Modern Silk Embroidery Technology
For centuries silk was cultivated, spun and weaved into textiles using the same age old techniques developed in the Neolithic Age. Artisans in embroidery passed on their skills to apprentices who spent decades perfecting methods that combined precision and artistry to create stunning embroideries with intricate details.
The advent of computers and modern technology can now replicate the work of an artisan with remarkable accuracy and in breathtaking speed. The works produced by these machines are not plagued by human error, leading to beautiful pieces of embroidery that capture the original work of a master embroiderer and then replicate it with exactness.
At the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute in Suzhou, China, master embroiderers create beautiful pieces of art by hand that can then be reproduced by computers and machines with perfect likeness.
To turn a handmade embroidery into one that can be made by machine, a skilled embroiderer has to first design and make the piece by hand, one stitch at a time. Designs can be originals or reproductions of paintings, photographs or ancient embroideries made centuries ago. As the embroiderer creates the piece, each individual stitch is programmed into advanced software that records the color of thread, the type of stitch and the length of each stitch used by the embroiderer. During this phase, there is no room for error and only the highest skilled embroiderers are employed to create the patterns used for these machines.
The process of creating a piece by hand and inputting the information into the machine can take up to twelve weeks. However once the information is programmed into the computer, the time to create one piece falls to a fraction of that time while retaining all the nuances and detail of the embroiderer’s own hand. These machines make it possible to own the work of a master embroiderer without the time constraints of waiting for months. In addition these new technologies enable pieces to be crafted for a fraction of the price, allowing these beautiful works of art to be accessible to everyone with the aesthetic to appreciate them.
Once only available to the Chinese Royal Family, advancements in modern technology have brought new life to the ancient art form of silk embroidery. Just as advances in printing and photography have enabled paintings to be replicated, so to have advances in computer technologies and modern machines allowed for embroideries to be made for everyone to enjoy.
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- Dowdey, Patrick. Threads of light: Chinese embroidery from Suzhou and the photography of Robert Glenn Ketchum. Los Angeles, Calif.: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1999.
- Jacob, Georges. "Silk - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk (accessed June 28, 2012).
- "Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute Co., Ltd. - About Us." Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute Co., Ltd.. www.topemb.com/en/aboutusshow.php?parentid=2 (accessed July 26, 2012).