The Italian blog Elisabetta Ricami a Mano draws an international following for its splendid examples of hand embroidery. Many readers who visit–enchanted by the extraordinary ability of its talented founder–linger to experience the bliss of her journey with a needle and thread.
For needle artist Elisabetta Sforza, of San Bonifacio, Italy, childhood strolls through the ancient byways of Assisi led to creative expression. Women sat outdoors then, she recalls, embellishing linens with mythological figures rendered in powder blue or rusty brown. Captivated by this style of cross-stitch, the 7-year-old was also taken with the camaraderie among the villagers as they worked.
Soon thereafter, she attended a course on handwork under the tutelage of an instructor whose joyful spirit and kindly manners became inextricably linked to the craft in the youngster’s mind. Needlework remained Elisabetta’s cherished pastime for decades but became a serious pursuit when she had children. Today, her online journal, which she writes from home, offers an opportunity to share her passion for ricami a mano (hand embroidery) with a global audience.
Custom monograms–whether depicted with traditional padded letters or with modern floral interpretations–are a mainstay of the artist’s commissioned designs. For her garden-inspired initials, trailing vines bloom with a profusion of bullion roses and other exquisitely conceived blossoms.
Intricate botanical reproductions draw the eye with their realism. Technically, the pattern develop from a series of long and short stitches laid in sequential rows, like brushstrokes–a method referred to in Italian as punto pittura (stitch painting). The secret of such nuanced replicas, Elisabetta explains, is choosing the right palette. Graduating from pastel, sun-kissed colors to darker hues, she blends embroidery floss to form softly shaded petals that appear true to life. Above: When creating her amazingly precise likenesses of flowers, the needle artist often uses photographs to determine the most appropriate coloration.
For more on Elisabetta Sforza’s needlework, see “Harmony Among the Stitches,” in the July/August 2015 issue of Victoria magazine.