Chinese Artisanal work at it's best.

Discussion in 'The Haberdashery' started by scottish steve, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. I was unsure which forum to put this in, since we don't have a Decorative Arts one, but I thought since there is a general thread on The Haberdashery about how awful Chinese-made products are, I might as well put it here. I have a female friend who suggested we go and look at some embroidery on the holiday today. Not a usual activity for a Western man I'm sure you'll agree, but I'd seen some very nice pieces in the more touristy sections of the city and thought "Why not?" I was unprepared for the level of artistry involved and had an eye-opening day out, spending several hours simply going from one workshop to the next in a marathon viewing. I hope it is obvious these pictures, taken quickly and sometimes without the shop-owners' permission, can in no way capture the beauty of these works of art. The girl with the blue shroud is a close-up of a 1.5ft square part of a larger piece, which is stunning. And I did NOT manage to capture the best few, as they were in a shop in which I felt it would have been rude to take out a camera. The works below were on average about 2 by 3 ft, but there are others 8ft wide.
    I hope you enjoy and if anyone wants a full-res version to make a print, send me a PM and I'll email you a copy of the full file.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  2. This is embroidery?! Honestly, I'm blown away. I had no idea that this type of craft even existed. Thanks for sharing.
  3. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    I'm from New Jersey, the embroidery capital of the world. There's even a sign near the Lincoln Tunnel that says so.

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  4. Steve, that's some amazing art and your pictures are wonderful. I would love a copy if you'd email me the same.
  5. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    I was born in the wrong country.
  6. I'll do it now OH. Not perfect by any means, but there's enough for a decent print. I think you'll be ok up to 14 inches on the long side.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  7. Because Americans have no artistic talent? Or because we try to pay people what they are worth? While those works shown by SS are undeniably striking, let's ask how much you would pay for each example, and how much of that goes to the artisan.
    The Chinese have an incredible history regarding craftsman ship and art,and that should be separated from the slave labor and gadget industry that supports t-shirts and shoe sales here in the states.
  8. Well that didn't take very long at all.
  9. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    You obviously have me confused with someone who is interested in anything other than the chicks.
  10. There were some very detailed nudes but I felt wrong taking a photograph of them as I was with two girls.
    The thing about this visit is I was actually in the showrooms of the artists themselves, talking to the people who made them, or their business partners. I will be going back to one shop to buy a small piece of the same quality as these larger ones, done by the same woman who did the snowy scene. I talked to her and shared her joy in her talent. It was a very pleasant experience. So you can buy direct from the artist at the price they set without guilt. But I also saw works being crated up to go to the showrooms od Beijing etc. An hour's drive saves you a lot of money as Suzhou is a major tourist city and millions of Chinese people come for the famed silk and jade. Then the price leaps when it gets to Shangahi or Beijing, then leaps exponentially when it hits a London or New york showroom. It was a grand day out, no question. I bought one piece, perfect macro not done yet, so no posting, for 100 RMB, or $15, which my Chinese friend reckoned would be three or four times that much in Suzhou, maybe ten times or more in The UK. Once I had paid the money (after some obligatory haggling) I was taken back to see the masterworks and a small crowd gathered to see my reaction. Everyone was very happy and proud to hear my opinions of such skill and the one Chinese man who had been nominated translator shared my impressions with the artists.
    These take a phenomenal amount of work and it is indeed a shame that the producers are almost certainly not getting paid enough. Tonight I sent several of these pictures to the email of the shop which had them after spending 30 mins telling the owner that she must get online and get her work well-photographed so she can cut out the middle man. She appeared a bit sketchy about this whole internet thing, but hopefully she'll have a nephew or somebody who can set her up.
  11. :applause::oops:
    See, I was getting worked up over nothing but the yellow fever.
    So you don't like American women??!! JK

    Point being, Nowhere do you find the artists name or mark on their works (unless cleverly woven in cryptically) Whereas in civilized western civilization that would almost certainly be there, either by signature, or by mark or crest in more mass produced items.
    As Scottish Steve pointed out, he can get an item for 15 bucks that takes days(??) to produce, so an accomplished artist, or artisan (there is a difference) might possibly make a dollar an hour, that is if the entire sale went to that individual, which it is not.
    The only thing that keeps them going is the pride in their work, which is extraordinary.
  12. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Golly, you're right ...
    ... no signature.


