Last week I drove from Richmond to Lexington, Kentucky to attend the University of Kentucky School of Costume and Design class in tambour bead embroidery, an ancient technique that is almost an extinct art form. Today it is taught almost exclusively at Ecole Lesage in Paris, an haute couture embroidery school that teaches day classes and professional classes in many forms of embroidery, including the above, which was worked with a tambour hook. A tambour hook is a needle sharp, tiny crochet-like hook that is used to work chain stitch on the reverse of the piece (stretched taut in a slate frame), utilizing a glorious array of threads, sequins, beads and fabrics to create dazzling purses, dresses and other garments. The photo above is a bead and sequined flower in progress, worked in such a way that it is three dimensional.
My class piece in progress, above. Black bugle beads, gold and purple sequins, lame and gold seed beads are worked in slow progress with the tiny tambour hook.
Wracked with nerves at first, I have my organza stitched onto and stretched across the frame before calming down to begin the learning process of holding the hook properly (over and over and over again!) so that it does not snag either the delicate fabric or thread as it pierces and loops a chain. Here I have almost all flower outlines complete, day two of the class.
Our utterly charming and incredibly talented instructor, Bob Haven.
The costume design classroom at University of Kentucky School of Fine Arts, hard at work on our projects.
Fine Arts Building where our class was held. Now that my love of this technique is confirmed, I can't wait to become more proficient with the hook, finish my class project and move on to other works of art. Lesage, here I come! (someday....)