Embroidery Young Lady Blowing on a Poppin is based upon a graphic print that shows a woman in a half-length portrait, turned to the left, blowing into a toy pipe. The artist Utamaro has succeeded in capturing subtle aspects of personality and fashion details of the lady, her face and limbs elegantly exaggerated. Sprinkled little cherry flower motifs on light pink checker-board design of the kimono and neatly dressed hair evoke a sense of youth, femininity and decency of a daughter from a prosperous family.
Japanese colour woodblock prints such as this one has had a profound impact on Western art of the late 19th century and influenced Art Nouveau, Impressionism and other avantgarde movements. No wonder that the Japanese popular art remains strong and influential. Parallels with ukiyo-e art can be drawn even with the anime and manga art of today.
Utilizing a wide variety of embroidery techniques, from the proprietary Ercigoj stitch to classic Chenille chain stitch and enhanced elements of regular embroidery techniques helped achieve an interesting contrast between the background and the chiselled Lady. Special thin embroidery threads were applied with great precision to create almost microscopic details of hair and contours.
About the artist
Kitagawa Utamaro has produced more than two thousand prints and has achieved national fame already during his lifetime. His sensuous beauties are considered the finest and most evocative in all of ukiyo-e genre. He portrayed the transient moods of women of all ages, classes and circumstances.
Ukiyo-e was a popular art form for the middle class from the 17th to the 19th century and originated in Edo (Tokyo). It depicted pop attractions of the day – from sumo wrestling and kabuki theatre, flora, fauna, scenes from history, geography and folk tales to erotic motifs and female beauty.
Innovation of layering
We layer multiple colours of threads and so create rich embroidery and colour texture that is impossible to create with classic one-layer embroidery technique. By layering, we develop colour transitions and shadowing, by which we create multiple-colour surfaces, similar to pointillism painting.
Smooth transitions and shading
By intertwining threads of endless colours and creating colour transitions, we can shape soft shadows, make one surface transition into another and mix colours into an endless multitude of hues. This way, we can also recreate motives from photographs and sophisticated art paintings which wouldn’t be possible with classic embroidery technique, using vector surfaces.
Sophisticated colour calibration
Usually in embroidery, 10 or 20, maybe 30 colours of threads are used. We use around 1,000 colour hues and if a colour still doesn’t match the desired one, we create it by layering and colour transitions. We have digitally scanned colours of all threads by using a spectrograph, so we can colour match any colour from an original material or from CMYK, RGB or Pantone colour schemes.