Magazine September 2019

We are looking to both the past and the future

Ercigoj Art

The company Ercigoj was founded in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1923. Even then, the family company focused on embroidery, producing embroidered pontifical robes, church banners and flags. The purchase of the first hand-guided embroidery machine paved the way for the further development of the company.

After the Second World War, the focus was on embroidering flags and banners for fire brigades and other organizations. In the 1960s and 1970s in particular, these fields experienced a real boom.
The company was modernized even further in 1980. It not only replaced the mechanical embroidery machines with computer-controlled machines, but also started developing its own “large-format” embroidery machines.

The know-how obtained over the years and the focus on achieving the highest quality was passed on from generation to generation in the family company. This was how the art of embroidery was perfected over the last 15 years. The company has also developed new embroidery techniques, which enable unique embroidered pieces of art to be created.

The works of art

Photographs or paintings act as model for the embroidered works of art. To this end, the studio works with a variety of painters, photographers and other artists. Including Steve McCurry, photographer for the National Geographic.
A piece of embroidery alone can often reach a size of 2 x 1.5 meters. Millions of individual stitches are required for this, which are carried out over hundreds of work hours, with the highest precision and with a unique technique.
Many of the works of art are individual pieces or produced as limited editions. A number of pieces have already been on show in galleries in Ljubljana, Miami and Cologne, as well as in the National Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana.

Work of art: “A Dog’s Life"

Images: 152x133 cm; embroidered wooden bench: 180x42x42 cm; number of stitches: approx. 30 million; yarn length: approx. 360 km; yarn colors: approx. 250; preparation and completion: 6,000 work hours

Work of art: Embroidered fronts of beehives

Different motifs from various artists; size: 32x14 cm each; stitches per motif: approx. 150,000

The embroidery process

Each individual embroidered work of art requires careful planning. The biggest challenge when embroidering such large motives lies in the fact that the material pulls together significantly, meaning that it is difficult to position the individual stitches precisely. To overcome these problems, Ercigoj Art has developed its own techniques and software solutions which can produce embroidery work of any size with perfect results. The number of individual stitches can also be increased from between 20,000 and 200,000 with a traditional embroidery motif, to several million stitches. This is the only way to create realistic, photo-like images, where each stitch is precisely where it should be.

Close-up of an embroidery work, on the right top you can see an embroidery needle and a part of the machine

The unique character

With the traditional embroidery method using chain stitch, warm and matt structures can be created, which reflect light in all directions. But this conventional embroidery technique is not sufficient for some embroidery work. To create 3D effects, Ercigoj Art has modified and perfected its flat embroidery technique so that areas with different height structures can be created. The embroidering direction is based on the surface of the desired motif – such as clothing, faces or eyes.

The final details of the works of art are often added by hand. This is the only way to guarantee absolute precision when creating hair, for example.

Work of art "Old man"

Embroidered with innovative 3D technology; original photo by Arne Hodalic(photo); size: 146x188 cm, number of stitches: approx. 5.8 million; yarn length: approx. 70 km; yarn colors: 29; preparation and completion: 1,300 work hours

The color selection

A myriad of color nuances and shadings are required to make the motifs as realistic as possible. While around 10–15 different yarn colors are used in a normal piece of embroidery, replicating a photo or painting requires many more. Because the color selection for embroidery yarns is limited, however, Ercigoj Art stitches several layers of yarn one above the other to achieve the required color shades. This multi-layer technique also enables color transitions and shadings to be portrayed realistically.

But even this technique has its limits. This is why yarns of different colors are also woven together to create practically any color shade, any possible shading and any conceivable color transition. To enable work to be carried out as precisely as possible, the colors of all available embroidery yarns are initially scanned digitally with a spectrograph (over 1,000 different color shades). These are then matched to the colors on the original work of art.

The portfolio

The area of activity of Ercigoj Art not only includes replicating photographs and paintings, but also embroidery work for the high-fashion segment or unique furnishings. The sophisticated embroidery technique is also suitable for exclusive embroidery work in vehicle interiors. And there are practically no limits to creativity.

Would you like to find more? Take a look at the Ercigoj Art online gallery or admire the works of art in person – details of exhibition locations are available on the company website.

The SAN® 10 XS special application needle from Groz-Beckert is now even more gentle on the material. Thanks to its slim geometry, material damage can now also be avoided practically completely, even on extremely sensitive materials such as fine and extremely fine knitted, warp knitted and woven fabrics.

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