"Needle-Painting...Art Needlework...Kensington Embroidery...Silk Embroidery...Art Embroidery...Society Silk Embroidery. Each of these terms describes a distinct style of needlework that was fashionable in Victorian America for approximately 33 years, beginning in 1877, and slowly fading from popularity between 1907 and 1912, when it was replaced by other styles of embroidery. This extraordinary embroidery style was skillfully wrought by hand by talented and dedicated needle artists, using richly colored silk floss on the finest linen. It became extremely popular as women turned their focus toward decorating their homes instead of merely keeping them neat and orderly, as had been the case earlier in the nineteenth century. Perhaps more importantly, embroidering these striking, lifelike silk floral designs on fine linen became an innovative opportunity for women to earn their own living. Needle-Painting, which was defined as, "the name applied to that kind of shaded flat stitch embroidery by which birds and flowers and all sorts of ornaments can be as faithfully reproduced as by brush-painting," (Encyclopedia of Needlework by TH de Dillmont), is perhaps the most visually accurate description of this fine are form." (Silk Art Embroidery by Donna Cardwell)
I discovered these extraordinary textiles several years ago while surfing a popular e-commerce auction site...after I bid on and won my first piece I was hooked! As my collection increased my desire for information increased. I found little in the way of current information available since Donna Cardwell's book had not yet been published, I did find antique and vintage books showing kits and designs that could be purchased, from these I gleaned information on periods and styles and...my desire to find more items grew, and grew, and grew... I even found one of the kits that had been opened but never started.
Here is a link to a flickr grouping of pages taken from these antique books. Society Silk embroidery Colored Studies
Some items in my collection:
I have found some of the most exquisite silk art linens at
Some examples from her shop, (notice that each is perfectly laundered and pressed! and sold...)
Roses and Lace
Pansies and Maidenhair Fern
I hope you appreciate the wonderful artwork created by women from a time past.....enjoy.