About a month ago we had a lovely visit from Leonor Barreiro, a fellow embroidered from Argentina. This was actually her second visit to our studio. Leonor was in Australia travelling and visiting family for a few months and stopped by our studio before Christmas for a quick hello and chat over tea and cake. But this second time around we had organised to have a sewing afternoon. It's something we dearly miss, having the banter of many people in the studio. Maricor and I are so used to each other's company after a lifetime that we can go hours without saying anything. Especially if there's a deadline to hit.
Leonor's work is amazing. http://www.yosoyele.com.ar/?section=bordado It's intricate and delicate and it was a real pleasure to see it up close. She was working on a piece that I had earlier seen a progress photo online (the black background piece) but it was really amazing seeing the physical piece. I thought our stitches were tiny but hers are on another level!
Leonor also told us about the sewing circle she works with back home in Argentina, Rita Smirna. The group grew organically from the students she learnt with while doing embroidery workshops. They have a great blog at http://ritasmirna.blogspot.com.au/, which unfortunately doesn't look like it has been updated lately. But their past posts are worth looking at to get a feel of the collaborative works they create.
Leonor describes how the group will often work on one piece together. Each member adding their own embroidery onto what has been stitched before, similar to a exquisite corpse artwork.
We were very lucky to take part in our own small sewing circle with Leonor. She explained the 'rules' they usually use to help having a "blank canvas" less daunting. They collectively decide on a colour palette as well as a handful of stitch styles to keep a level of continuity across the embroideries.
The photos below show you what we ended up with. It's interesting to see that while we all worked with the same colours each work is quite distinct and has a totally different tone.
It was really enjoyable having this freedom to experiment, to let our needles meander and let something grow without a plan or design. It's very different to how we have to work commercially where there isn't a lot of time to experiment. But it's a catch22. Experimentation keeps us motivated and open to new inspirations and ideas, which we'll often feed back into our commercial work so we need to remember every now and then to free ourselves and start with an empty square of cloth.
PS. Leonor also very kindly gifted us some sewing supplies she sells through her line 'ele'. It has the most lovely vintage thread that i've now become obsessed with sourcing online. They're called cordonnet and if anyone knows where to find these we'd really appreciate your help!