Making of: Miao Tin Gimp Embroidery, China
Words by Sharon Tsang-de Lyster, Video by Great Big Story
The river Qingshuijiang, which runs through Jianhe from lake Dongtinghu to river Changjiang, contributes to the region’s prosperity by way of shipping and commerce. The costumes of Miao people in Jianhe, adorned with tin gimp embroidery on glassy indigo, reflect their wealth and cultured aesthetic. They are remarkably sophisticated in their skills, as seen by their easy ability to stitch back side up using no marked pattern for metal gimp embroidery and coloured satin stitch fill.
Anchoring and ground fill:
1. To anchor gimp, stitch pattern with dark thread on unmarked white cotton is done with the back side up.
2. Braid groups of fringes for gimp.
3. Dye the embroidered cloth in indigo.
4. Satin stitch between anchoring pattern.
Metal gimp decoration:
5. Cut tin foil into strips, with sharp and pointed ends. Fold the tail end.
6. Weave the tin strip through the anchoring stitch until it catches the tail end. Cut off the strip and press the gimp to secure.
7. Create gimp embroidered borders by picking only the warp yarns.
After a long tradition, the heritage craft is disappearing. Long Nv San Jiu featured in the video, a fourth-generation tin embroiderer, says she hopes to teach others this fine craft before it is lost to history forever.