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The Composition In Folk Embroidery.

Today we shall talk about the composition in embroidery. You will get to know about ornaments and its use to decorate household stuff in times of old.

Ornamental patterns decorate many things. If a thing is beautiful, it is pleasant to use it. You have many confections at home: fine china, in-wrought drapery, embroidered cushions, ovenware Try to decorate them yourself.

In former times only a few could buy fine things. In the villages away from big cities people made and decorated the things they needed themselves wooden spoons, plates, water scoops, and others.

Some of them survived to our times. Many of such things are elaborately made. Now they are kept in museums. We do not know the names of those who made them, but their art is called folk art.

The works of the folk craftsman delight us in color schemes, amazing pictures of plants, birds, and animals. Patterns are wonderful: flowers, outlandish birds, and thin and neat branches of trees. And what colors!

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How could the folk craftsman create such a gorgeous design?

Who could give him a cue?

It was the nature that directed him; he had seen it in the forest or in the garden. Look carefully at the plants, how their leaves grow, what their shape is, what the colors are.

Before making something, you should think the whole item over, decide upon the shape, arranging of the pattern, its character, and color. The artistic solution of the ornament is included in the general concept of composition.

The Latin word composition means arranging separate parts into a complete unit in a certain order. Together these parts are supposed to create a definite shape.

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In the properly designed composition, all the elements are interconnected, it is impossible to remove anything without the loss of integrity of the picture and the harmony of composition.

The composition has the principal elements and secondary, subordinate elements. The principal elements are those that attract attention first and bear the main idea, the concept of the pattern.

The major element of the design must be connected and balanced by the secondary elements. The main part is not necessarily located in the center of the composition. It can be emphasized by the means of contrast color or its size and shape.

The composition can be three or two-dimensional. Embroidery is a two-dimensional composition. Composition development is a creative process of artistic work invention from conception to perfection.

Starting an embroidery, one should remember that it is an applied art, and any embroidered item, whether it be a tablecloth, a blouse, or a panel, is a household article as well as a piece of art.

Thus, the size and fashion of the tablecloth, its color, and the pattern will depend on the size and shape, material and color of the table it is made for. The tablecloth will become a part of the interior, that is why it must be balanced with the other things in the room.

You should be aware of some of the main notions and means of composition in order to learn how to arrange a composition correctly.

They are rhythm, rapport order, symmetry, and others. All these notions in their turn are connected with the concept of ornament.

In Latin ornament means decoration. In ancient times ornament designed had a strongly marked symbolic meaning.

A straight horizontal line stood for the land surface, the horizontal wavy line stood for the water, a vertical wavy line symbolized rain, triangles meant mountains, crossed lined stood for fire and lightning, the Sun and the Moon radiant celestial bodies – were indicated by a circle, a square, or a rhombus.

A female character with a hand up or down represented the image of Earth Mother, connected with worshiping of the land and water.

Eastern Slavic goddess Bereginya, or Mokosh, was the patroness of water, household, hearth and home, and handiwork.

Branchy trees and frog images stood for fertile land; grass, flowers, bushes, and trees were called the hair of the Earth.

Out-runner of the Sun, warmth, and light, a symbol of happiness and joy was a bird that promised the incoming of spring, harvest, and wealth. A deer and horse represented live-giving aster the Sun and were believed to bring good fortune, jollity, and prosperity.

The rhombus was the main sign and it had many meanings. A smooth or spurred rhombus stood for the Sun and fire, as well as for fertility, revival.

A chain of rhombuses meant the Tree of Life. A rhombus with protruding sides represented the top of timberwork; a square divided into four parts with a circle or a dot in each meant a homestead and a sown field.

There were special ornaments for wedding garments and burial clothes, warrior clothing, farmers, and or household stuff, etc. Dishes, stoves, and furniture were covered with ornaments.

Every region had its traditional ornament patterns. It is easy to distinguish Russian patterns from Bashkir or Estonian ones.

Over time the figures changed, became more complicated, and were combined with other designs, creating image patterns. Now ornament has a purely decorative function.

Ornament is a pattern the elements of which follow a definite rhythm.

The part of the ornament that is completely repeated at a specific interval is called rapport, which means repetition.

According to the arrangement and the character of the composition, which is always closely related to the shape o the decorated item, ornament can be:

Ribbon straight or arched strip that decorates the middle of the item or frames it (frieze, border);

Netlike, where all the surface is covered with the pattern;

Centric, or rosette-like, where all the elements are inserted into a square, circle, rhombus, or multi-angular (rosette), located in the center of an item.

The following ornament designs are distinguished:
Geometric, consisting of several elements;
Meander – composed of broken lines, widely used in Ancient Greece and named after the river Meander;
Flower, or fito, composed of stylized flower, fruit, leaves and branch images;
Animal, with stylized figures of animals and insects;
Lettering-like (ligature), resembling lettering.


Designing a pattern is always related to symmetry that is typical for folk embroidery patterns. You can invent an ornament with one or several lines of symmetry.

The easiest type of symmetry (with one line) is a mirror reflection when the line divides an element into two identical parts.

Luda Sonkin
aHey embroidery designs

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