June 6, 2007

Featured Book: Treasures of Kalocsa

Here is a guest post from Sharon - safischer1 on Flickr. She volunteered a post at the perfect time since our Wednesday blogger is on vacation! Thanks Sharon!

Treasures of Kalocsa

I’ve been looking for a book on Hungarian embroidery (in English) for some time and while Treasures of Kalocsa is not strictly about embroidery, but rather the variety of folk art from this region of eastern Hungary, embroidery certainly figures prominently.

While I have yet to read it cover to cover, I’m pleased that my mom agreed to give this rather pricey ($77 including shipping from Hungary) volume to me as a birthday gift. At least half of the book is devoted to background on the area, the role and development of the folk arts (focused on embroidery and decorative painting). The author Kati Fejer takes you on a tour of the town and profiles the “women and one man” who are involved in continuing this tradition and keeping it current. Some aspects are a bit scholarly and are enhanced if the reader has some knowledge about the history and politics that impact the area.

The book is generously illustrated with full color photographs of gorgeous examples of regional embroidery on clothing, household and religious items in a wider range of styles and color schemes than I was previously aware of, from white on white cutwork and Madeira to riotously colored flat stitched pieces. While there are some drawings and stitch diagrams in the hand embroidery section, I found it to be more of a source of inspiration than a how-to manual. The section on Kalocsa “machine embroidery” (which has NOTHING to do with fancy new-fangled machines and computerized templates) does provide step by step instructions for a unique style which uses a straight stitch machine to create lace like creations in combination with hand embroidery.

Hi, I'm floresita, editor of Feeling Stitchy. I'm an avid stitcher, knitter, and crafter. You can see more of my stitching on Instagram and my blog. My vintage transfer collection is on Vintage Transfer Finds.

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  1. Hello Sharon and Feeling Stitchy readers!

    I am delighted to have come across this blog, I am always on the lookout for great embroidery blogs. I am the owner of Folkology, the online shop of hungarian crafty goods where Sharon bought the book on Kalocsa embroidery. If any of you have questions regarding the book or Kalocsa (or other Hungarian) embroideries, I would be happy to help out!

    Greetings from Budapest,

  2. Thanks Katalin - we were happy to post this review - the designs on your site and in this book are truly extraordinary! :)

  3. Katalin--
    I was recently in Budapest and bought a large Kalocsa lace table runner. I bought it from a nice woman that was selling in an open air market in the Castle District. The piece had been hanging in the open air for quite some time and is rather dirty from the street dust. What is the best way to clean these beautiful pieces?

  4. Hello! I think this one will have to me on my birthday list as well! My aunt lived in Kalocsa for many years, and I went to visit her as a young child in '69 and '70. Some day I'll go back and visit again.

    Ted, my mom used to hand wash the pieces in Zero, or some other soap meant for delicates, in lukewarm water, gently rinse them, and then would "wring" them out by laying them on a folded (lightly colored) towel and rolling the towel up to remove the excess water. Lay them flat to dry on another clean towel.