PieceWork Summer 2022: Embellish!

Learn how the love of adornment inspired our summer Embellishment issue!

Kate Larson Apr 15, 2022 - 2 min read

PieceWork Summer 2022: Embellish! Primary Image

Rickrack samples from the collection of Karin J. Bohleke featured in PieceWork Summer 2022. Photo by Matt Graves

On a perfect day in what seems a lifetime ago, I was making my way through a gallery at the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki, peering into one display case brimming with ancient wonders after another. A small group of tiny bronze coils and a modern re-creation showing shiny new coils stitched in patterns onto cloth kept me rooted in place long enough that a docent stopped to ask if I was OK.


Spiraalikoriste (spiral decoration), Suomi (Finland), 800–1050 CE (KM18000:2035). Wool, spiral decoration. Courtesy of Finnish Heritage Agency

Seeing an Iron Age example of mixed materials—bronze and handspun wool—up close had shifted my perspective on the very human relationship with embellishment as nothing ever had. The desire to beautify, to develop the skills needed to embellish our bodies and our homes, to gather materials of all sorts—be they ancient bronze coils or plastic beads—has been with us for a very long time. Of course it has.

Wyborny Shawl edge

Carolyn Wyborny’s knit shawl embellished with beads for the extra sparkle. Photo by Matt Graves

In this issue of PieceWork, I wanted to celebrate the ingenuity of makers who reach for disparate materials and form them into fabulous cloth. Dr. Annamarie Hatcher discusses the use of porcupine quills in Indigenous Mi’kmaq textiles, Karin J. Bohleke shows us a few marvelous examples of wavy-braid trims (rickrack!), Natalie Dupuis gives us the second installment in her series on goldwork couching, and Linda Ligon explores the silkworm cocoons turned tassel trimming by industrious Laotian weavers.

I hope the Summer 2022 issue of PieceWork inspires you to explore embellishment in your creations!

Kate Larson