Thursday, 24 October 2013

Stitch with Your Heart

Time and time again, Kusano-senei, implored us to stitch with our hearts. This was not a new concept to us.

Nuido is the name for the form of Japanese embroidery taught under the auspices of the Japanese Embroidery Center in Atlanta. The word Nuido is made up of two parts; Nui is the Japanese word for embroidery (also known as shishu), and Do refers to the acquisition of technical skills and knowledge. Do also refers to the development of the spiritual components of the art of Nuido. We are taught that Nuido has three aspects:
  • Rationality - the acquisition of technical skills and knowledge
  • Sensitivity - the development of artistic sensitivity and awareness
  • Spirituality - understanding the spiritual aspects of shishu
I can see how this relates to the St Francis of Assisi quote:
  • He who works with his hands is a labourer. (Rationality)
  • He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. (Sensitivity)
  • He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. (Spirituality)
I have done needlework from an early age. At first I learned by following the instructions in kits or designs printed in magazines. I was working mainly with my hands. In 2005, when I began to learn Japanese embroidery I was very aware that I was stitching with my hands and my head, I had to really concentrate on learning how to handle the silk and the various techniques. The first time I was consciously aware of stitching with my heart was while stitching Flutterbies for my parents Golden Wedding Anniversary. Now, whenever I sit down at my frame, the whole of me is present: my hands; my head; my heart. If my heart is not in it, I stop and come back to it another time. I still consider embroidery to be my hobby, something I do for pleasure and relaxation, but I have also come to think of my embroidery as my art, something I put my heart and soul into.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

The hands are the exit of the spirit
- Iwao Saito, late master of Kurenia Kia embroidery center
Happy Stitching