What is Embroidery ?

Henriëtte Braunstahl, 1885-1983, photographed around 1904 of . Henriëtte Braunstahl, 1885-1983, photographed around 1904 of . TRC collection.

From September 2013 until March 2014, the Textile Research Centre in Leiden organised an exhibition named 'What is Embroidery?' The exhibition showed a wide range of examples of embroided cloths and garments from all over the world, emphasizing the wide variety of materials, techniques, designs and colours.

The exhibition not only showed actual examples, including a large number of completely dressed mannequins with embroidered clothing, but also the tools associated with this ancient craft, and provided detailed information on all the associated technical aspects. The term embroidery was being used in its broadest ‘umbrella’ sense. The exhibition included (among others) historical and modern examples of free style and counted thread forms, as well as appliqué, couching, drawn and pulled thread work, patchwork, quilting and smocking.

The first part of the exhibition was used to show technical details, such as equipment, thread, ground cloths, and means of transferring a design. The second section used examples of embroidery from the TRC’s extensive collection, and presented a wide range of forms and uses of this decorative technique from around the world.

The third section was about a young lady called Henriëtte Braunstahl from Den Haag (1885-1983), who was presented in 1904 with a diploma from the Industrieschool voor Meisjes (The Hague) as a handwork teacher. The TRC was given her collection of exercise books, water colour albums, photographs, as well as samples of her work, by Henriëtte Braunstahl’s family. The TRC embroidery exhibition was seen as the moment to show the embroidery skills of a girl from over one hundred years ago and to illustrate the teaching methods of the time.

YouTube film of the exhibition, made by Andrew Thompson.

For a photographic impression of the exhibition, made by Shelley Anderson, click here.


Last modified on Friday, 16 December 2016 19:00