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Embroidery as an Art

Granted, today embroidery is often a multi-million dollar business, and thus much of today’s embroidery is accomplished via the use of embroidery machines that put out an exact replica of the latest sports jacket it created, for example. Thus thousands and thousands of jackets are embroidered with the logo of the favored sports team, and sold en masse to department stores, for example.

It is important to realize that an artist who painstakingly uses the personal blessings of being an artist to create it may very well have initially created the embroidered item.  However, from there machinery took over which still makes the artist’s creation an art.

Hand embroidery, though, is also considered an art. With miniscule stitches all made in a specific orderly fashion to design a landscape, tell a story, or just put up a bouquet of flowers linked by a delightful string of ivy is an art.

Just making the stitches in a particular style such as cross stitches, or chain stitches, or the ubiquitous French knot and then making sure that the beginning and ending threads cannot be located on the reverse side of an embroidered item is an art. Once you begin learning about embroidery and learn the various stitches that can be accomplished, you will be very pleasantly surprised how many of them can be incorporated into a piece of embroidery.

Some of the best examples of embroidery as an art form of course can be found in studying Chinese embroidery. Some of it was so involved that one particular stitch was named the “forbidden stitch.”  Rumors maintain that it was called that due to the intricacy of the stitch so that only the very young with very young eyes could manage it, and that if one did enough of it, one could go blind. Thus, it was forbidden to beautiful young ladies to perform that stitch lest they be blinded.

Another rumor says that the forbidden embroidery stitch first saw its birth in the Forbidden City in China, which forbid entry to “common” folk.  Granted there were a tremendous amount of incredibly beautiful art works done with embroidery then to please the 24 Ming and Qing emperors, who lived in the Forbidden City at the time, and many of the embroidery arts have incorporated much of what was created there, but there truly is no specific Forbidden Stitch!

However, much can be learned from the Forbidden City with regard to embroidery as an art. For example in the “Palace of Earthly Tranquility” one finds a bridal bed that is covered with the most exquisite mattress cover that is totally embroidered using the finest threads possible.

Of course art needlework is not just the province of the Chinese. You will also find various needlework being extolled as art such as Zardozi, Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Suzhou, Rushnik, Opus Anglicanum, Persian, Nakshi Kantha, Mountmellick, Korean, Kasuti, Kantha, Kaitag, Jadobean, Indian, English, Chikan, Brazilian and Bunka shishu, all of which can be located by doing a computer search for them followed by the word embroidery, of course. Many of these are available for machine embroidery too!

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