Embellishing · Embroidery · Fibre · Thread Painting

A Shisha Experiment

Shisha (the Hindi word for “little glass”) embroidery is also known as mirror-work or abla embroidery. Originally, pieces of mica were used as the mirrors, but later, thin blown-glass pieces were broken and used. The work originated in the province of Kutch, where the people were nomadic and they used this beautiful work to decorate tent sides and door ways. I love the sparkle the mirrors add to the work and the intense colours used in the fabric and threads

For my sample I chose to use hand dyed felt and recycled strips of sari silk and rummaged around in my thread boxes for bright threads of different weights. I wanted to create a sumptuous almost luxurious feel to what is a small piece of work. I have used shisha mirrors that are about the size of a £1 coin, I added the button just because I love it.

Running stitches, French knots and detached chain stitches are used to create the star bursts around each of the mirrors.


Shisha is a sumptuous decoration and embellishment of fabric and to embellished the piece a bit more I added a little button and some woven spiders. Choose of colour is important; vibrant bright colours are essential, pale colours wouldn’t make the piece sing out in the same way.


This little piece is just an experiment for things I want to do in the future.


By layering pieces of bright blanket felt onto a base and embellishing it using my machine and then layering it some more with sari silk ribbons also attached using the embellishing machine, I am creating a rich background onto which I add very simple stitches.

Watch out for more work like this in the future, I have lots of brightly coloured ideas swimming about in my head.


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