Two weeks ago, my husband and I visited the Handwerksfest in Seefeld in Tirol, Austria. I mainly wanted to go as there should have been a gold embroiderer. Unfortunately, the weather was really bad and not all artisans were present. So, no gold embroiderer. But I did see a Federkiel-embroiderer and the even more ancient craft it replaced. Something I had never seen before. I have written about Federkielstickerei before, so do check out that blog post. Let's have a look at my new discoveries!
First up is Federkielstickerei Seiringer. This is a small family business where both the father and the son are embroiderers. They were happy for me to take pictures and shoot some video footage. And I was able to ask some questions about the embroidery technique. Here you see Herr Seiringer work on a small piece of embroidery. The leather piece is fastened into an ingenious contraption that lets the embroiderer work with as straight a back and neck as possible.
In this short video, you can see how the embroiderer makes a small hole with an awl in the leather and then feeds the stripped peacock feather through the hole. How this stripped peacock feather "yarn" gets produced exactly, is a trade secret. But I did ask how he prevented the strip from twisting during stitching. Herr Seiringer explained that the way he places his awl determines how the stripped peacock feather lies. That's pretty cool, don't you think?
Next up, we met Wilfried Weiss. He picked up tiny little pieces of metal with tweezers and positioned them onto a leather belt. We were fascinated by his work, and he started to talk a bit about his craft: the making of Zinnstiftranzen. To prevent the underbelly from getting hurt by a bayonet, knife or bullet, the men in the Alpine regions of Bavaria, Tyrol and Slovenia wore these thick, broad leather belts decorated with tin tacks. These belts first appeared in the late 17th-century and the designs became more elaborate as time went on. Alas, many belts were destroyed during the Napoleonic wars (1803-1815) when the metal was used for bullets. The technique completely vanished from memory and Federkielstickerei took over. Wilfried Weiss re-discovered the technique and now produces his own tin tacks to make the designs with. The design gets copied onto the leather belt and each hole of the design gets pricked. Then the tin tack gets put into the hole with the help of tweezers. The head of the tack stays visible on the front of the belt and forms the design. The 'leg' of the tack sticks out on the back and gets bent over so the tack is secured. Do check out Wilfried's website to see some beautiful examples of this lost art!
I will be demonstrating gold embroidery and selling my embroideries at the Leonhardimarkt in Geitau from 3-11-17 until 5-11-17! This fair is organised by 'Fazination Handwerk' at the beautiful old farm 'Hasenöhrlhof'. Besides me, there will be bobbin lace making, tailoring, weaving, porcelain painting, gold- & silver smiting, woodturning, carpet making, wood carving, (book) restauration, shoemaking, millenary, wax working, reverse glass painting, passementerie, painting, knife making, watchmaking, leather working, chocolate making, lebkuchen baking and federkiel embroidery. Now, there is a good chance you have never read or heard the word Federkielstickerei before. Let me explain...
Federkielstickerei uses feather quills to embroider on leather. The tail feathers of a peacock are split to produce a workable 'thread'. The leather is prepared by using an awl to prick the holes (just like the hole drilling before you can embroider on eggs). Federkielstickerei is an old craft which requires a lot of skill. A Lederhosen (traditional leather breeches) decorated with this type of embroidery has been and still is of great value and seen as a status symbol. Another common sight with traditional men's clothing in the Alpine regions of Germany, Austria and Italy is the Kraxen or broad belt.
Below is a charming short video featuring Georg Leitner, one of the last men earning his living with this ancient form of embroidery:
Hope you enjoyed this blog post and I would love to meet you at the Leonhardimarkt early November :)!
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