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At a quiet corner of the 798 Art Zone, where most people don't notice, is an embroidery studio owned by Ms. Zhu Shouzhen. It would not have been a quiet corner, had people passing there known what fantastic embroidery works they could find in the shop.
The embroidery works on display were done by Ms. Zhu and her students. They come in four different types: original embroidery work, embroidery painting, portrait embroidery and embroidered cloth like curtains, sheets and tablecloth.
One piece that immediate caught my attention featured a girl with long blond hair, the needlework of which was so delicate that I could even count the number of hairs. Another piece that featured a girl was a huge one, 10 x 5 feet in size, and took Ms. Zhu and her students many years to complete.
Portrait embroidery was what made this shop unique. Highlighting this uniqueness were a portrait of Elizabeth II, a portrait of Pabol Picasso, and many other portraits of foreign dignitaries. In fact, Ms. Zhu was asked by these foreign dignitaries to make portraits for themselves. They include the president of Ireland and the president of Kazakhstan. The portrait of Pabol Picasso won Ms. Zhu a 3rd prize in the 26th World Art Festival in Britain.
Born in Suzhou, Ms. Zhun learned embroidery since her childhood, and combined her embroidery techniques with those of the western art in making her embroidery work. In the past 20 years, she has won numerous awards at home and abroad.
I checked out a bundle of silk thread used for embroidery before I left. One of Ms. Zhu's students told me that a piece of such beautiful silk thread could be divided into 256 threads. And in total 10,000 colors of silk thread are used in their embroidery. What an amazing art!
Ms. Zhu takes custom orders. You can send your photos to have your own embroidery portrait done. Prices for embroidery works range from several thousand to one million yuan.
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