C Sisson – Contemporary textile Artist

For many stitchers the 60’s was a time in which Contemporary embroidery practice broke free of the traditional rules and application. The use of unusual and textured yarns worked on a large scale in an abstract manner was well established by the 70’s. By the end of the century much of the scale had been pulled into control with, in many instances embroiderer’s making a return to the miniature. You can see these recent historical influences in the work of C Sisson who presents some of the work she has done over the last 30 years.

C Sisson is an American contemporary embroiderer who loves the inspiration and textures found in the deserts in the Southwest. You can find hints of everything from rattlesnake skins and fossils, to Carlos Casteneda. Highly textured embroidery pieces are displayed in her gallery pages accompanied by a detailed description of concept, size, materials and techniques, including the stitches she has employed.

Unfortunately C Sisson has not provided dates when each piece was worked but my guess, confirmed in an email, was that much of the work on C Sisson’s site were either worked in the 70’s and 80’s or heavily influenced by that period.

This type of work should be collected by our arts institutions. It was a period when contemporary embroidery really shifted away from the domestic to becoming a language speaking about ideas. To my knowledge apart from some of the larger design museums and the embroiderers’ guild, little of this type of embroidery is collected. The majority hangs in peoples homes which is unfortunate for this type of work reflects the time and concerns of the late twentieth century.

These concerns are not only with the limits of thread on fabric, but with our relationship to the environment. Embroiderer’s who were interested in the idea behind the design stopped embroidering floral motifs on domestic items and looked to their environment for inspiration. In this period the land and its textures became a common theme at the same time society was becoming concerned with damage we were doing to our environment. These trends can all be seen in the work of C Sisson.

Tambour Work:

Every so often someone who has visited my Stitch Collection sends me an email with a query about Tambour work. Tambour embroidery is a type of chain stitch worked with a fine hook. Originating in Persia and India where the hook is known as ‘ari’ it is a form of embroidery that now hides under a number of terms and names. As a stitch in the West it is sometimes known as Beauvais stitch. As a form of embroidery it is now found in historical collections throughout Europe and a number of craft traditions have developed using the technique.

However when this type of embroidery is worked on a very fine cotton background to produce a tamboured net lace fabric it is known as English Tambour hook Lace, Lace from Lier, Lierse Kant, Coggeshall, or Limerick Lace. As such it is related to whitework embroidery.

All are worked in a similar manner on a hoop under tension, manipulating the thread with a crochet like hook. You have to use a fine relatively loose weave fabric such as muslin, stretched on a frame or hoop in order to manipulate the hook.

To identify tambour embroidery examine the back of the embroidery. Chain stitch that is done with a hook has a continuous thread without any joins whereas, chain stitch done with a needle, will display separate stitches.