A local chapter of the Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery International Guild is being formed in the Jamestown area. These chapters are formed by people who want to share their interest in Brazilian embroidery with others who live nearby.
Brazilian embroidery is a work of art that can transform many items into a priceless heirloom. One can use any fabric that one can put a needle through as the canvas. Such pieces of art are created on garments, quilts, pillows, Christmas ornaments or can become a framed wall hanging.
Brazilian embroidery is the type of embroidery where one can choose from a whole pallet of stitches that can be recognized from many other types of embroidery such as needlepoint, crewel embroidery, needle weaving and stumpwork. The question that arises many times is, if the stitches are not Brazilian then why is it called Brazilian embroidery?
Members practice, learn new stitches, discuss upcoming events and share personal experiences under the guidance of their instructor, Freida Dewey. Present at the October meeting, clockwise from lower right, were: Elaine Rissel, Jeanne Kent, Jane Kzyzanowski, Janet Freedline, Linda Phelman and Elaine Smathers.
P-J photo by C. Ralph Heeter
The origin of the style is what makes it Brazilian. The credit goes to Brazil where this embroidery was developed. In early 1960, Elisa Hirsh Mia was embroidering household linens and clothing for her family. Dissatisfied with available floss and colors, she started dying the rayon thread that was readily available in Brazil. She began teaching her stitches and selling her specially dyed threads. Madam Mia thus formed the company called VariCor. The VariCor threads were eventually sold around the world including the United States. Although the VariCor threads are no longer available, rayon floss used for Brazilian embroidery is now manufactured in the United States.
Rosie Montague brought Brazilian embroidery to the United States. When she left Brazil she brought her Brazilian art with her. Montague also wrote the first Brazilian embroidery book written in English.
Brazilian embroidery differs from other types of embroidery in three ways. First, it is three-dimensional. Second, it uses specifically manufactured rayon threads of different weights and colors, and third, the background is filled with a fine growth of branches and very small field flowers.
The threads, or floss as some prefer to call it, have a different twist than other embroidery threads. Brazilian rayon is a ''Z'' twist thread; other threads are ''S'' twist. It is important to follow the instructions for the Brazilian patterns. If one executes the stitches as in traditional embroideries, one will untwist the threads, causing them to separate. Use a simple test to identify the direction of the twist. Hold the thread in the right hand, take the thread between the thumb and index finger of the left hand, roll the thread to the right toward the right hand. If it tightens, it is a ''Z'' twist; if it untwists and one sees many strands, it is an ''S'' twist thread.
The basic stitches are used repeatedly in Brazilian embroidery as are their variations: stem/outline stitch, satin leaf stitch, bullion knot stitch, detached buttonhole stitch, pistil stitch, lazy daisy stitch, cast-on stitch, couching stitch and the French knot. Variations of these stitches are endless. The original basic stitches were used to create the original nine Brazilian flowers: the rolled rose, cast-on daisy, bullion rose, pistil daisy - sometimes called gerone daisy or aster daisy, peach blossom - also known as the apple blossom or pear blossom, lazy daisy, creep flower, the Japanese violet - also called oriental violet or cherry blossom, and the boucle rose.
This beautiful embroidery work has become a lost art in its native country. Embroidery is still being done there but has become very flat and conventional, lacking the dimension it once had. The work being stitched here in our country has become more dimensional and is more like what was stitched in Brazil years ago. Sometimes traditions are lost; the local chapter of the BDEIG hopes to promote Brazilian embroidery and keep it alive.
The first informational meeting of the local chapter was held on Aug. 28 with women attending from Portville, Wellsville, Randolph, Sinclairville, Mayville, Jamestown, Lakewood, Bemus Point and Warren.
Future meetings will be held the second Tuesday of each month in the Fluvanna Free Library on Fluvanna Avenue Extension. Meetings will begin at 6 p.m. sharp and conclude no later that 8 p.m.
The second meeting was held on Sept. 11.
The name Brazilian B.A.-B.E.S. (Brazilian Art - Beautiful Embroidery Stitches) was chosen.
Virginia Kirchhoff is treasurer and Jane Kzyzanowski, secretary. Janet Freeline is in charge of arranging for a table at a local craft show. Carol Heeter has helped arrange for publicity. Freida Dewey, chairwoman, ordered 30 small prints from Virginia Chapman that will be stitched by several members of the group and inserted into greeting cards or made into Christmas tree ornaments. These items will be sold at the selected upcoming craft show.
Activities that will be a part of each meeting include announcements of future events for the local chapter and the BDEIG, progress on the projects that the chapter has chosen, a short lesson of a small design that uses the stitch of the month, stitching time for a personal project and a show and share, if time permits.
A list of items that would be helpful for participants include a small embroidery hoop; small embroidery scissors; milliners needles, two of each size 1, 3 and 5; darning needles, two of size 18; tapestry needles, size 22 and 24; a doodle cloth; and two or more threads each of all seven weights of threads. A kit with a doodle cloth and variety of threads can be purchased at the meeting for those who do not have these items.
Prospective members can attend two meetings before they are required to join.
Dues were set at $25 for one year. Currently, money collected from dues is used to purchase stitching supplies needed for meetings and to secure a table at a local craft show where members will be able to sell small handmade Brazilian embroidery items and distribute information on the local chapter.
The primary benefit of belonging to a chapter is the education available at monthly meetings. Twelve learning projects are presented each year. Membership is open to all stitchers, novice and experienced. Criteria for membership is a love of Brazilian embroidery and the desire to learn more about this needle art.
For more information, contact Frieda Dewey at 484-0540.