Much of the joy of what I do as a decorator is being able to work with extraordinary artisans and craftspeople. From upholstery and curtain workrooms, to metal fabricators, to wood carvers, the level of creativity and skill is always astounding. One of my absolute favorite workrooms is Penn & Fletcher in Long Island City, New York.
Penn & Fletcher is an embroidery atelier founded in 1986. Most of their work is commissioned by interior designers such as Bunny Williams, Charlotte Moss, Ellie Cullman and the late Albert Hadley however they also apply their sewing techniques to costumes for the Rockettes, Broadway shows, opera, ballet and film. These techniques include applique, crewel, flat stitching, and ribbon work to name a few.
Interior designers in particular collaborate with Penn & Fletcher (Ernie, Alex and Evelyn) to create custom designed patterns and stitches for the most magnificent curtain borders, bed canopies, upholstery, pillows and the like. Inspiration for these patterns can be derived from just about anything. Their showroom is an endless array of samples, patterns, threads and inspiration. Much time and care is devoted to the research and development of each design.
Patterns are computer generated using proprietary software versions of Photoshop and Illustrator. They are then sent to the art department where the printed patterns are transferred to vellum using a perforating machine, fluorescent (cleanable) wax and black light.
The complex stitching is then done by either multi-head machines, hand-guided machines or simply by hand, depending on the type of stitches desired. The more intricate patterns can be produced using multiple techniques. Laser cutting is yet another process used for creating appliques.
Although very much made by hand by using centuries old processes, this embroidery is extremely technical and can also be done on elaborate state of the art machines. The result is always the same though - an extraordinary bespoke detail that will last for generations to come!