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This is the first article I have written about this delicate, multifaceted craft technique, but it surely won't be the last because there is a lot to say about embroidery.
When I was little - even though I am still pretty young, I swear! - parents would send their little girls to learn embroidery. I preferred swimming and board games so I was not at all pleased†with my mom's plan to sign me up for embroidery lessons. However, I gave in†and I have to say that after a few classes I started to love it, not only†because it's really satisfying to see a white piece of fabric become filled with shapes and colorful thread, but also because of the many stories that Agnese, the seventy-year-old woman who taught me, would always tell. While you are embroidering, you have the†chance to do a lot of chatting, in an atmosphere which makes you talkative and brings to mind even the furthest†memories. So, along†with stem stitch Agnese taught me how cows are milked, how during the war people would make coffee from chicory, how to wash your clothes with ash to make them snow white, and that she was still in love with her husband because he would come†home with fresh bread every day while she was setting the table.
Today, embroidery has evolved incredibly. People†don't just embroider blouses and linen, they†create real works of art. Searching magazines and blogs I found thousands of artists who have made this art into their passion and mission and have become real masters. I was particularly impressed by the work of Cayce Zavaglia, an embroiderer and painter born in Valparaiso, Indiana. She makes what she calls†thread paintings, which are made with thread but, if you look at them from a certain distance, look like paintings. Cayce, by choosing colors very accurately like one would do with paint, manages to obtain incredible nuances making her work extraordinary. What's more, she uses the thread in†different directions, evoking a painter's brushstrokes. The result is unbelievable!†Cayce pays a lot of attention to the back of her embroidered work, too, as you can see in the first image above: the back is a second version of the portrait, a more abstract but equally intense and fascinating version. There is a realistic quality to these works of embroidery which exceeds that of†some paintings or even some photographs. Take a look for yourself if you don't believe me.
Agnese and†Cayce had different approaches to embroidery but there is a common denominator between these two women: the passion in passing on the beauty of this magical craft.
If you liked this article maybe you would also enjoy†Painted Fabric: Runway show in the Cappella dei Magi in Florence.