Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ricamo Estense

I'm still in the mood for colourful embroideries today. I want to show you some Ricamo Estense or Estense Embroidery from Ferrara, Italy. Just to give you a bit of historical background, Ferrara was ruled by the Este family for a number of years with particular prosperity and patronage of the arts during the Renaissance. Graffito (also known as Sgraffito) ceramics from this period and area were amazingly detailed and breathtakingly beautiful.

In 2007 I translated an Italian needlework book about embroideries which had been inspired by the Graffito ceramics of Ferrara. You can read a great review of Estense Embroidery from the Ferrarese Graffito Ceramics at Mary Corbet's blog: Needle 'n Thread.

In 2009 I went to visit the author, Elisabetta Holzer Spinelli at her home in Ferrara and met Manuela Barattini, the potter who's work inspires Ricamo Estense. Here is Manuela with a plate after firing and before:

Manuela also participated in the exhibit for the reprinting of Disegni per Merletti e Ricami demonstrating that the antique patterns could be used for other design mediums. This piece is modeled after a Paganino design:

Elisabetta herself also participated in the exhibit with these two borders done in Ricamo Estense:

Since the 2007 printing of her book, Elisabetta has been anything but idle. If possible, she has created embroideries more beautiful than before.

Elisabetta likes to hunt through antique needlework books and revive old forgotten stitches. She is especially talented with colour and stitch combinations giving depth to her embroideries.

Right now Elisabetta is in Dobbiaco in the Southern Tyrol region of Italy teaching a Ricamo Estense course. I can't show you the project they are stitching but I can tell you it's amazing. What I wouldn't give to be at that class right now!


  1. ...mi piace tanto il tuo blog: è un'autentica enciclopedia del ricamo italiano. sei una miniera di informazioni. grazie :-)!

  2. Grazie!!
    Spero tanto di scrivere bene ma spero soprattutto che se non, qualcuna mi corregga!

  3. oohhh

    i love the plates and i love the picture of the girl.