World Embroidery Series: a six week exploration

A Virtual Class Series

Embroidery is a technique of decoration: the use of needle and thread to elaborate fabric, materials, or objects. Practiced across time and place, embroidery displays and celebrates culture and identity. Ancient embroideries – sewed with spun gold thread, tracing a pharaoh’s hem, twined into fruiting trees or rigorous geometries – have been discovered on every continent, the archaeology of a universal impulse. Our World Embroidery Series is a celebration of this global craft. Across six classes, sewists will encounter an astonishing array of culturally specific techniques, and will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished practicing teachers who are equally purposed in preserving heritage techniques.

Stitchers of every level are welcome to participate in this series, learning the motifs and mechanics of six distinct embroidery traditions from across the globe, in a series designed to convey the meaning and histories of specific stitching practice. This class will allow students to increase their skills, to participate in the preservation of culture, and to explore some of the diversity of ethnographic contributions to this ancient, tactile artform.

The Series

Blackwork Embroidery
with Denise Maroney

This class will introduce the technique of Blackwork Embroidery from historical practice to contemporary artistic expression. Looking at artworks and physical samples, we will begin by examining early blackwork practices from North Africa and their subsequent historical journey into Spain and across Europe. We will unpack the geometric artistry of the technique and the variations of mark making through thread quantity, material, and stitch. During the workshop, students will have the opportunity to create an original sample.

March 9th, 2023

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Lavradeira Portuguese Embroidery
with Sarah Pedlow

Join us for the embroidery and culture of the lavradeira, 19th century farm girl, of Viana do Castelo, Portugal. A vibrant living tradition, the embroidered clothing and textiles are still made today for festivals and special occasions. After an introduction to the Minho region of northern Portugal and an overview of its textile history, we’ll stitch a floral pattern inspired by a handkerchief with several stitches including the crivo, a drawn thread work technique. The workshop is fun and informative for both beginning and experienced embroiderers.

March 16th, 2023

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Ainu Embroidery with Kaparamip Technique
with Selina Ben

In this class, Selina will walk you through a brief history of the Ainu, share images of traditional Ainu textiles, and look into Ainu material culture. She will also discuss contemporary approaches from Ainu artists. You’ll be invited to explore one of the Ainu embroidery techniques: Kaparamip, which means cutting and applying thin cloth. Selina will demonstrate the full process of this technique, covering basting stitch, circular reverse appliqué, high density whip stitch, couching stitch, and chain stitch. At the end of class, you will be able to create an original sample of the basic Ainu motif, Moreu (spiral), and use these skills to explore more complex patterns.

March 23rd, 2023

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Kantha Embroidery
with Ekta Kaul

Explore the art of Kantha – beautiful embroidered and quilted textiles from the Indian subcontinent whose ethos are rooted in sustainability, storytelling and mindfulness. Discarded fabrics are layered, embroidered and repurposed into richly narrative textiles. Under Ekta’s gentle guidance you will learn fundamental kantha stitches and begin to create your own kantha. Ekta will share illustrative samples from international museum archives, the Tatter Library collection, and her recent field trip to India to discuss the historical context of Kantha and share her approach to this ancient craft.

March 30th, 2023

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Shisha Mirrorwork Embroidery
with Shahnaz Khan
Indian mirror work, known as Shisha, is the ancient Indian embroidery technique of attaching tiny mirrors onto fabric.  Developed during the 17th century, it is practiced widely throughout the Indian subcontinent, as well as the regions of Afghanistan, China, and Indonesia. In this class, students will be introduced to the history of Shisha, while learning the traditional technique of creating a grid across the mirror which can then be stitched open creating a border. Students will be encouraged to reflect on the cultural significance of embroidery, and what it can teach us about the history and traditions of our own and other cultures.

April 6th, 2023

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Syrian Cross-Stitch
with Wafa Ghnaim

City dwellers, farmers and nomadic communities, whether Arab, Kurdish, Armenian, Turkish, Muslim, Christian or Jewish, all have made their unique contributions to the colorful mosaic of Syria’s arts and craft traditions. Textiles woven in silks using various striped, bold, vibrant and ikat patterns, have a centuries-old tradition in Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus. Dresses, coats and jackets with various embroidery techniques of geometric patterns display the origins of the women who wear them. In this class, Wafa shares the endangered cross-stitch technique of Syrians who for many centuries have specialized in the ornamentation of dress. The class will revive the long lost textile traditions of Fortress of Simeon, Qalaat Samaan (قلعة سمعان), one of the oldest surviving churches located in northwest of Aleppo.

April 13th, 2023

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Blackwork Embroidery – March 9th, 2023

Lavradeira Portuguese Embroidery – March 16th, 2023

Ainu Embroidery – March 23rd, 2023

Kantha Embroidery – March 30th, 2023

Shisha Embroidery – April 6th, 2023

Syrian Cross-Stitch – April 13th, 2023

All classes are from 12pm – 2:30pm Eastern Time*

*Participants will also have access to recordings of the live sessions in case you cannot attend. Access to these recording will be available for one month after the date of the live session.

A materials list is posted on each class page. An optional materials kit is available for purchase through Tatter here.

$60 for one class. $350 for the series.

*These sessions will be recorded. A link to the recording will be emailed to all those who register following each live session. The links are live for one month for you to watch at your convenience.

We have two scholarships available for this experience. To be considered for the scholarship please email [email protected] with some information about yourself, your making practice, and why you would like to participate.

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