A Sunday Read: Tambour History

Picture of Kelly Stein

Kelly Stein

Tambour of water in viscose ombre threads by @takingtimewithtasha

You’re here because you’re just as captivated by embroidery as we are! It’s a thrilling, refined craft that has bewitched artisans for ages, and one style stands out – tambour embroidery! Tambour embroidery isn’t just a technique, it’s a mesmerizing journey through history! Born in the 18th century and nurtured in the heart of France, it quickly became the talk of the town among the aristocracy, a true testament to its enduring allure. And the name “tambour”? It’s French for “drum”, a cool nod to the rhythmic method used to weave those intricate stitches!

LES Intermediate Tambour Online Class

Tambour embroidery is a fascinating tradition that borrowed inspiration from the Chinese chain stitch and Indian Ari work! Ari embroidery, with its roots in Gujarat, India, has been beautifully crafted by communities like the Rabaris and Ahirs for centuries. Gujarat’s vibrant cultural heritage is wonderfully showcased in Ari embroidery’s lively color palettes, mirror work, and geometric patterns. Can you believe the artistry often showcases the traditional motifs of Gujarat, like peacocks, flowers, and nature-inspired motifs? But hold on, the journey doesn’t stop there! The French embroiderers took it further in 18th and 19th century transforming tambour embroidery into an art of unmatched elegance and precision. They introduced specialized tools and refined techniques to create delicate, complex designs. Tambour embroidery is now renowned for its intricate floral patterns, lace-like designs, and beadwork – it’s like a feast for the eyes! The use of metallic threads, sequins, and beads adds to the sheer opulence of this embroidery style.

Tambour is a game-changer that has shaped the course of needlework throughout Europe. From Irish crochet lace to Swiss beadwork and British lace, all were sparked by this craftsmanship. Even the Industrial Revolution couldn’t extinguish its flame, thanks to the perseverance of committed artisans. Guess what? It’s making a comeback! Traditional crafts and embroidery techniques are back in the spotlight, with tambour embroidery leading the charge. Innovative designers are now fusing this adaptable technique into avant-garde designs and textile art, intertwining age-old motifs with fresh experimentation.

Are you ready to dive into the captivating world of tambour embroidery! Your primary sidekick? The tambour hook needle. It’s got this neat, rounded tip for a silky-smooth stitching experience. And don’t forget your trusty hoop or tambour embroidery frame! It’s there to keep your fabric taut and tension even, making each stitch a breeze. But the real magic? It’s all in your choice of threads, beads, sequins, and embellishments. These will transform your designs into vibrant, living art!

Tambour Hook and Handle with Cotton thread and sequins on a wooden beading tray

If you’re inspired to learn tambour embroidery, we have a wonderful selection of online classes and resources waiting for you, customized for your skill level. Our expert teachers are eager to share their tricks of the trade, offering detailed instructions and strategies to help you become a master at this beautiful art form. The best part? The online classes are self-paced! You can learn at your own speed and have the freedom to revisit any section whenever you want. Let’s start this exciting Tambour journey together!

LES Intermediate Tambour Online Class

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