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EMBROIDERIES OF INDIA / MIRROR WORK / USES
MIRROR WORK
Mirror Usage and Placement

• Mirrors are used to accentuate the bright designs of the embroidery.

• Not all mirrors used in this style of embroidery are created equal.

• When mirrors are used, they are not restricted to a circular shape. Mirrors are available in round, square, triangular or polygonal varieties.

• They can be used to create a specific component of a literal design or merely as a point of interest in an otherwise abstract geometrical pattern. Either way, the reflective quality gives an almost three-dimensional look to an otherwise flat design.

• The mirrors are placed in holes that have been cut to shape in the fabric. They are then held in place by a set of structural stitching that is covered over by the visible and more elaborate embroidery stitches.

• Shisha embroidery is used on both clothing and decorative works. The mirrors are only rarely randomly scattered about a cloth. Instead, they are positioned symbolically and used in figural embroidery as the center of flowers, eyes, ears and other aspects.

• Shisha embroidery is also used curtains and hangings, which are placed over doorways and other liminal spaces. This also is meant to deter evil spirits in traditional belief.

• Clothing featuring shisha embroidery has mirrors placed on the head, breasts, belly, apron section and hems and seams. This placement signifies protection of the wearer from evil spirits.

• Indeed, not all reflective additions used in embroidery are even mirrors. Sometimes shiny minerals such as mica or hand blown glass are substituted. Sequins and other shiny man-made embellishments can also be used.

Stitches

• As with most needle crafts, there are many types of stitches used in mirror work embroidery. The majority should be familiar to those skilled in needlework.

• The stitches used can include chain stitch, detached chain stitch and herringbone stitch. In some pieces, experienced embroiderers will also spot stem stitch, satin stitch and blanket stitch around the mirrors.