Embroidery As Art: Last week, I attended Shobha Broota’s new show, where she used techniques like crochet and knitting to create unique art. This is, fortunately, a growing trend, but embroidery as art is still a problem area, being associated as it is with women’s work, one that is coming into its own, though.  To take an educated look at the history, we will have to go back to the genesis of needlework.  (more…)

Cross-Stitch, A Gorgeous Embroidery developed from 'X' Stitches
Cross Stitch By Shobha at Marasim
Cross-Stitch – The inspiration for this article came from our cross-stitch expert Shobha, who joined as our first full-time cross-stitch artisan in June 2021. Shobha has been practicing this craft for the past 17 years. When she was in her twenties, she joined the training group led by father, Colombus, and has never looked back. The crafts were introduced to her village by father Colombus almost 70 years before. Father Columbus visited India through a missionary and trained women in more than 25 villages. (more…)

Smocking: Those of us who grew up in the 1960s and the decades before then have all worn gingham dresses, very often with smocking. I know that I associate smocking exclusively with dresses for little girls.  But that’s not how the craft started.  In a reversal of timelines from most forms of embroidery, which have been the province of the elite, smocking began as a means to render peasant clothing practical.  And this is what makes it unique among all the forms of embroidery. 

Embroidery Series by Marasim

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Chikankari Embroidery from India – As a child growing up in Lucknow in the 1960s, I recall being dragged along to the stores when my mother and aunts shopped.  Much to my boredom.  Except when we went to the chikankari shops.  Even as a child, I found the gossamer tenderness and transparency of the craft fascinating, and I’m not alone in this.  In 1903, George Watt described it as “the most artistic and delicate form of the indigenous needlework of India.”  Laila Tyabji compares it to a dragonfly wing.  

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If there is any embroidery that is solely in the realm of women, it is phulkari, and that too the women of Punjab.  Translating to ‘flower work,’ it is vital in the history and culture of its state of origin, steeped in its history, its customs, and rites of passage ceremonies. More than any other embroidery of India, it is significant- less for commercial reasons and more for the insight it offers into women’s lives historically. 

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Zardozi Embroidery: There is something about embroidery that has held the world in thrall in all of recorded history.  Is it the human urge to beautify and improve? Is it a stress buster? Whatever the reasons, India probably stands at the forefront of the world in terms of both the variety and the complexity of its embroidery traditions. Many of the embroideries found on garments on the international catwalks are developed in India, though this may not be known or acknowledged. 

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Jacobean Embroidery a Style Based on the Folklore of England

A floor covered in rush in a medieval home

Jacobean Embroidery : We live in our current times in houses or apartments, which are fully furnished, heated in winter, and adorned extensively with textiles for aesthetic reasons and utility.  But there was a time in England and the rest of the world that houses were draughty, furniture scarce, and cloth was restricted to wool, linen, and silk. There were rushes on the floor, which dogs and often people would relieve themselves in, making interiors malodorous. People often shifted from one house to another, an itinerant lifestyle because homes became quickly unhygienic.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, an awareness began to grow about beauty and comfort, both in interiors and dress. This age coincided with a time in England when huge homes were being built, abbeys were turned into residences, and lasting peace meant that they could give attention to aesthetic (more…)

How

Marking an Embroidery Pattern

 

Marking an Embroidery Pattern. Oftentimes, in the craft sector, the practitioners feel a sense of responsibility to pursue traditional processes to a Tee.

When technology integrates into traditional handcrafts. It saves time and increases efficiency. And it is the best chance to ensure the survival of an ancient practice in a modern world.  Therefore, technology interventions combined with handcrafts can save time and increase efficiency. (more…)

Traditional Chikankari Embroidery at a NYC based company
Traditional Chikankari Embroidery at a NYC based companyImage Source: Poala Manfredi’s book on Chikankari

CHIKANKARI EMBROIDERY HISTORY 

Traditional Chikankari Embroidery at a NYC based company. The historical city of Lucknow with its detailed architecture is synonymous with Chikankari embroidery. In 1775, Lucknow had become the capital of the city of Oudh. It at once began to attract craftsmen, artists and musicians, who were patronized by the Mughal court.Mughal Court

The stitches of  white on white patterns such as paisleys and florals adorn the surface of the fabric . The use of untwisted cotton or silk threads was common. Some stitches start from the front of the fabric, others from the back. There are six basic stitches, which form a large repertoire of stitches as a combination of each other for embossing flowers and leaves.
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