Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stitch story

Do you know Geneviève Liebaert?

If you know chenille stitch, then you should know her, because she is the
Chenille ropes
designer who invented this lovely technique. But I don't think that many of you do know her.

The 'Chenille spiral', which is the original name of this creation, is
a lovely design and the variations suggested by Geneviève in her little tutorial, recommending the use of other seed bead sizes and/or types, consequently are her designs. The frontier between technique and design are a bit unclear sometimes. And techniques can normally not be copyrighted - they can be protected if the process is really very complicated, with specific step-by-step intstructions... Where the level of complication lies or how many steps are necessary to make a technique eligible to be protected is a mystery...

Back in the days where 2 huge francophone fora were counting more than a thousand beaders connected every evening, sharing their tips, patterns and designs with fellow beaders for free, Geneviève was one of the best, most talented designers, admired under the name Sereine. She wrote her tutorials for all to use for free, but asked for credit and a little "thank you" on her blog. It was all for the love of beading. Free doesn't mean that there is no copyright. She didn't want her work to be used by shops to sell beads, but of course shops benefited massively from her inventiveness and patterns, because the number of seed bead weavers increased drastically during these days of beadevolution. However, not only did Sereine's work get used without credit or thanks, but some, when asked, pretended that the design was theirs, and some even sold her patterns in their shops. After many hopeless attempts to "educate" them a bit, Sereine stopped beading. That day, we lost a treasure of a designer in the battle of good against evil.

She took her tutorials away from her blog, but left them on the forum "Ile aux Perles". Sadly, that website got destroyed several years ago in a mega cyber attack on the American servers where it was hosted. Because there was no backup, years of knowledge and designs had gone in an instant.

Sereine's website and blog still exist, but are not updated anymore. There are very little tutorials written by her still visible on the Internet, and if it wasn't for those who saved a pattern and re-hosted it, like the one linked to above, there would be no trace of her work.

Chenille stitch, however, became very popular, and this thanks to Sara Spoltore, who mentions that she thought of it herself, but she credits Sereine (aka Geneviève), as the first inventor of it, which is class. But now, when people make a Chenille rope, it is the one who posted the latest video gone viral who is thanked...  Below is Sara's video.

For those who wonder, Chenille means caterpillar in French, but it is the result of a brilliant Belgian beady brain. If another beader had invented this rope in another corner of the world, this rope would probably not have kept the name it had initially been given, so somehow, there is a bit of legacy.

Beadwork made with
Albion Stitch
For that is what happens with techniques. They one day are invented by brilliant persons, become popular, and in the end the persons who developed it are forgotten... It lasts only as long as the names of the inventors are mentioned.

If the stitch isn't given the name of the inventor(s), only the name of the technique will be remembered, like peyote stitch, which is the name of the stitch created by Native Americans to create beautiful adornments for their celebrations involving the use of a cactus of the same name.

"Ndebele stitch" which is still used for herringbone stitch, reminds of the tribe where the stitch was invented initially, but this tends to be forgotten.

Beadwork made with
Hubble stitch
The origins of Right Angle Weave are forgotten. It seems to be attributed to
Africa, but I am inclined to think that it is originating from Asia, somewhere in China, seen that there are extremely old beadwoven soldier's coats made with bamboo beads in musea there, made with this stitch.

Zulu stitch and Pondo stitch still have the name of their native tribes in Africa. St. Petersburg stitch is clearly mentioning that it's origin is Russian.

For how long will people remember that Hubble stitch was created and
developed by Melanie de Miguel? That Albion stitch was invented by Heather Kingsley Heath? That Gerlinde Lenz created and developed "Rautenstich" (Diamond Weave)? Will people remember them as English, or European, or German? If I am not mistaking, Albion is an old name for the Island of England, so that might well help finding back its origin in the future... and only the future will tell. It is my wish that many will remember their names.

Beadwork made with Diamond Weave

And that is why I wanted to write this post: to honor all inventors of beading techniques which bring us so much creative joy, and to say


for your gift to planet bead.