Battle against embroidery machine

embroidery plan project HAND@WORK, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

Although I’m not very fond of competition and battles, I’m really pleased to participate in the latest project HAND@WORK of multi media artist Pauline Nijenhuis. In this project she investigates what makes the difference between an artwork embroidered by men or by machine. It questions if we, in this time of growing digitization and robotization, still appreciate handwork.

To get an answer to her question Pauline asked 4 other Dutch textile artists to collaborate in the project. All artists embroider the same design made by Pauline, in the same way. Meanwhile the embroidery machine at the TextileLab in Tilburg ( will also embroider Pauline’s design.

detail, embroidery plan project HAND@WORK, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

I’m already looking forward to see the results and find answers. Right now I mainly have many questions. Like:

– will there be a difference between the “handwriting” of the machine and the artists? and if so, how will it look like?

– and will there be a difference between the handwriting of the 5 artists? If so, how significant will the differences be?

– and when the embroidered works will be exhibited… how will the public valuate the works made by hand in relation to the work embroidered by the machine?

As you can see at the moment I’m mainly thinking … I’ d better start embroidering the work! In the months to come the answers will appear…. I’ ll keep you posted.

back side of embroidered plan, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy by Pauline Nijenhuis

Other participating artists in HAND@WORK are Marjolein Burbank (, Tessa van Helden ( and Hinke Schreuders ( They are all artists who make inspiring works of art, using embroidery in a contemporary way. Take a look at their websites for examples of their works.

Want to know more?

Then take a look at Pauline’s website:

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And remember… have fun and enjoy creativity!

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  1. What difference in how you get the end result ? If you prick your finger and leave a “blood offering” does it mean more to the viewer? We all spend hours at it, whether we do each stitch my hand and hoop or by plotting each stitch into the computer, right? Is pointilistik painting better than abstract? If it conveys an emotion its “art” if not , well then its graphics. ??

    1. Dear Bruce,
      Thank you for your reaction, you insert some interesting questions. As far as I’m concerned this project is not about the difference between art and design. It’s more about valuation in relation to the factor time and human versus non-human conditions. Besides that I think design creates emotions too.

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