Have you noticed a little more chatter on the inter webs these days about whitework embroidery?
I think 2019 might be the Year of Whitework.
I’ve seen quite a few embroiderers discussing whitework lately on social media. Thistle Threads is offering an intense online class on 17th century whitework samplers starting this year. I’ve received half a dozen inquiries about this whitework instructional book recently.
And I’ve been playing with whitework ideas lately, too.
Once in a while, the whole notion of pristine white-on-white embroidery beckons me irresistibly. And the call has been strong in the last month or so!
Along with the strong appeal of whitework these days, there’s this set of books. They were a Christmas present. And I think you deserve to know about them!
This is a set of instructional books for Aemilia Ars, which is an Italian needle lace technique.
As Italian needle laces go, Aemilia Ars is a relatively new kid on the block – developing in the latter part of the 19th century – but its roots stretch back to the Italian needle laces of the Renaissance.
Needle lace and whitework go together, and Aemilia Ars is a beautiful form of needle lace that is relatively easy to learn. It employs stitches most embroiderers already know, making heavy use of the buttonhole stitch and various detached fillings.
There are, to my knowledge, six books in this collection written by Blanca Rosa Bellomo, Carla D’Alessandro, and Luisa Monteventi. Three are devoted to learning the technique in graduated practice pieces, and the other are stand-alone books that focus on borders, on floral motifs, and on classical fruit designs. I haven’t received the fruit book yet, but it’s a-comin’!
The books are in Italian, but if you don’t read Italian, that’s ok. They are packed with clear photos that tell you pretty much everything you need to know.
Anything you get stuck on, never fear – Google is your friend in this case, and a quick search of the term either through a translation app or a search engine will bring you the enlightenment you seek.
You can see from the photo of the supplies that there’s not really anything here that’s exotic or strange. Cotton threads, needles, pins, scissors … they’re fairly universal supplies for any needlework!
As far as the instructions are concerned, the step-by-step photos speak for themselves.
And whenever a little clarification is necessary, it comes in the form of very clear diagrams that show the movements of stitches, the orientation of thread to needle, and all the needful information for working the technique.
I can’t take you through every book in the collection in one article, but suffice it to say that all the books are equally clearly photographed.
They come with drawn designs to use as practice projects, and they walk you through the process of working the designs.
The “Course 1 – 3” books are excellent for learning the basics of Aemilia Ars through incremental steps that develop your skill as you progress through the books.
This is one of the stand-alone books, focusing on needle lace borders. This particular books initially attracted me to this collection.
Like the course books, it is full of clear diagrams and photos for creating beautiful needle lace borders on the edges of linens and the like.
The other stand-alone book that I have right now focuses on floral motifs that can be used as inserts on linens or as stand-alone needle art.
Then there’s the Frutti Classici book, which I don’t have yet. It promises to focus on fruit motifs.
Where to Find Them
Where to find the books is a bit tricky, depending on where you live.
Check out the inventory at Lacis in California. They carry a very wide range of lace-related and embroidery-related books from all over the world. If you search their online catalog for “Aemilia Ars,” these books will show up in the results. Unfortunately, their website is a bit nutty – I can’t link directly to any individual listing.
Through Amazon, this link will take you to a list of whatever books are available on Amazon on the subject.
In Australia, it looks like Alison Cole carries the first two of the course books.
You can also go to Amazon Italy and search “Aemilia Ars” and most of these books come right up in the results. I’ve not ordered from Amazon in Italy, but you’ll definitely want to do a currency conversion first and check on shipping costs before placing an order if you don’t live in Italy.
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