Maria Frolova - master of embroidery, works in the technique of filigree embroidery. Has been involved into this art since 1995, has been participating in exhibitions since 2001.
How it all began
I was taught the art of embroidery by my grandmother, I’ve never had any books or manuals on it. In the past all Russian women embroidered, did their best to adorn their routine life, and my grandmother was very hardworking, always busy with something, embroidered valances, towels, decorations. Lots of her threads, including pre-revolutionary production, have been passed to me as inheritance. There were sets of threads of equal length, braided in plaits - very convenient not to tear every time this thread but just pull it out. The colours they had were persistent and intense, those are hard to find now. I felt sorry to part with these threads, so I decided to try to remember everything I had ever learned in my childhood.
A mixture of styles
My personal technique is based on three principles. First, it is eclectic - a mixture of styles, different types of stitches for each case. The basis for it is a folk technique - Msterskya embroidery, which overlaps with other elements. Both traditions and novelties are organically linked with one another, the works involve silk painting and different types of stitches and seams: satin stitch, whitework, Vladimir stitch, French knot, all kinds of stalk joints, horizontal seam, buttonhole stitch, Rococo style, openwork, cutwork and more. Frames and fittings are carefully selected for each unique thing – I try to ensure that they are organically combined with each other.
Another feature is the small size of my works, I generally prefer miniature. In miniature embroidery the result, of course, is also difficult to see immediately, yet it is relatively fast compared to large paintings. People often ask how much time is spent on the production of one item. This question is difficult to answer because it depends on many factors: size, composition, story, lighting, mood – but usually no longer than a week. Quite often I embroider several things simultaneously. To perform the parts which are especially thin I have to split the thread into several ones. On average I devote to embroidery from four to eight hours a day.
The third principle of my embroidery is no preliminary sketch. It is like drawing with a needle, there is no outline, and as a result no two works are completely the same. Even if you want to repeat something that seems good, the embroidery will not be absolutely identical to the previous one. Some thread remains in the needle, and I start to embroider something with this thread without yet imagining a specific outcome – such a flight of creativity. And only in the process it becomes clear what this product will be like, what resources will be needed - I embroider as I feel.
The subject of my work is mostly plant motifs, various floral ornaments. It is very interesting to implement this technique in scenes with birds, butterflies and animals. I have embroidered different landscapes, I love to embroider churches, for example, the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl – usually the size of the work does not exceed 30 square centimeters.
I give workshops on embroidery, but these are for particularly patient students – you have to sit for a few hours before only a general outline begins to appear. Most people, especially children, rarely have the patience to bring the work to completion. In some types of arts and crafts, such as pottery or birch bark weaving, the results are visible fairly soon, but the embroidery is not one of those. Therefore, those who would like to take a class in filigree embroidery need to have enough patience.
I have noticed one interesting thing: embroidery shouldn’t be done in a bad mood. I want everyone who takes embroidered things in their hands to feel a positive charge which the master has put into it along with a piece of their soul.