Artists, designers, and embroiderers

Artists, designers, and embroiderers

Edgitha (Ealdgyth; Edith of Wessex; c. 1025 - 1075) was the wife of (Saint) Edward the Confessor (c. 1042-1066) and the sister of King Harold II, who died at Hastings in 1066. She appears to have been an accomplished embroideress.

Martha Edlin was an English embroideress who was born in 1660. She is known for a series of extant samplers and other embroidered items, the earliest of which she made when she was eight years old. This is a polychrome band sampler (with multi-coloured rows of different stitches) stitched on linen with silk thread. It is dated to 1668. As in the case of many band samplers from that period, the embroidery is reversible.

Kaffe Fassett was born as Frank Fassett in San Fransisco, in 1937. Since long living in the UK, he became a famous author, and artist best known for the very colourful designs that he used for various forms of the decorative arts, including embroidery, knitting and patchwork, but also ceramics and painting. For a long time, he worked together with the fashion designer Bill Gibb (d. 1988).

Emillie Ferris is an artist from Suffolk, England, who specialises in the creation of hooped embroideries with detailed depictions of mushrooms, bees, rabbits, foxes, and other woodland creatures, but she also embroiders representations of pet animals. She calls it 'hoop-art', and the embroideries when completed are not detached from the frame.

Juana Gomez is a Chilean artist and was born in Santiago, Chili in 1980. She is particularly known for her embroideries that show the human body, worked over faded photographs. Her embroideries show the veins, muscles and nerves of the human body.

Han Sangsoo (c. 1934) is a Korean master embroiderer who holds the title of jasujang or embroidery artisan. He is regarded as a national treasure (Intangible Cultural Asset no. 80) by the South Korean government.

Edmund Harrison was the King’s Embroidererat the courts of James I (r: 1603-1625), Charles I (r: 1625-1649) and Charles II (r: 1660-1685) of England. Harrison grew up in London, but nothing is known of his apprenticeship as an embroiderer. His name is associated with William Broderick (d. 1620), King's Embroiderer to James I, and his son-in-law, John Shepley (Shipley; d. 1631), embroiderer to Charles I as Prince of Wales.

Sir Norman Bishop Hartnell was a British fashion designer. He held a Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, from 1940, and to Queen Elizabeth II from 1957.

Margaretha Helm (1659-1742: née Mainberger, also known as Margaretha Helmin) was an embroidery teacher working in Nuremberg, Germany. She was also a skilled copper plate engraver, who created a series of plates of many of her embroidery designs.

Martha Ann Erskine Ricks (d. 1901) was born into slavery in the USA, around 1817. Her father worked to buy his, his wife’s and their seven children’s freedom. When Martha was 13 the family sailed to Liberia. Within a year only Martha and her two brothers remained alive. Martha married and helped manage a farm where she grew coffee, cacao, sugar cane and ginger.

Hiroko Kubota is a Japanese needlework artist who is especially famous for her 'cat shirts'. She made her first cat shirt for her son. Photographs were published in social media, and these went viral. She subsequently opened an Etsy shop with the name of Go!Go!5 and she sold the embroidered shirts for some 250 to 300 US dollar a piece.

Inge Jacobson is a modern needlework artist from Ireland, now living in England, who uses commercial imagery and thread to alter the picture and give it a completely different twist. She recently worked for American Express to change three of their classic images. She studied photography at Kingston University, London.

Katsushila Hokusai was an artist, painter and printmaker, who became especially famous for a series of woodblock prints 'Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji', which includes the world-renowned print, 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa', made in the 1820's. He is sometimes accredited with having inspired the development of certain motifs of Japanese embroidery, as for instance in sashiko work. 

Kazuhito Takadoi is a contemporary needlework artist who works on the main theme of 'nature'. All the materials he uses are taken from nature and dried before before being worked. His embroideries are minimalistic, and he plays with shadows.

Mary Knowles, née Morris (1733-1807) was a Quaker, a gifted speaker and religious activist, especially in the struggle against slavery. She was also an accomplished craftswoman creating embroidered pictures. She was particularly known for a needlework representation of King George III, after a painting by Johan Zoffany (1733-1810), which he made in 1771.

Shizuka Kusano is one of the most admired textile artists in Japan. She works particularly on the decoration of kimono, obi (sashes) and tapestries. She has been teaching at various institutes, and partook in more than thirty exhibitions. One of her most important books is The Fine Art of Kimono Embroidery (New York: Kodansha America, 2006, reprint 2012).

François Lesage was a French embroidery designer and director of the embroidery atelier of Maison Lesage, Paris. Lesage had the nickname 'Mr Buttons'. He was born in Chaville, France, on 31 March 1929, the son of Albert Lesage and Marie-Louise Favot (a model working for the famous fashion designer, Madeleine Vionnet). He inherited the Maison Lesage from his father in 1949.

Mary Linwood was a renowned embroideress who specialised in the technique of needlepainting, whereby oil paintings and other illustrations are exactly copied in embroidery against a painted background. She was born in Birmingham, and by 1776 she was exhibiting her work to the Society of Artists in London.

August Macke (1887–1914) was a German artist working in the early twentieth century. He was a member of the German Expressionist movement, and in particular that of Der Blaue Reiter ('The Blue Rider') group. He is well-known for gentle, daily-life subjects, such as women shopping for hats, scenes in parks, and so forth. August Macke died in September 1914 in France, shortly after the start of the First World War (1914-1918).

Elisa Hirsch Maia (often known as Madam Maia) was a Brazilian embroiderer and entrepreneur, who is credited with developing Brazilian dimensional embroidery. Maia was a skilled needle woman who embroidered all her family’s linen and clothing. She began experimenting with flosses and dyes in the 1960's in order to develop a smoother thread and new colours.

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