or as long ago as thirty years, that I have started and that still reside in my studio.

An ADD type, I am an avid starter of projects. Ideas for items pop into my head, and my hands think they need to start to work on the thing at once. These projects do get occasionally get finished.

It's sometimes overwhelming to have as many works in progress as I have, but sometimes it's a blessing. When you don't feel like starting a whole new thing, you can nudge a project along that will bless you with a reminder of your past. For example, you can whip out a holiday ornament that you started back in 1982.

Or if you want to get even more nostalgic, you can work on that butterfly that is to become the pocket on a denim bag someday and was started in 1974.

There is a nice feeling to picking up the threads from your past and working with them once again. Embroidery is a slow craft and one to be savored.

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