Artists, designers, and embroiderers

Artists, designers, and embroiderers

Henriëtte Slavekoorde-Braunstahl from Den Haag (The Hague; 1885-1983), The Netherlands, was a student at the Industrieschool voor Meisjes ‘s-Gravenhage [The Hague]) between 1899 and 1904. She received her diploma as a handwork teacher in 1904. Henriëtte Slavekoorde-Braunstahl was particularly talented and later was to make items for the Dutch royal family.

Lisa Smirnova is a Russian-born and Moscow-based artist who creates cery colourful embroideries that sometimes resemble pencil drawings. She embroiders representations of famous people, but also of unknown people, tattoed men and animals. Her work is extremely time-consuming and may take months to complete. Recently, she also ran a project embroidering garments, together with the fashion band GO.

Debbie Smyth is a modern embroidery artist from Ireland who started work in 2009. She creates forms of art (installations, designs) by carefully plotting pins and stretching thread between them. Her works may be called thread drawings. They are both two- and three-dimensional and generally of a large scale. She created art work for the firms of Adidas, Hermes, and Sony, and for the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestre.

St. Dunstan was an English priest and abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Worcester (and London), and finally from 960 until his death in 988 Archbishop of Canterbury. He played an important role in English politics, and lived in exile in Flanders (955-957). In 973 he officiated at the coronation of King Edgar (the Peaceful), at Bath. The service, devised by Dunstan, still forms the basis of British coronation rituals.

St. Etheldreda (Æthelthryth; St. Audrey) founded the double monastery of Ely in 672. She was the daughter of the East Anglian King Anna, and later became the Queen of Northumbria. She is recorded to have granted a fine stole and maniple, embroidered by herself with gold and precious stones, to St. Cuthbert, the contemporary young prior of Lindisfarne. Her feast day is 23 June, the date of her death.

Helen Stevens is an embroidery artist from Bury St Edmunds, England. In 1981 she established her own studio, called 'True Embroideries'. She exhibited her work at many venues, both in England and abroad. She has also been teaching in many ways, including via YouTube films, and she has published a series of books and brochures.

Izziyana Suhaimi is a Singapore-based textile artist who works principally with weaving and embroidery techniques. Her work is characterised by a combination of illustration and embroidery, as for instance portraits of women decorated with geometric or floral embroidered motifs (see illustration below).

Surayia Rahman (1932-2018) was an artist, designer and kantha-maker from Bangladesh who initially painted pictures and designed dolls, but later promoted the development of kanthas, traditionally made for private use, into an art form for public display. A documentary film about her life and work is entitled Threads: The Art and Life of Surayia Rahman, directed by Cathy Stevulak (first shown in 2016).

Giovanni Antonio Tagliente, from Venice, Italy (c. 1465-1528?) was an author, calligrapher, printer and publisher, who in 1527 published a pattern book (Opera Nuova ... Intitolata essempio di recammi), which also included descriptions of how to transfer a pattern to a textile ground material.

Phoebe Anna Traquair was born in Ireland, and achieved wide-spread recognition for her role in the development of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland. She was working within the context of the Celtic Revival and the pre-Raphaelites.

Pierre Vallet (sometimes written Valet) was born in Orléans, France, and became known as a botanical artist, engraver and embroidery designer. He worked at the French court under the patronage of Marie de Médici of Florence (1575-1642), the second wife of Henry IV (1553-1610). Vallet published various botanical theses with paintings of indigenous flowers as well as of more exotic forms from Africa.

Giovanni Andrea Vavassore (fl. 1530-1573) was a Venetian who was active in the mid-sixteenth century. Vavassore (who was also known as Guadagnino) produced at least one pattern book for embroidery, including Modano (Tuscan filet) and for drawn work. He is particularly known for his Corona di Racammi ('Crown of Embroidery'), which was published in 1530 and reprinted two years later.

Federico de Vinciolo was a pattern designer and lace maker from Venice, who lived and worked in the sixteenth century. Among other places, he worked at the court of Henry II of France (1519-1559). In 1587 he produced a needlework pattern book called (in short) Les singuliers et nouveaux pourtraicts ... pour touttes sortes d'ouvrages de lingerie .... 

Roger Vivier (1913-1998) was a French shoe designer who worked closely with a number of Parisian fashion houses. Vivier started working for Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1930's. At the time his designs were regarded by most retailers as shocking. Vivier went on to work for various fashion houses, including that of Christian Dior, in order to create one-off shoes, as well as shoes for particular fashion show collections.

Jess de Wahls (1983) is a textile artist and embroiderer who was born in (communist) East Berlin, and moved to the UK in 2004. She has set up a commercial line in embroidered flower patches that can be ironed onto T-shirts and other garments, and which are sold, among others, by Liberty of London. 

Dame Elizabeth Wardle was an embroideress from Staffordshire. She married Thomas Wardle (1831-1909) in Leek (Staffordshire) in 1857. Her brother George Young Wardle worked for William Morris, who lived and worked in Leek between 1875 and 1878.

Margaret McArthur Weir was a lace maker who lived near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She had learnt making tambour lace in Scotland and brought this skill with her to Canada. She made and taught this form of lace in the Hamilton region, hence its name Hamilton lace.

Roanna Wells is a fine-art artist based in Sheffield (UK). She trained in embroidery and applies this technique to provide for “the conceptual use of mark making and an expressive line, by using stitch as a drawing tool.”

Dorie Wilkie is an embroiderer who studied for a City and Guild diploma in Art, Design and Embroidery, at Telford College, with further studies at Leith School of Art. She organised and worked on several commemorative embroideries from Scotland, notably the Prestonpans tapestry (2010), Great Tapestry of Scotland (2013) and the Scottish Diaspora tapestry (2014).

Hanna Mathilda Winge (née Tengelin; 1838-1896) was a Swedish designer and painter, who created various designs for embroideries. She was the daughter of Johan Thimotheus Tengelin (a blacksmith) and Anna Maria Hultman.

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