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Stitching Beauty


Slowly Slowly … Little by Little

Stitching beauty takes time, a lot of time, and a lot of patience.

This is the piece I made. It is my superpower.

37cm x 25 cm

In autumn 2008 I met Tamay in the market place in Sapa, North Vietnam.

I was fascinated by the clothes she wore and the wonderful textiles she had for sale.

Tamay offered to teach me how to make their embroidery, just as she taught her daughter and her little sister. In exchange, I helped Tamay to sell her textiles to the tourists who came through the market each day.

The learning process took me nearly three months working 9-5 everyday. In this time I reached the middle of the big trees, halfway.

I finished the piece over the next 9 months in India and London.

Here is a little more detail as to how it is made.

The embroidery is worked from the back, it is the same pattern as on the front side of the piece and almost as neat.

Firstly the silk is prepared. Three threads are selected, they are wrapped around your second toe and then rolled on your thigh to make the thread. The thread is then ‘cleaned’ of any bobbles or bits of fluff before it is ready to be used.

This is counted stitch embroidery. Working by counting the threads of the base cloth. The base cloth is traditionally a hand spun hemp cloth that is dyed with indigo. It is all made using plants cultivated in the local area.

The stitches must be made in a specific order, this makes the patterns that are so unique to the Red Dzao and even more specifically to the Red Dzao from Taphin village.

If a mistake is made the front and the back will not match up and so the stitched must be unpicked and re-done.

Here is the piece I am working on now, even more slowly than the first piece I made. It is possible to see the counted stitches on the base cloth.

I will write more about how this has become my superpower in another blog.

Now I have to go, but this is a good start to understanding the detailed processes involved in making such a tiny piece of embroidery, the nice thing about a blog is that there is always more to come!


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