Monday, May 28, 2012

Bulgarian-Inspired Brick Stitch

Since I'm somewhat between major projects at the moment, and the craft room needs a major cleaning in order to be useful again, I'm catching up on some smaller projects.

At the beginning of the year, I accepted the challenge of hand making something for the first few people who asked. I had 3 people take me up on the offer, and each asked for completely different things.

The item I'm working on at the moment is an embroidered pouch front. This particular project offered me a unique challenge.  It's going to a friend that does 11th century Bulgarian. That's pretty far from the well-documented world of 15th century Flanders! I struggled for a while to get ANY information on decoration or motifs from early period Bulgaria, and most of the leads I got directed me to Byzantine or Middle Eastern embroidery. These didn't seem right.

Eventually, completely on a whim, I started looking at Ukrainian embroidery. When I switched my searches to traditional Slavic embroidery, I started getting somewhere. Unfortunately, most "traditional" folk costume ideas were created in the 19th century. Yet the designs within the embroidery are very reminiscent of the types of designs found in medieval German brick stitch. And brick stitch I can do!

So I have compromised a bit, but I feel that the context justifies it. I'm creating a piece in a style I'm familiar with, but executing it using Bulgarian influence. The colors I've chosen are pretty much directly from Bulgarian folk dress (look at the last photo on the page), and the particular pattern I chose (with a slight modification of the pattern repeat) is evocative of many of the Slavic motifs I came across.  It's certainly not something I would have created for myself, so in that respect it's a nice change.


  1. Huzzah for Bulgarian personas! And that's a lovely pattern! If you'd like some more photos of Bulgarian embroidery, one of us can stop by our local museum and take some for you. Just let me know.


    incipient College of Saint John of Rila
    Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

    1. Tamara, thanks for the offer! My friend is actually the one badly in need of help with her persona- if you can help her with ANY early period information, that would be great! If you contact me at edythmiller at juno dot com, I can get you in touch with her directly. Thanks for commenting!