Hungarian Sampler Part Four: witchy stitching from Buzsak

It has taken WAY too long for me to get back to this sampler, but better late than never (I hope)! If you look at the rest of the blog you can see a little bit of what I’ve been doing… But it’s time to end the hiatus!

From the village of Buzsak, right near Balaton, come some stunning, though at this moment in time not as well-known styles of handwork made with amazingly varied techniques. There are three main techniques used, each with its own set of rules, stitches, and motifs. I’ve shown you some of it before but here are some more examples – the somewhat geometric “vezas” embroidery:

Buzsak embroidery in the "vezas" style

Applique work where complex patterns are all cut from one continuous cloth:

Applique work from Buzsak

This particular style of applique is what Mariska Karasz used in some of her fashion design work in the 1920s and 1930s, like the jacket I’d written about before:

Karasz Mariska jacket design

And the “witchy” (boszorkanyos) style that, like the Transsylvanian embroidery we used in our sampler, evolved from noblewomen’s embroidery:

Witchy embroidery from Buzsak

Here’s a closer look on another example of witchy embroidery, this time on a black background:

Witchy embroidery from Buzsak

I took these photos in Buzsak, where a lovely exhibition is mounted with lots of gorgeous examples of all three styles of handwork.

In our sampler, we will stitch a motif in the “witchy” style, based on a collection of Buzsak motifs compiled by the Hungarian folk artist Ferenc Dolbert. Here’s our motif minus the stitching:

Witchy motif from Buzsak in Hungarian Sampler blouse

Now, before you even THINK of getting intimidated by how beautiful the original examples from the museum were, I want to reassure you that the two main stitches used in this particular style are not difficult. But that is the brilliance of folk embroidery: a couple of easy-to-learn stitches can grow into complex, beautiful designs imagined by the people who began using them. Using just one or two stitches can be quite liberating. I don’t mean to say Buzsak embroidery is simple – in all three styles, more types of stitches and techniques are used than in most other places put together! But this particular motif, in the witchy style, uses just two.

We will split this part of the sampler into two parts, first making the outlines with a pretty open chain stitch, like so:

Hungarian Sampler - Buzsak witchy motif

Then continuing in another post with filling in the outlines and embroidering the tulip’s stamina. (How funny that that’s what those the pollen thingies at the centers of flowers are called, no? Maybe it’s just me – I love it!) So, let’s get started!

For these stitches, you will begin your stitches slightly to one side of the line marking your motif, just a hair to the outside:

boszorkanyos

Then, you stitch back down a hair to the OTHER side of the line, directly opposite from where you brought your needle up the first time. And, you will stick your needle through to bring it up again on the FIRST side of the line, 1-2 mm or 1/16-1/10 of an inch ahead:

boszorkanyos

Now catch your thread with the needle:

boszorkanyos

And pull your needle through to make a loop but don’t pull the thread taut:

boszorkanyos

Now stick your needle down (uh, this is not official embroidery terminology… but I find it to be rather descriptive of what needs to be done) a hair to the other side of the line, opposite where the thread came out, in the other “corner” of the loop:

boszorkanyos

Now bring it out again on the first side of the line, 1-2 mm or 1/16-1/10 of an inch ahead, and catch the thread with the needle, as before:

boszorkanyos

Now pull the needle through to make a loop but don’t make it taut:

boszorkanyos

 

Rinse, and repeat:

boszorkanyos

Keep going like this, covering the outlines with open chain stitches. At sharp corners, I put an anchor stitch at the tip:

boszorkanyos

 

boszorkanyos

Then restart the chain stitching on the side of the previous stitch:

boszorkanyos

 

Now keep going…:

boszorkanyos

…until you’ve covered all outlines. Start stitching new lines that branch off from other lines right next to the first line, or even from right inside a stitch of the first line. You can see how I did it in the image below – it’s not the canonical way to do it, I just like the way it looks. So here’s what you’ll end up with – I’m putting the image from the top of the post here as well so you don’t have to scroll all the way back up:

Hungarian Sampler - Buzsak witchy motif

The only things left uncovered are the stamina of the little tulip at the top left of the motif. The stamen of a flower is nearly always emphasized in Hungarian embroidery so we’ll do something a little different here, but we’ll leave it for next time. Along with filling in the outlines you’ve just created! Some more stitches are coming your way…

 

Links to tutorial pages:

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2 Responses to Hungarian Sampler Part Four: witchy stitching from Buzsak

  1. Your pictures and instructions are great, I can’t wait to get started, but I have so much sewing to do. I’m planning on tackling the sampler over christmas break.

  2. kata says:

    Jennifer, I can so relate to not having enough time… whenever you’re ready, I’ll look forward to seeing what you make with this!

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