Bärbel's Story

Being crazy is the most beautiful thing in life!

From one who set out to learn to stitch...
and what became of it

History-BIZ-First day of school

Since her childhood, BIZ has been very intensively involved with all kinds of manual work. Stimulated by an artistic family and a dedicated handicrafts teacher, she wanted to make a career out of it after graduating from high school.

Unfortunately, however, 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 school, where the emphasis is on design and not technique.

Embroidery in particular has fascinated BIZ from the start, and she was quite sad that the former art of embroidery is now more or less reduced to cross-stitch or tapestry work and it is difficult to get information about the high art of embroidery.

She later found out that the “decline” from the recognized art of embroidery to housewifery, which was widely decried as a profane living room activity with a bad image, was mainly due to the printed templates of Berlin Wool Work. In the Middle Ages, Germany was still a thriving stronghold of professional embroidery – how times change.

BIZ then continued to work in mother’s room and got as much knowledge as possible from books. She used this in internships during her studies in social affairs in various social institutions and was able to clearly see the therapeutic effect manual work can have.

After graduating, BIZ completed an apprenticeship at the hotel reception, obtained a degree as a forwarding agent and worked for a long time in various areas of banking, logistics and personnel management.

But suddenly “providence” struck. It took 5 years to persuade BIZ to take a vacation in England…So sometimes persistence does pay off….in this case absolutely in BIZ’s favor….In countless old stately homes in the southwest of the country, BIZ was once again confronted with the versatility of needlework.

A visit to the Montecute House in Kent, which maintains a running exhibition of historical and contemporary embroidery and lace and has just hosted a special exhibition of old school samplers from yesteryear, was the beginning of a new era…


Embroidery - international and always alive

Any lover of fine needlework knows what a treasure trove Britain is in this area – but this collection surpassed anything BIZ had seen before.

And again and again the name “Royal School of Needlework” appeared. After many fruitless questions, she found 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 it was right!

Sometime later, BIZ traveled to London for a first meeting – and came back with bright eyes and the prospect of a year of mainly stitching away time. It seemed like a small miracle to her that, despite her almost 40 years, she was able to find a part-time job again and thus be able to earn the costs for the Tuesday flights to England. For the rest, she’d decided her retirement plans and savings plans would be better off at this school than at the bank. Life has proven her right!

It all started in September 1994 – not knowing what she had really got herself into. Actually, BIZ “only” wanted to do something for herself and catapult herself out of the frustration of being unemployed again and again. Do some further training for once, which would be of some use to only her and therefore could not annoy her afterwards, if it didn’t work out with a better and permanent job or a higher salary…

What followed was the best, most exciting and most exhausting year of her life up to that point. Fear of flying takes on a whole new meaning when just a weekly flight to London allows you to do something you love…. Once a week immerse yourself in the past in a former palace of Henry VIII and learn techniques, some of which BIZ had never heard of.

All efforts were forgotten when BIZ considered a new work or planned a new one. She worked in her class together with an English and a Japanese woman, in the parallel class there were 4 Japanese women and an Australian woman. BIZ has deepened her school knowledge of all the basic techniques of traditional embroidery and, based on this, completed further training weeks and weekends at the RSN.

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

History BIZ degree

In September 1995, BIZ received her diploma in a ceremony at Christie’s London auction house, a fitting end to such a valuable time.

Jane Lemon (sadly passed away in 2015), one of the most famous English embroidery artists, once said in a wonderful conversation to BIZ: “If you pay close attention at the RSN, you will have everything you need to know about hand embroidery in your luggage. You can build anything on that.” How right she was!

Even during the training, BIZ decided to pass this knowledge on to people in Germany who didn’t have the opportunity or weren’t as crazy as BIZ. With the International School for Textile Arts founded by BIZ, she is doing a lot to make the craftsmanship aspect of embroidery accessible to the general public again.

Everyone who has taken the opportunity to visit the school at exhibitions or events, or had the courage to simply immerse themselves in the unknown profession and book a course, is as amazed at the diversity of textile design in the field of embroidery as BIZ was at her first visit to the Royal School of Needlework.

What a joy it is when you realize that ancient techniques can be beautifully adapted to our modern ideas of beauty and aesthetics. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer to work abstractly or figuratively.

BIZ wants to encourage young people in particular to learn a lot in this area, which has received far too little attention, and perhaps even “stitch up” a career opportunity in the process. In order to make this possible for as many people as possible, BIZ has been developing documents for correspondence courses since 1998 and has thus shown many embroiderers worldwide the way to their own creativity.

This path is not easy and requires a good portion of idealism, perseverance and cheek in the most positive sense – but it is also very rewarding. Not necessarily from a material point of view…but embroidery is not just a pastime, embroidery is like meditation. A course participant (no typo: it really was a man!) once put it in a nutshell: “Embroidery is something pointlessly beautiful” – thank you for this wonderful sentence!

The need for something beautiful that is not materially measurable is enormous, especially in today’s time, which is not easy in many respects, and it is important to meet this need. Let the nice virus inspire and infect you with creative embroidery – you will never regret it!

In addition to the school, there is also the area of the now world-famous Painters Threads , which also arose from BIZ’s creativity. Threads, fabrics, bits ‘n pieces, nothing is safe from BIZ’s joy of dyeing.

She has developed a very special technique for painting textile materials, which makes each product unique and creates a completely new sense of color in textile projects. In the meantime, the collection has become an integral part of many shops, workshops and publications around the world.

Through the breadth of the collection, BIZ has also made it a resource for its students to draw from the variety of materials available today that are often hard to find.

BIZ looks forward to “positively infecting” many of you, so that soon there will be more crazy people than grouches.


That being said, see you soon!