This weekend I went with a friend to the Art Fair on the Square. There was a ton of neat stuff, but while I was there I ran into something that I’ve never seen before. There were two booths that had embroidery in the title, so naturally, being a stitcher, I wandered over and my jaw dropped to the floor.
I’ve seen embroidery before, and perhaps I just haven’t seen enough of it, because I’ve always thought… meh. The first booth was pretty neat, all the pieces were very intricate and beautiful, but the second one… wow. I stood there looking at the art for several minutes, half convinced that they were simply paintings and were only embellished with thread. Upon closer inspection, though, every bit of each was indeed embroidered.
I asked the proprietor of the second booth who stitched them, and he said that his wife’s family has done this kind of embroidery for generations and he goes to shows to sell the pieces. I’ve never seen needlework so vibrant and almost three dimensional before. If you’ve ever seen a painting in a museum and been blown away be the texture and depth of the brushstrokes, that’s what this was like in thread form.
After coming home, I did some poking around and discovered information about Chinese silk embroidery. I don’t know if that’s what was at the art fair, but here’s a video.
The best versions of this type of embroidery art are stitched on silk with silk thread and have a front side and a back side that are identical with the beginnings and the endings of the thread hidden within the stitches. Many pieces are framed between two pieces of glass so that both the front and back of the piece are on display.
Silk thread is used, but the artists use varying thicknesses of strands by separating the strands from a single piece of silk thread. One thread can be separated into as many as 24 different strands!