Last Friday, during our fortnightly Instagram ‘Tea and Textiles Chat’, Selvedge Magazine's founder & editor Polly was joined by American-born Palestinian businesswoman Wafa Ghnaim, who founded Tatreez & Tea in 2015 to preserve Palestinian tatreez embroidery and storytelling traditions in the diaspora. Her self-published book, titled Tatreez & Tea: Embroidery and Storytelling in the Palestinian Diaspora (2018), documents the traditional patterns passed to her by her mother, award-winning Palestinian embroidery artist Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim. Tatreez & Tea has since become a social media sensation and global initiative offering online and live classes around the world in service of promoting the practice of Palestinian embroidery by anyone, anywhere. From teaching at universities around the world, to becoming the first-ever Palestinian embroidery instructor at the Smithsonian Museum — Wafa Ghnaim has led a tatreez revolution; a global collective of embroiderers, allies, designers and artists who are committed to preserving the tatreez artform. Watch Polly and Wafa’s chat on our Instagram page.
For generations, Palestinian women have gathered with their daughters to work collectively on embroidery projects, bonding with one another over a cup of tea. Guided by Wafa, participants in our upcoming virtual workshop, The Language of Palestinian Embroidery, will learn how to embroider traditional Palestinian motifs, as well as learn the art history of the historic villages they originate from. The pattern is an exclusive, custom sampler that incorporates the motifs of el-Khalil, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Bir Saba into a collaged 4x4 inch wall hanging on a beige even weave cloth. Open to students of all skill levels, the class offers an in-depth exploration of the traditional concepts and styles of Palestinian embroidery practiced by women for centuries, as well as the basics of transferring a pattern to fabric, threading a needle, the use of ombre thread, two methods of cross-stitching, and motif repetition. A materials pack will be sent to participants in advance of the workshop. See the event listing for more details and to book tickets.
Incorporate embroidery into your wardrobe with the beautiful garments from artisan company Romanian Blouse. Anda Ene recalls how she was inspired by Romanian textile heritage to found her company; “Some years ago, I started looking for blouses in the old markets, in the humble artisanal shops, everywhere I could find them and discovered the incredible textile heritage we have. From the exquisite handwoven textile and the peculiar cuts, to the impressive sewing techniques, amazing and unexpected chromatic combinations, and the infinity of the embroidered patterns, in eight years of intensive searching and reconditioning of old pieces, I very rarely find two garments to be quite the same.”
“Having such a rich source of inspiration, I started to work with a few women artisans and try to recreate some of the old patterns. In 2015 a collection of ten handmade blouses was launched and since then we have managed to create more than 25 distinctive models of blouses with handmade embroidery or woven in the loom silk. Sometimes it takes three months to finish a product. We have left only a few women artisans able to do the handmade embroidery, to weave the silk blouses and dresses, so we don’t have volumes, sometimes we don’t have immediate availability, because everything we do is handmade.” View all the blouses on our Artisan goods page.
Looking ahead to June, Selvedge are hosting a virtual talk where our exciting panel of guests will explore stitching and embroidery as a form of artistic expression, a subversive act, and as embellishment. Join us for a discussion of the different forms stitching and sewing can take with speakers Rebecca Devaney, Takashi Iwasaki and Pascal Monteil. Book tickets for the talk on the event page.
Rebecca Devaney is a textile artist and researcher. In 2018, following her graduation from the prestigious École Lesage, Paris, Rebecca worked as a professional haute couture embroiderer for Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Dior, Valentino, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton. Now a go-to authority of French couture embroidery, in 2019 Rebecca established Textile Tours of Paris to share her love of the rich heritage of textiles woven through the fabric of Paris.
Born in Hokkaido, Japan, Takashi Iwasaki moved to Winnipeg in 2002, attracted by the city’s vibrant and supportive arts community. Iwasaki's art practice diverges into many mediums from embroidery, paintings, collages, to sculptures; inspired by things and events which surround his daily life and the imaginary worlds and landscapes of his mind’s eye. The shapes and colours he uses have significant meanings that represent and reflect his state of mind.
Pascal Monteil has been a weaver in Tabriz, a ceramist in Kyoto, an icon painter in Istanbul and a boatman in Calcutta. After studying fine arts at Villa Arson, France, he travelled to Asia where his work with textiles and stitching began. Following a retrospective "I no longer recognize the sun" at the Château de Tarascon in 2017, he decided to set up his studio in Arles. On hemp canvas, Pascal Monteil weaves thread like a line of gouache, watercolour, thick oil or charcoal, evoking epic histories, tales of exiles, mystical experiences, death and religious faith in a whirlwind of striking colours. We featured Pascal in one of our recent articles in Issue 99 Home, read the article here: The Eye of the Needle: Pascal Monteil's Embroidery.
Finally, in our 100th edition, Issue 100 Anniversary, we take a deep dive into the Molas of Colombia. Read on for an extract of our article A Layered Story.
Molas are handmade layered textiles that are part of the traditional attire of the Guna people from Colombia and Panama. It is said that the tradition comes from body painting using natural colours to produce geometric designs originating from their ritual activities and world vision. Similar designs, mimicking the body painting, were rendered on fabrics after the Spanish invaded the region. In the beginning, the Kuna artists painted on fabric and later, from the 1850s onwards, they started using reverse appliqué, possibly as part of the influence of missionaries in the region. Other more poetic theories narrate how they received the knowledge of ‘the scissors’ from the ancestral mother that gave access to the different layers of the earth. According to the Guna, the world is organised in layers: four belong to the upper world and four to the one below. This layered world view is always the starting point of every mola, expressed in the layers of fabric and the colours used.
Read the rest of the article in Issue 100 Anniversary.