The Origin Of Our Hand Beading & Embroidery

Hand bead work and embroidery is one of the most meticulous crafts that we use at EAST. For this reason many of the products that embody these art forms are priced at the higher end of the scale to acknowledge the skill and dedication that goes into their creation. Our design team in London develop a design based on the expertise of the producer we partner with. Many of our producers are based in India and the hand work is carried out by local women based in rural villages. The work we help to provide offers these women a great way of earning money and they can stay at home with their families, instead of having to leave to work in city factories.

The Technique Behind Hand Beading & Embroidery

Hand beading and embroidery is always done by skilled artisans who are ‘forever training' as there are always new designs, new skills, and improved speed on which the artists are measured. The first step in both beading and embroidery involves carefully tracing the design onto tracing paper which in India is called ‘Khaka'. This serves as a blue print which is then transformed onto the actual fabric by punching tiny pinholes onto the outline of the design. These tiny pinholes are then printed using a special solution that seeps through the holes so that the hand beader or embroiderer has a clear outline to follow. They often sit on the floor with the paper design in front of them which they meticulously follow ensuring that the correct colour of thread, type of beads and sequins are used to create the agreed design. Once completed each piece is washed to remove any traces of the print and then checked to ensure it meets a high quality.  There are many traditional types of hand embroidery and beadwork that our Artisans are masters of.

Tambour Beadwork

Many of the hand beading we use in our designs use a traditional method called ‘tambour'. This involves using very fine hooks to crochet into the fabric while attaching beads, sequins, crystals and so on.

Hand Sequinning

Zardozi Embroidery

Chikkan Embroidery

For this the fabric is stretched over a wooden frame and each panel of the garment is individually crafted with two craftsmen passing the needle between them above and below the frame attaching beadwork and sequins. This style of embroidery can only be done by master craftsmen, it is never delegated to juniors or apprentices because of the level of skill required.

Zardozi is an old Mughal technique which uses tiny individual coils of wire which need to be picked up by hand and sewn down onto the fabric. This embroidery is the same technique that you can see on traditional military jackets.

Chikkan embroidery or shadow work originally came from Persia and was bought to India by the Mughals. Traditionally from the area in and around Lucknow it is a hand technique mainly done by women in their own homes and an important source of additional income. The effects are achieved by using different weights of thread and stitches on fine cotton or silk. It is a very time consuming technique often worked in reverse and one piece may take several days to complete.

The beauty of any handcrafted product lies in its irregularities. In the case of hand beading and hand embroidery, these irregularities are a reflection of each craftsman's style, making each piece unique and individual.