At the end of January, we took a close-up look at some silk embroideries from the Suzhou region of China, specifically those created be the Su Embroidery Studios. The studio continues the tradition of Chinese needlepainting from this region, by offering various types and grades of Chinese needlepainting, as well as custom reproduction work.
After highlighting the work of Su Embroidery Studios, you can imagine my delight when I received in the post a couple week ago a beautiful piece of Suzhou embroidery for my very own, as a thank you for highlighting the work of the studio! So of course, I want to share it with you, too, so that you can see the piece up close. A study of it provides an interesting lesson in color combinations to produce a given effect.
This is the needlepainting, an embroidered reproduction of a painting called “Meadows of Light.” It looks rather small in the photo above, but in fact, the finished embroidery is about 24″ x 16″. On the website, it is listed as a “fine quality” embroidery – not their top quality work, but work that is well above tourist-grade embroidery. I think it’s a very pretty scenic picture, a little reminiscent of impressionist painting, with its hazy background, subject, and color combinations.
The vivid waterlies really catch the eye. If you look at them up close, you can see that they are stitched in at least 8 shades of silk. Notice the way the water and the depth of the water is created, with cross-hatched stitching in various blues, greens, and turquoise.
The trees and foliage along the shore are also created with this cross-hatched stitching. The colors are worked on top of each other, to create depth and light.
Another example of the water, with its reflection of the shoreline plants. Just as the painter doesn’t set out to paint water with one flat color of blue, so the needlepainter, when stitching water, doesn’t just rely on a few colors of blue to achieve the look of real water. Instead, you can see that bright greens and even yellows, and several shades and tints of blue, are all worked together in layers to create the watery surface.
Distant trees and trees in the forefront reflecting the light of the sun come to life through a combination of dark to very light and bright greens, as well as bright yellows, white, and blue.
Now, to get right up to the stitching. Notice that the stitching on this piece is mostly straight stitches that criss-cross each other, and build up in layers to create the just the right effect. If you look carefully at the photo above, you can catch a glimpse of the fabric background of the needlepainting. The background fabric is a very thin silk onto which the painting is actually printed. The embroiderer works over this printed painting, building up stitches until the right effect is achieved.
I love looking up close at the colors in this piece! It is actually the combination of colors to achieve the painted effect that captivates me! Quite a few colors are used in the needlepainting, and in fact, I’ll show you some of the Chinese silk that’s used in this embroidery in a later article, if you’d like.
Thanks to Su Embroidery Studios, Chunhua Mao, and the stitcher who stitched “Meadows of Light,” for the beautiful needlepainting and the opportunity to see this type of embroidery up close! I’m certainly delighted to have the piece hanging in my home.
If you’d like to see some more close-up photos of high quality Suzhou embroidery, make sure you check out my previous post. I’ve also reviewed the book Threads of Light which focuses on the embroidery of the Suzhou region of China.
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