August 9, 2012

artisan craft

Berlin wool work was originated in 19-century Germany and, as a form of the needlepoint technique, was based upon hand-painted charts [patterns]. Back then the needlework was the most popular pastime of the female leisured classes. The term 'Berlin wool work' was not used until around 1820, when the Berlin patterns had become truly popular.
 Besides the usual cross-stitch and petit-point used in canvas embroidery, a raised or clipped stitch called Surrey was employed that created a thick wool pile and enhanced the color and shading of floral designs. Colored glass beads were also introduced to accent the floral and scenic patterns.

The patterns were engraved onto copper plates and printed onto point [ graph or squared] paper. Each small square representing one stitch contained a symbol indicating which color of wool to use. The German designs were exported all over Europe, Scandinavia, Russia and America. By the 1830s, England and France were designing their own patterns. Needlework shops called 'repositories' sprang up so that ladies could purchase new patterns, canvas and threads at their leisure. 

The gorgeous canvas [above] is a good example of using mixed stitches in Berlin wool work. The flowers are worked in 'petite point', meaning small stitch. This technique is very useful for embroidering small details and faces. The background has a count of five stitches to 1cm and the centers have ten stitches to 1cm.  
Recently the old trend made an awesome comeback. Several big name designer labels [Valentino, Balmain and D&G to name a few] used the needlepoint technique, including Berlin work, in their late Collections. 

D&G 35.000 skirt [left] and Valentino dress

Photos [via] were  formatted to  fit this blog parameters.


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