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Saturday, March 9, 2013

ABC's of Creativity - E is Embroidery

Embroidery is the art or process of forming decorative designs with hand or machine needlework. There is no end to the types of stitches and their possibilities, singularly or in combination.

Mother and daughter in Hutsul dress. The 'sorochky' and 'keptarl' vest are embroidered. The little girl's 'sorochka'  has all the traditional elements, but in miniature. I just love the beaded 'sylianka' 'gerdan' around her neck.
Photographed at the Yaremche Festival, 2006
Many nations have there own unique styles which serves to identify where the people are from. Folk costumes can be very specific to a particular village, a region, and finally a nation. This was true in the late XVIII centuries to mid XX centuries in Ukraine and its neighbours.

Hutsul region. Love how the 'sylainka' beadwork goes with the embroidery. The 'serdak' jacket is also embroidered with wool. Yaremche Festival, 2006  
A few embroidered 'sorochky' on display at the 60th anniversary exhibit of Ukrainian National Museum, 2012

Nastasiya Marusyk wears a Bukovynian bead embroidered 'sorochka' from Zastawniw and a bugle beaded 'obhortka' wrap skirt. Olya's 'sorochka' is also beaded while her 'obhortka is woven. Nastia embroidered this  original 'rushnyk' ritual cloth.
Ukrainian National Museum, Chicago, 2012

Embroidery can be a work of art in itself. An expression of creativity.
Close-up detail of Nastia's own 'rushnyk' pictured above, 2012
Detail of another of Nastasiya's unique 'rushnyky', 2012
Traditional embroidery with a one of a kind pictorial story below. Seems like love was in the air when this 'sorochka' sleeve was embroidered.
Detail of a 'sorochka' from the Hnatiuk Collection.  Note the "carved out" design created with a clever use of the needle and thread. Ukrainian Museum and Archives, OH, 2011  
Borschiw 'sorochka', Ternopil Region, from the Hnatiuk Collection.
Ukrainian Museum and Archives, OH, 2011
Detail of a 'sorochka' from the Pokuttya Region.
Collection of O. Turyansky, Ivano Frankivsk, 2004
Bedcover  sewn together using Bukovynian 'sorochky' from the end of the XIX century by Osypa Hryhorovych of Majeriw, Ukraine. Ukrainian Museum and Library, CT, 2012
Bukovynian 'sorochka' sleeve panel from the bedcover. Note the metalic beads and sequins embellishment. Ukrainian Museum  and Library, CT, 2012
Bukovynina 'sorochka' sleeve panel from the bedcover. Strings of seed beads color the flowers. Ukrainian Museum  and Library, CT, 2012
Dnipro Region 'sorochka' and embroidered 'korsetka'.
Ukrainian National Museum, IL, 2012
Detail of 'sorochka' embroidered with cross-stitched flowers.
Ukrainian National Museum, IL, 2012
Detail of a Bukovynian 'sorochka', mid XIX century.
Ukrainian National Museum, IL, 2012
Opillya Region. Seed bead embroidered corsette with sequins on the tabs.
Hnatiuk Collection, Ukrainian Museum and Archives, OH, 2011
Opillya. Same region, but the individual's personality is revealed with her own seed bead embroidered flowers.
Ukrainian Museum and Archive, OH, 2011
 The loom size determined the width of each panel. The cut and construction is very basic. The embellishment is gorgeous. Note decorative stitching to camouflage the seams.

'Sorochka' framed as art.  This 'sorochka' is embellished with beads.
Ukrainian National Museum, IL, 2012
Sleeve detail of the 'sorochka'. Note the interesting pattern created by repeating three motifs . Also the raised white motifs are created by unique 'curly' stitches. Seed beads embellish the black outlined motifs.
Ukrainian National Museum, IL, 2012

Detail of my 'sorochka' from the Bukovynian Region. Note the bead embellishment in the flowers.
Maria Rypan Collection, 2006
It does not have to be an even count fabric, though this is handy for cross-stitch and geometric patterns.  Sheepskin has been used to embroider on in the Carpathian Mountains.

Deerskin was used by the First Nations. The cut and decorative design of dresses or jackets told from which nation the wearer was from. Pouches, bandolier bags and moccasins were also embroidered in regional styles.

Santee Dakota Northern Plains men's jacket, about 1870's.  It has glass and metallic beads embroidered on tanned hide. Museum of Civilization, QC, 2010
Moccasin display. Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, 2012
Pair of Southeastern beaded moccasins. Bata Shoe Museum, 2012
Woodland beaded moccasins display. Bata Shoe Museum, 2012
Pair of Woodland beaded moccasins. Bata Shoe Museum, 2012
In bead embroidery, a single or combination of "anything with a hole in it"can be picked up on a needle and stringing material. The beads are secured to fabric or a new embroidery medium courtesy of a few stitches. Some people embroider accessories, i.e. bags, clutch purses, headdress, even shoes.

Beaded butterfly decorating an embellished shoe by Roger Vivier, France.
Special exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum, 2012

Pearls seed bead embroidered shoes by Roger Vivier, France.
Special exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum, 2012
Embroidered fabric shoes by Roger Vivier, France.
Special exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum, 2012
Roaring Twenties hat embellished with fabric flowers and creatively embroidered leaves coordinate nicely with the shoes with cut-out pattern on the tips.
Bata Shoe Museum, 2012
Embroidery can be used to embellish functional objects around the home. There is no end to the possibilities here. It could be a table runner, tablecloth, decorative pillow, curtains or wall hangings.

In retrospect, you've just seen fine examples of decorative embroidery created in two very different corners of the world. There's plenty here to inspire your creativity.

And I haven't even touched on the new forms of bead embroidery around cabochons! Freeform embroidery is fun. There are a lot of gorgeous neckpieces and bracelets being created today.

We'll just have to continue this topic another time... Meanwhile, do give embroidering a try. It can be very  Zen-like calming change of pace!


  1. Thank you so much for publishing these beautiful images! I really enjoyed this posting.

  2. My pleasure! I love sharing beautifully handcrafted art. To think most of these were garments to be worn for holidays and special occasions. I'm thinking I was born in the wrong century....