Bärbel's Story

Being crazy is the best thing in life!

From one who set out to learn embroidery ... and what has become of it

Since her childhood, BIZ has been quite intensively involved with all kinds of handwork. Inspired by an artistic home and a dedicated needlework teacher, she wanted to turn this into a profession after graduating from high school. Unfortunately she had to realize that in Germany the possibilities for this were rather limited and there were only a few alternatives: ecclesiastical or industrial embroidery. Or the art academy, where the accent is on design and not technique.

Especially embroidery fascinated BIZ from the beginning, and she was quite sad that the former art of embroidery is nowadays more or less reduced to cross stitch or tapestry work, and that information about the high art of embroidery is hard to come by. Later she learned that the "descent" from the recognized art of embroidery to a housewife's occupation widely condemned as a profane living room activity with a bad image was mainly due to the printed patterns of the Berlin wool embroideries. In the Middle Ages Germany was still a flourishing stronghold of professional embroidery - how times change.

BIZ then continued to work in her mother's little room and learned as much as she could from books. She used this in internships during her studies in social work in various social institutions and was able to clearly see the therapeutic effect that handwork can have.
After her studies, BIZ completed an apprenticeship at the hotel reception, acquired a commercial assistant's certificate in the field of logistics and worked for a long time in various areas of banking, airfreight logistics and personnel management.
But suddenly the "providence" has struck. It took 5 years to persuade BIZ to take a holiday in England...So sometimes persistence does pay off....in this case absolutely in her favour....In countless old stately homes in the southwest of the country, BIZ was once again confronted with the versatility of needlework after a long time.
A visit to "Montecute House" in Kent, which maintains an ongoing exhibition of historic and contemporary needlework and lace and had just then hosted a special exhibition of old samplers from school lessons of yesteryear, was the start of a new era....


Any lover of fine needlework knows what a treasure trove Britain is in this field - but this collection surpassed anything BIZ had come across before. And the name "Royal School of Needlework" kept coming up. After many fruitless questions, she figured out that if the school still existed, it would have to be in London. To this day it remains a mystery which little devil whispered in her ear, "that's your thing" - but he was right!
Some time later, BIZ travelled to London for a first interview - and came back with shining eyes and the prospect of a year of stitching, stitching, stitching and trying to get the money to pay for the classes. It seemed like a small miracle that, despite being nearly 40, she was able to find a part-time job after all and earn the cost of her Tuesday flights to England. For the rest, she had decided that her retirement savings and savings contracts would be better off in this school than in the bank. Life proved her right!

It all started in September 1994 - unaware of what she had really gotten herself into. Actually, BIZ "just" wanted to do something for herself and catapult herself out of the frustration of always being unemployed. For once, she wanted to do a further education that would "only" be of use to her, so that she wouldn't be upset afterwards when it didn't work out with a better and more permanent job... What followed was the most beautiful, exciting and exhausting year of her life up to that point. Fear of flying takes on a whole new meaning when the only way you can do something you care so much about is by flying to London every week.... Once a week in a former palace of Henry the VIII, completely immersed in the past and learning techniques, some of which BIZ had never heard of before.
All efforts were forgotten when BIZ looked at a new work or planned a new project. She worked in her class together with an English woman and a Japanese woman, in the parallel class there were 4 Japanese women and an Australian. BIZ has deepened her school knowledge of all the basic techniques of traditional needlework and, building on this, has attended further training weeks and weekends at the RSN.

There is so much to learn, then and now - every day anew!

History BIZ Completion

In September 1995, BIZ received her diploma in a formal ceremony at Christies auction house in London, a fitting end to such a valuable period.
Jane Lemon (sadly deceased in 2015), one of England's best known embroidery artists, once told BIZ in a wonderful conversation, "If you pay attention at the RSN, you'll have everything you need to know about needlework right on your hands. You can build everything on that". How right she was!
Already during the training BIZ had decided to pass on this knowledge in Germany to people who did not have the opportunity or are not as crazy as BIZ. With the International School for Textile Arts, founded by BIZ, she contributes a lot to make the art aspect of needlework accessible to a broad public again. All those who have taken the opportunity to visit the school at exhibitions or events, or who have had the courage to simply dive into the unknown profession and book a course, are as amazed at the diversity of textile design in needlework as BIZ was on her first visit to the Royal School of Needlework. And how delighted one is only to learn to recognise that age-old techniques can be beautifully adapted to our modern ideas of beauty and aesthetics. No matter whether one prefers to work abstractly or representationally.

BIZ wants to encourage young people in particular to learn a lot in this much too little noticed area and perhaps even to "stitch up" a professional opportunity. In order to make this possible for as many people as possible, BIZ has been developing documents for distance learning courses since 1998 and has already shown many stitchers around the world the way to their own creativity. This path is not easy and requires a fair amount of idealism, stamina and cheekiness in the most positive sense - but it is also very rewarding. Not necessarily from a material point of view...but needlework is not just a pastime, it is like meditation. A course participant (not a typo: it really was a man!) once put it in a nutshell: "Needlework is a senselessly beautiful thing." - thank you for this wonderful sentence!

And the need for beautiful, not materially measurable things is especially in our today's, in many aspects not easy time, enormously large and it is important to cover this need. Let the nice virus creative needlework inspire and infect - you will never regret it!

In addition to the school, there is also the area of the now world-famous Painters Threadswhich was also created by BIZ's creativity. Threads, fabrics, bits 'n pieces, nothing is safe from the dyeing joy of BIZ. She has developed a very special technique for painting textile materials, which make every product unique and create a whole new color feeling in textile projects. In the meantime, the collection has become an indispensable part of many shops, workshops and publications around the world.

The wide range of the collection has also allowed it to become a source for their students to draw from for the variety of materials available today, but often hard to find.
BIZ is looking forward to "positively infecting" many of you, so that soon there will be more crazies than sourpusses.


In this sense - see you soon!