Monday, May 9, 2011



"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 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:

Here is a personal favorite of mine...Bunnies!  This is the only one I have ever seen like this...Sorry about the wrinkles, I have these packed away for now.

I have found some of the most exquisite silk art linens at
                                                   Em's Heart

 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.



Peppercorns said...

I have seen most of VE's collection and it is wonderful! These pieces are magnificent and the care and time dedicated to create them is amazing.

Great post and so informative. Thanks VE.

Doodle said...

Wow, great information. I used to embroider as a young person, but to do this. I may have just found something I can do. Must do some research and see what I can find.

Thanks VE for the great informative post! : )

Runs With Scissors said...

Beautiful VE! Thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

wow its amzing. i like your post. you are using the very attractive image in your thumbnail. I hope it will be a good story. Keep up the good work.i like your website.great work