Sunday, May 04, 2008

Suzhou; Embroidery Showroom

During our stop in Suzhou we visited an Embroidery Factory Showroom. I've become really fascinated with these embroidered paintings and Eric and I have been investigating ways to manufacture something using this technique. One idea is notebooks covered with this pretty handiwork.

These ladies where chatting away happily while they worked, until I walked in to take photos. One thing I like about this type of product is that it is already a part of Chinese culture. Unlike the cell phone factories we've visited, which are too noisy for conversation, even if it were allowed, these ladies can sit comfortably and catch up on gossip.

There are three classes of this type of embroidery. A is the most labor intensive, requiring one embroiderer 40 days of work (depending on the size of the piece) B is less so, requiring 30 days. And C only requires 15 days.

The pattern is screened onto the silk. Here you can see what a beautiful texture the finished needlework has. Renderings of feathers, fur and grasses are especially beautiful because of the nature of the silk threads.

Double sided embroidery has a long tradition in China, and it takes a great deal of expertise. Each side of the pattern is a mirror image with no wrong side. I still can't quite figure out how they manage it. They use a more transparent kind of silk so that you can see both sides at once and then mount it on a rotating stand like this one. I've also seen this technique used on giant folding screens.

This is the Peking stitch. It is actually a series of tiny, identical knots. It is incredibly beautiful and incredibly expensive to complete. This piece was about 8x10 and took 40 days to complete.

Here we are with our hostess. I enjoyed learning more about the details of this process, but I am definitely intimidated at the prospect of ordering and managing the manufacture of something like this. Especially since the ideas we have in mind will require the services of two separate factories. Eek!I'll keep you posted...

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