Tapestry Art – Is It Still A Thing?

I was introduced to tapestry art back in primary school when we had to do a needlework project. I remember I could not get all the stitches to go the same way and my neighbour who was brilliant at embroidery had to help me a lot.

Years later, I have a better understanding on how to do tapestry art, but time is something I wish I had more of so that I could do more of these types of projects, as they are so rewarding, and there are so many beautiful pictures available to complete.

Tapestry art is not as popular now as it was back in the ’70s and ’80s. I remember everyone had a tapestry or two hanging in their houses back then. Also many people knew how to do tapestry art back then, and now I only know a handful who would even try.

But there are always the die hards in any hobby so I had to do an article on tapestry within this blog.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase something, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you the purchaser.

What Is Tapestry Art?

tapestry artTapestry Art is a form of textile art, and it was traditionally woven by hand on a loom.

Tapestry is weft-faced weaving, in which all the warp threads are hidden in the completed work, unlike most woven textiles, where both the warp and the weft threads may be visible.

In tapestry weaving, weft yarns are typically discontinuous; the artisan interlaces each coloured weft back and forth in its own small pattern area. It is a plain weft-faced weave having weft threads of different colours worked over portions of the warp to form the design.

To find out more about weft and warp read this article.

Tapestry History

The early history of tapestry is very unclear, as actual survivals of tapestry art are very rare to find.

Literary mentions in Greek, Roman and other literature almost never give enough detail to establish that a tapestry technique is being described.

From ancient Egypt, tapestry weave pieces using linen were found in the tombs of both Thutmose IV (d. 1391 or 1388 BC) and Tutankhamen (c. 1323 BC), the latter on a glove and a robe.

Pieces in wool, given a wide range of dates around two millennia ago, have been found in a cemetery at Sanpul (Shampula) and other sites near Khotan in the Tarim Basin.

They appear to have been made in a variety of places, including the Hellenistic world.

The largest fragments, known as the Sampul tapestry and probably Hellenistic in origin, apparently came from a large wall-hanging, but had been reused to make a pair of trousers.

Tapestry is relatively fragile, and quite difficult and time consuming to make, so most historical pieces are intended to hang vertically on a wall (or sometimes in tents), or sometimes horizontally over a piece of furniture such as a table or bed.

Some periods made smaller pieces, often long and narrow and used as borders for other textiles. European tapestries are normally made to be seen only from one side, and often have a plain lining added onto the back.

However, other traditions, such as Chinese and that of Pre-Columbian Peru, made tapestry to be seen from both sides.

Most weavers use a natural warp thread, such as wool, linen or cotton. The weft threads are usually wool or cotton but may include silk, gold, silver, or other alternatives.

Tapestry should be distinguished from the different technique of embroidery, although large pieces of embroidery with images are sometimes loosely called “tapestry”, as with the famous Bayeux Tapestry, which is in fact embroidered.

From the Middle Ages on European tapestries could be very large, with images containing dozens of figures. They were often made in sets, so that a whole room could be hung full of them.

More tapestry history can be found here for those interested.

How To Do Tapestry Art

Here is a beginners guide to Tapestry Art from this needle pointe expert.

Examples Of Beautiful Tapestries Available Online

Simply click on the pictures to find out more about how you can get your own. These kits normally come with everything you need to make the tapestry, including the yarn. The first two are ready made.

The two above are ready made on fabric for you to use as decor.

The tapestry art below is for you to do yourself.

This pillow is great for beginners.

This one is done with beads sewn into the embroidery.

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