Pearls and Golden Twists
“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths, it has its pearls too.”Vincent Van Gogh
An exquisite air of the technique, rooted in the 16th century - the traditional needlework found in Olonets, Novgorod and also in some southern regions of Russia. The patterns remind the filigree of bobbin lace - the motifs of "frozen" twists and curls, flower buds and twigs.
The name of the embroidery technique refers to the process of a “white laid work" made with white cotton or linen cords, couched by metalized or the same colour threads, constructing the base for stitching the pearls onto.
The imagery is quite simple but significant: the pagan heritage is mixed with Christianity symbols, Solar-centrism, the symbol of the Cross, the Tree of Life, Mother’s womb and family, seeds which give growth to the new generations.
Pearls and mother of pearl were typical elements used for embroidery decoration since medieval times. The rives and lakes in ancient Russia were rich in molluscs such as Unionidae and Margaritifera. The shells of these molluscs, even today are used for beads and sequins making, serve as the material for pearl buttons, while the tender flesh hides the gemstone, used for embroidery and jewellery making.
The pearl industry in Russia, in comparison with India and China, seemed huge and, the volume of pearl production and trading to the European countries was extremely huge. In some regions of the so-called "Pearl stream" (Terijoki), the Volga, Lake Onega and the Baltic sea, even peasants could afford to wear pearl beaded jewellery or embroider clothes with freshwater pearls.
Artisans did not use the stones of a regular shape - which were in demand and for sale. Own clothes they embellished with the uneven, "potato-shaped" and "rice-shaped" beads. In the design, they appeared quite inventive too, creating the embroidery technique, which at that moment appeared rather "sustainable", as we would call it today.
The pearl beads were set on a high relief made of thick cotton/linen cords (usually white). These cords were sewn to the fabric with metallic threads or thin cotton threads, forming the curls of the design. The reverse side of the embroidery was stabilized with a special sort of self-made glue, "cooked" of starch and flour. After drying, the "stabilizer" made the embroidery firm and possible to cut out. Such decorative elements were sewn onto various clothes and reused. The name "Sazhenie" is derived from the process of "laid work" and thread "couching". When a constructed base is "crowned" with pearl beads, laid side-by-side. This embroidery method can be combined with goldwork embroidery, bead weaving and silk embroidery.