Portrait frames to embroider

I have given the women a new task now. But only 6 of the women are involved. The pieces are bigger, 90×90 and will cost about 300€ each to embroider (that money I haven’t earned yet). On these pieces, the women are now more aware of their participation on the creation of the artwork together with me. In November I will be travelling to them to take their picture while they embroider. By April next year, the pieces will be ready and I will embroider their portrait in each piece.

30 skjorter a 50 cent

 Mora til min venninne har funnet et ”kunkurs utsalg” der hun en nesten daglig innom. Mannen som ekspederer er veldig hyggelig og har mange varer fra broderings fabrikker som stenger.

Det er min fjerde gang her og sist, tok jeg med meg en hel eske med tegninger og gjennomhullet bake papir. Det lukter loppemarked av papiret og fleste av dem, har aldri blitt brukt. Jeg blar gjennom en haug barneskjorter og han sier ”De har ligget der så lenge, at jeg er mest lyst til å kaste dem. Jeg betaler ham 15 euro og teller til sammen 30 skjorter. Jeg tar med alle som er igjen.

Hjemme i Norge med min mor som min mentor og assistent, starter vi jobben av å vaske, stryke og klippe. Stoffet er i tyn syntetisk baby farger med brodert Madeira ornament. Broderiet må strekkes og strykes med varm strykejern. Men for varme temperaturer vil smelte det syntetiske stoffet. Min mor kan denne jobben utmerket vel og det har blitt hennes oppgave. Men det tar fort halv time å stryke en skjorte og hun blir sliten i armene. Som hennes lærling må jeg gjøre disse oppgavene sammen med henne. Men hun er så flink til det og jeg er utålmodig nok til å drøye denne utfordringen.

”Nå skal jeg stryke en skjorte og du skal stryke en skjorte. Og jeg stryker ikke mer før du også har stryket.”

Different Same

Regina is holding a young boy on her arms, “you must not mind the mess. I have been working all day on the fields and it’s always something to do when you have small children. People should have children when they are 24-26. When you get older you don’t manage to do everything. You are more tired you know?” I don’t think she has to worry about having children at late age she looks pretty young.

“Look I am so sorry if you don’t like our work. But we did the best we could. But one never knows. There is a piece here that I don’t like so much and I wonder if you will accept it.”

My heart jumps as she unfolds the pieces and explains “you see this technique is very difficult to work in this kind of material, therefore I must have 40€ for each piece.” She points at some pieces that look nicer from the back than from the front, “This ones here, in this other technique are much easier and we take 20€ for each. But you should know that is still are better paid work.” Shadow stitching (ponto de sombra) was one of my favourite techniques. Very simple embroidered from the back, one stitch on the left, one stitch on the right, shaping crosses. This technique is usually applied on transparent materials on small shapes as leaves and small flowers.

One day at a flea marked I found a white blouse with embroidery. I wore it for a while and after some time I got fed up with the whites on my wardrobe and coloured them pink. This particular blouse picked up different shades of pink because it was made of different materials. I have been wearing it for years; every time I feel like being beautiful I put it on.


Now I have stolen the embroidery pattern and printed in different materials. I gave the women the embroidery pieces with thread in many different colours. They were all supposed to embroider the same pattern but the choice of material, colour and choice of technique would bee freely up to each one of them.

These women seldom embroider what they like, but what they get from the embroidery house. This was a big challenge for them. It took me a lot of explaining to convince them that they could embroider exactly as they liked.

“I didn’t know that you were going to make shirts out of it. If I knew I would probably do it differently.” At first I was only after giving these women a chance to create something at the same time as I would be able to show the uniqueness in hand work of each woman. But as I cant avoid, giving things a practical purpose, I found out that I could transplant the pieces into wearable items. As it seams to me, embroidery is at its best when in use. Weather its in the picture on the wall, your table cloth or, your clothing.

“I am in heaven… and if no one buys my 15 pieces, I will have to be beautiful every other day of the month.”