The gold embroidery workshop was created in 2002 with the blessing from the Convent’s spiritual father, Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok. Ever since its launch, the workshops’ craftsmen have been making pieces of great beauty and magnificence: church vestments, liturgical sets, shrouds, banners, covers and bookmarks for the Gospel.
The art of church embroidery arrived from Byzantium approximately during the 10th century. The content and themes of this art form are determined by the fact that its adoption coincided with the installation of Christianity in the Kievan Rus. The development of gold embroidery was supplemented by several other related art forms, such as ornamental and pictorial embroidery, which decorated liturgical vestments and other worship items.
The reason for the practice of gold embroidery at the Convent was clear and obvious: we responded to the growing need emerging from the building of multiple new churches.
The hands of the monastic and lay sisters create liturgical items of great beauty and unique magnificence. But embroidery is more than just decoration; its details - the ornament, the artistic style, the lines and the colour combinations - all convey deep symbolic meanings.
In making our liturgical and worship items, we use only natural materials of good quality. The essential supplies for ornamental embroidery are gold and silver threads, pearls, semi-precious stones, gold-coated plaques, gold and silver ribbons, and twisted thread. For pictorial embroidery techniques - used in iconography - we use natural silk threads of different colours.
At the start of the process, the Convent's artists and designers make line drawings of the ornaments and images of the would-be icon. The actual product is made in a variety of techniques - old Russian, Greek, Serbian and contemporary, which we spend a lot of time exploring, studying and mastering. One of the workshop’s most important products is the mitre.
The process of making a mitre is difficult and time-consuming. It requires a lot of concentration and incessant prayer.
In the beginning, we use the embroidery hoop to embroider wedges and other details. The laces are made by the hand of gold threads. The workpiece is made of cheesecloth with the aid of woodblocks of different sizes. Afterwards, the embroidered details are pulled carefully over the workpiece, making sure that no wrinkles or folds form in the process, and that the design is fully aligned, making one complete whole. The mitre is assembled and decorated by hand, and all details are sewn on, without using a single drop of glue.
The work of the workshop’s skilful artists is keeping alive the age-old techniques and traditions in the workshop’s fine products which impress the spectator with their magnificence and beauty.
Father Sergius Nezhbort, who is a priest of our Convent and the head of our Icon Painting Studio, is our guest today. We are going to talk with him about how he became an icon painter; how the studio grew and developed.