Robert Glenn Ketchum

Graceful Branch Movement, March 2010

Double-sided hand embroidery

How to express the different layers in the original work was a major challenge for the preparation of this work. In traditional Suzhou embroidery, only five to six gradient levels of the same color are usually required. However, because the original picture comprised so many layers with different shades and densities, we had to create as many as 10 to 20 different gradient levels for some colors.

With its vivid and exquisite combinations of the real and the virtual, the dynamic and the static, this was a very difficult work to embroider. It combines the modern and bright aesthetics of the West with the cultural characteristics of Chinese taste. In particular, its differing color gradients and intensities within layers of the same pattern, and its different renderings of solidity or emptiness, recall the “flying white” in Chinese calligraphic art and are replete with an unstudied beauty. Preparing such an embroidery posed a series of difficulties and challenges, but through our methodical selection of embroidery threads of different thicknesses, our combination of colored threads of different color levels, and our arrangement of different thicknesses and densities of embroidery threads, we were able to apply the unique transitions inherent in the silk itself to display this creative work to greatest advantage.

New stitches were created with more than 500 different embroidery-thread colors: Xushizhen [solid- and broken-line] stitches; santaozhen variable-length satin stitches; gunzhen [rolling] stitches.

This embroidery required 18 months to complete.

74.8 x 25.5 inches. (190 x 65 cm)

Principle Embroider: Zhang Meifang. Assistant Embroider: Zhao Lixia

© Robert Glenn Ketchum
Tags: Silk Embroidery, SERI, Zhang Meifang, Zhao Lixia, Graceful Branch Movement