    Brent, if you want to be upset that the 'middleman' gets most of the profits when the art is sold in London, go right ahead. You want the artist to be paid more for her time? Hey, that's a world-wide problem including in the Good Ol' U S of A ... artists selling their work for "what the market will bear", and taking well below "minimum wage" for their work (if you want to do a strict 'hours spent painting vs. sale price of the painting' analysis.)

    The purpose of this thread, however, is to allow Steve to remind us that the Chinese are just as capable as any others (and more capable than many) of producing extremely high quality works of art (or other goods, for that matter) when they turn their minds to it ... the vast ocean of "Made In China" crap-o-la that has flooded Walmart and everywhere else notwithstanding.
  13. That's exactly what it was, thank you.
    I realise there is a lot of bitterness and even despair among many people in The West. It's cropping up all over the internet. My friends back home have been affected also and are going through hard times too. One member of another forum wished to "...bomb them back to the Stone Age". These sentiments are surely unworthy of one of the most civilised and intelligent forums on the internet today? (i.e. available in English to anyone in the world with a server. I think there's a responsibility that goes with that).
    I just wanted the opportunity to show something beautiful.
  14. And thank you Steve, for that. They are beautiful. They take a lot of work and effort. They don't necessarily even have to turn their minds to it even, as it is part of their culture.
    But let me just throw this out here for discussion: Is it better to underpay for an artisanal work done by craftsmen, or to underpay for a dozen Hanes t-shirts made by 12 year olds? I'm personally happy SS handed over as directly as he could his cash to the craftsmen that made the piece. We all know there is some overhead involved. I would think a larger portion of that money gets to the workers.
    But look at the behavior directly related to this thread. First, some photos were taken without permission from the owners of the establishment. Second, people are already taking advantage of the situation by benefiting from free imagery.
    So we have already diminished the products value to free status, so the artist does not benefit at all from the transaction.
    By the way, this is not a "starving artist" by the western definition, as in someone who has chosen the lifestyle because maybe they do not want to live in the confines of our financial system. These are people who trudge along their whole life on this course with no choice in the matter.
    Anyway, I know it's all pretty heavy, and I apologize for that. I just think it needs to be said that people need to be compensated as fairly as possible for their work. I'm not taking a personal dig at anybody (except where I misunderstood something) just stating a world view.
  15. "They don't necessarily even have to turn their minds to it even, as it is part of their culture"

    Posts like this make me despair. For an encore are you going to say "[X] race is better suited to fieldwork than us white folks"?

    "These are people who trudge along their whole life on this course with no choice in the matter."

    I am trying to keep this post civilised, so I can only hope that the many objections to this statement are clear to members without the need to type them.


    It appears that my attempt at combining "China" with "positive experience of quality products" is too great a leap for some.

    It's saddening.
  16. Wow. Some of the posts in this thread are close to the "bitter, bigoted, and unnecessary generalization" line.

    I did not get the sense from the OP that what Scottish Steve posted needed a "Bu--but they're Communist and oppressed and democracy rules!" rebuttal.

    Jeez people. Appreciate the art for once and leave the rest out.
  17. Some nice work there. Can you give us an idea of prices? I'll be visiting China for the first time later this year and some of these pieces look like things I'd like to have on my walls.
  18. This is one of the ugliest threads I have ever seen here. China's competitive advantage in all sorts of manufacturing, both skilled and unskilled, has led to a number of qualitative benefits in consumer goods for Americans at all income levels. Anyone over the age of 35 can attest to that. The beautiful embroidery on display here, is a great example. It isn't my taste, but thank you for posting it.
  19. Hi
    The starting price for these large ones was $500. I'd imagine you could get a discount if you haggle. Some work was not hagglable- the Snowy Scene had a set price, I think $1,500 but I can't remember- this was the girl I was speaking to that I will be revisiting to buy a smaller, but exquisite piece picturing two finches on a sapling. That was about 6 by 8 inches and $50, no discount. It's best to take along a Chinese friend with you- prices halve then. A good rule of thumb is that unless you're thinking "Wow, this is a fantastic deal" you shouldn't buy it. But don't try that on the Tibetans- they generally don't haggle, though their prices and work is generally more than reasonable.
    Where are you going in China?
  20. Know what? I made a mistake here and made some dumb assumptions. So I apologize to all concerned, especially Scottish Steve for crapping in his thread. I'm not going to delete anything, just let it stand.
    Let this be a lesson to those that step out of their lane.
    Football cleats, stomping, my Johnson.
    Brent Jackson.

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