Every year, Hand & Lock organizes a competition for the prestigious Prize for Embroidery to promote the use of hand embroidery and to discover emerging embroidery talent. The 2019 brief, “Fool the Senses,” invited entrants to consider the texture and feel of embroidery. Projects focused on embellishments with sumptuous surfaces that intrigued and surprised as they to deceived, confused, and fooled the senses. Organizers encouraged artists to recycle and re-purpose old materials, re-imagining and transforming them into something new.
London’s Bishopsgate Institute hosted the final judging and award ceremony, showcasing 24 finalists’ masterpieces organized into four categories: textile works by students and textile works non-students, fashion by students and fashion by non-students. A separate display featured notable works pre-selected for associate awards by Hand & Lock’s partners.
Today we’ll meet the third-place winner in the Open Fashion category, Joanna Galica-Dorula.
Location: Poronin, Poland
Describe your Hand & Lock entry and the inspiration behind it:
My competition entry is a green cape made of velvet, decorated with embroidered poppy flowers combined with ornaments. The back of the coat is decorated with an embroidered image of a knight, a symbol of the hero defending our planet.
By making embroidery on velvet, I wanted to show how wonderful, and at the same time difficult to embroider, velvet fabric is. I combined everyday products … a plastic bottle, made into sequins, screw washers, wooden heels, beer caps … with embroidered elements. I was surprised by the end result myself.
Participation in the competition was a huge challenge for me and winning the third place is a great honor for me.
Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?
The competition design was embroidered at night. That year I had a lot of contracts that I had to work on at the same time. I also embroider and run a company on a daily basis. After completing my work on this project, I cried like a baby … hi hi hi!
When and how did you learn embroidery, and what impression did it make on you?
I learned embroidery from my mother, who is my master until today. There was always a needle and thread in the house, a hoop. Mom patiently showed me the first stitches. I enjoyed it so much.
I had a talent for drawing since I was a child, so designing my patterns and embroidering them was wonderful for me.
What was your first embroidery project?
Oh … I don’t remember the first embroideries. I started a lot of embroideries and then did not finish them, but I still have my first completed folk corset. I was about 13-14 years old.
Tell us about your background and how it led you to win the Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery.
I have been making my designs for over 10 years, these are the traditional wedding dresses for women. Individual-order projects. I live in Podhale, it is a region where the tradition of wearing a regional costume is still alive. We cannot imagine going to a wedding in a different outfit. When I found out about the Hand & Lock competition, I immediately felt the urge to take part in it. It was a challenge for me, facing a completely different type of outfit. I could play with both form and embroidery.
What’s been the biggest surprise of your career and the projects you’ve undertaken?
Undoubtedly, my greatest achievement is just reaching the group of finalists in the Hand & Lock competition. And getting 3rd place is a huge success. I am also the winner of the first prize in a competition organized in Poland by DMC “We inspire with color”.
And on a daily basis, when I see a client in a designed and embroidered dress by me … it is always a distinction for me that I have been trusted and entrusted with embroidery on the dress for one of the most important days of the bride.
My job in The Funk Files is to interview “pioneers on the embroidery frontier.” That’s you! What is the embroidery frontier, and what does it mean to be a pioneer here?
Thank you … I’m intimidated. I’m very pleased. Embroidery has no limits. Embroidering is creativity. Sometimes the idea is one thing and something completely different comes out from under the needle … there are so many embroidery techniques that can be combined.
Until recently, I was embroidering only with threads, now in my studio I use beads more and more … and I like it more and more.
What projects are on the horizon for you?
I work more and more with the technique of embroidery with beads. This is new to me, but it makes me happy. I would also like to learn more about embroidery with a gold thread, and embroidery.
Currently, I create patterns for hair bands in cooperation with Petite Maison. It’s an interesting collaboration. The first effects are coming soon.
Where else can we see your work?
My website is still under construction, but my Instagram and Fb profile are still active:
What one piece of advice would you offer someone looking to expand his/her embroidery skills?
It’s worth starting with small projects, learning about stitches. Slowly perfect technique. After that, embroidering is just fun. Patience is very important, take it slowly towards the goal!
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
If you could embroider with just one color thread for the next three years, what would it be? Green
What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? Embroidered rose
You must include something live in your next garment. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? Fresh flowers. In the first stage, live flowers, which wither and completely change their original form.
If you were not an artist, what would you be? An athlete, preferably an ultramarathon runner
A place you’d like to visit: Tuscany, Italy
A celebrity wears one of your garments to an awards show, and you receive fame, fortune, good health, fitness, and cake for life. Who is the celebrity and what does s/he wear? Penelope Cruz in a beautiful long embroidered dress
We’re hosting a show of “performance embroidery.” Describe your piece in the event. An element of such an event could be the “music of the needles.” Women embroidering, many embroiderers in the great hall. Each stroke of the thread on a tightly stretched fabric creates a “shuffle” connected, synchronized …
Thank you, Joanna. Your embroidery is exquisite!