A Year of Appliqué

A Year of Appliqué

Maria Magdalena Tziná during the appliqué workshop in Santiago Atitlán

Creativity is a toolbox, and artists can always add more tools. It’s a refrain repeated often in our creative workshops. This summer marks one year since Multicolores’ four groups of embroidery artists added another tool to their impressive creative toolbox: appliqué. 

Needle turn appliqué is a technique for stitching layers of fabric together, hiding the raw edges with near-invisible stitches along the edge of the shape. To teach this new technique, I visited each community so that each group could participate in a workshop together with all its members.

“Your embroidery is like using a fine-tip marker,” I told the embroiderers before we began stitching. “Appliqué will allow you to paint with a wide brush.” 

And paint they did! Appliqué has allowed them to add depth, texture, and dimension to their work, complementing the fine detail of their embroidered stitches. Artists source secondhand clothing to use in their appliqué, favoring finely woven, lightweight cotton garments. For the faces and hands of their embroidered portraits, they use naturally dyed cloth colored with a range of materials, including avocado. 

Thelma Cubur appliqued bold shapes to contrast with her delicate stitches
Ramona Garcia used coral plaid to evoke the painted colonial buildings of Antigua
Elvira Cubur chose brown fabrics with different patterns to add texture

Here are more examples of the artists’ fine appliqué on embroidered portraits: 

Very fine shapes like thumbs are challenging to create— the result of lots of patience, practice, and attention to detail! Portrait by Micaela Yaj
An innovative blend by Ramona Garcia: flat appliqué on the women’s hands and faces, with hand-pleated appliqué in their cortes (skirts)
Marina Juracán creatively used plaid fabric to evoke the wool rodillera worn by men from Sololá


We can’t wait to see how the artists’ creations evolve as they master this new tool! Stay tuned- embroidered artwork is coming to our online shop in early autumn 2020.

–Maddy Kreider Carlson, Creative Director

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