The Embroidery Craft

The ‘Embroidery Craft’ website is part of the eponymous project focused on preserving the intangible cultural heritage of the Uherský Brod region.

Uniqueness of the project

Although there are many websites focused on folklore and traditions, this one is unique due to the methodology employed: besides mapping folk traditions, it is trying to perpetuate them. We do not seek any mass deployment and huge numbers of visitors to the website, but, above all, we wish to keep the traditions alive.

Embroidery in the district of Uherský Brod

The district of Uherský Brod is a small area in South Moravia, the Czech Republic, rich with folklore and folk costume tradition. Although local villages lie only a few kilometres apart, each of them has its own distinctive costumes and customs. Most folk costumes are decorated with embroidery, which the local girls used to create during the wintertime when they did not work in fields. Formerly, embroidery was an affordable way of decorating, as it was not as expensive as other decorating methods; it was only time-consuming – and there was plenty of time during the winter dormant period. But it is actually due to its time-consuming nature that this art is slowly disappearing. Women who know how to make intricate embroideries for hours and hours on endare getting older and passing away – and their skill and experience are passing away with them. Our project is aimed not only at raising awareness of old crafts and how varied they are, but above all at creating a link between the old and young generation to mediate the know ledge of the traditional crafts to the latter.

Beginning of the project

The project was originally intended to include only an exhibition featuring a variety of folk costumes of the region and a book that was to illustrate the making of the costumes and their decoration in various districts and villages. Eventually we decided to supplement the book with a DVD containing instructions for embroidering various stitches step by step. It was here that the idea arose to create a website that would contain all the instructions and guides and could be updated from time to time with newly discovered stitches and other handicrafts.

Concept of the website

The picture guides contained in the ‘Embroidery Craft’ book are sufficient for experienced embroiders, but difficult to understand for a beginner. Video demos would have been too long due to the length and slowness of embroidering, and still not sufficiently explicit. That is why the stop-motion animation method was chosen, where the user can run key shots as a continuous animation, or frame by frame, using either the arrow keys or the scroll wheel. Thus, he or she can capture not only the right direction and movement, but also examine details, such as the exact spot where the needle should be stuck.

The individual stitches are accompanied by an explanation of what part of the garment the stitch is used for and for which location it is typical. The website allows you to search a specific stitch not only by name, but also by location, so it can serve as a guide to folk costumes and their place of origination, as the stitches and embroidery motifs are characteristic of specific areas. Currently, the website contains over 70 stitch animations and is still being expanded.

The ‘Embroideries’ section contains a detailed description of how to apply stitches in an embroidery. Here you will find a number of practical hints on how to proceed with embroidering, how to choose colours, and the order of steps, this all accompanied not only with descriptions and photographs, but also with direct references to the stitches used.

In addition, the website also contains video tutorials covering traditional weaving techniques (how to make wovent belts, ribbons, tassels, gloves and braided cords), techniques of decorating Easter eggs (for example eggs patchwork, batik, relief, scratched and with straw), as well decorating techniques (so far, the website contains: how make fan bird doves, corn husk dolls, Christmas decorations from beads, a wicker whip, wicker bell and horse decorations for folk festivals).

Visitors can also learn about these techniques directly in the museum, where these are regularly presented and taught by craftsmen from our region twice a year. Then the visitors may try to do everything at home with the help of the website.

Since August 2019 the website also contains videotutorials with the production of folk costumes. Even though the website is primarily focused on the preservation of traditional crafts of the district of Uherský Brod, it is also visited by people from more remote areas. For example some stitches are widespread and used else where, others may help to study the structure of similar stitches and in the production of folk costumes in other areas. That is why an English version of the site has been launched.

Being customized for mobile phones, the website can help those who would like to embroider but it can also serve as a practical guide to determining the place of origin of folk costumes right on the ground, both for the public and for ethnographers.

Maintaining the tradition alive

We believe that thanks to this activity, our museum will not only be a preserver of the past, but will help maintain rich and living tradition so four region. Traditional folk techniques open up a glimpse into the past: a glimpse of richness and poverty, of frugality and profligacy, but also of good or bad taste of the old artisans. Every little thing is evidence of the history of our ancestors’ lives, and the today’s creativity is a legacy for generations to come.

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