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Kantha Embroidery Study – Seen through Western Eyes

February 10, 2011

Members of the class are sketching motifs from an Indian embroidery.

Last week we hung a small exhibit of embroideries from India in the studio. Saris, shawls, clothing and cow horn covers were part of the colorful array of items that graced the walls and tables. Level 2 Hand and Machine embroidery students studied the embroidery by drawing motifs from a particular item and made notes about the stitching. They studied the designs and patterns on the pieces as well. It was fun to make stitch studies to replicate some of the mark making done so freely with line and stitch. Students then designed a motif of their own to work in stitch. There are so many ways of using running and darning stitches to tell a story. So simple and at the same time so complex. Of course it is all seen through western eyes. Our study of the pieces would be understood differently than the people who actually made the embroideries. Our commonality is that we all have an appreciation of the beauty of stitch.

A little bird from an Indian shawl.

Deb Mitchell is designing a bird and also making color, fabric and thread choices for an original design.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2011 9:52 pm

    I think a few of us forget that it can be used as a design, making a motif, rather than just straight lines 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!

  2. February 11, 2011 12:11 am

    I have long been fascinated with Kantha, since I was introduced to it almost a decade ago by Anna Hergert. I, too, had to be reminded about its use as a design, a ‘filling’ stitch…Thank you!

  3. January 26, 2018 7:49 pm

    For the last 3 weeks my mind has been in India. How complex a running stitch can be! With it comes centuries of tradition from a cultures we have so little knowledge about! The little bird has become a real treasure and the many examples of the Kantha stitch which we were able to see”live” were amazing. What a treat to be able to study them! Now I’m making my own design based on a fish I sketched in class. Thank you for this and all the information you and Penny shared with us.

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