Tetyana Protcheva: a Japaneese man was constantly wearing a tie embroidered by me

Tetyana Protcheva: a Japaneese man was constantly wearing a tie embroidered by me
April 4, 2009 18:07

Tetyana Protcheva is known by her manually embroidered ties, bow-ties and men’s handkerchiefs for tail-coats. Accessories to business suits made in traditional colors attract not only young people but high officials as well. Besides, due to the master’s needle and thread the map of Ukraine exists not only on paper but embroidered on fabric as well.

You presented a map of Ukraine embroidered with your own hand in the Ukrainian Culture fund in March. What did inspire you for its creation?

There was an image exhibition in Japan in 2005; 136 countries took part in it and the exhibition lasted for half a year. I conducted master classes in our Ukrainian hall; I showed Ukrainian culture through small embroidered postcards, ornaments; was telling people about our country. And in this process of communication I understood that Japanese didn’t even know where on the map Ukraine was located and they were able to find it only after I told them it was located close to Russia. It was very unpleasant for me… The following year when I was taking part in exhibitions in Scotland the visitors there were also curious to know what Ukraine was… All they knew about was Chornobyl. It was very sad. So that was how the idea about the map came to my mind…

The embroidered map of Ukraine. Tetyana Protcheva

The embroidered map of Ukraine. Tetyana Protcheva

I wanted the map to have an esthetic artistic appearance and to be precisely correct in part of the information. So I went to the cartography institute to their chief engineer… He also said he understood the problem and he heard that a lot of foreigners did not know where on the map Ukraine was located. The chief engineer supported my idea and presented a paper map to me so I later embroidered it on fabric at the scale of 1: 2,5 million. It is a size suitable for transportation.

I was born in Kyiv, so ornaments in red and black are pleasant to me. That is why I decorated the map by tassels and embroidered it in red and black colors. The inscriptions are made in Latin letters because very few foreigners understand Ukrainian.

It is known that you were creating this map on the French dyed canvas…

I use only foreign materials. Unfortunately there are no materials of high quality in Ukraine but I want to represent our country on a proper level. So it happens I get materials via Moscow. I used to order even from Britain. Though the used materials are French and German, the work itself, the design and the creative art are Ukrainian.

I also used Swarovski crystals and 2000 meters of French DMC thread in the map ornamenting.

Plus two months of work, isn’t it?

Yes, the design development took a month. For the New Year I went to Kolomya and even sitting in the train I was developing the design on a checked page. When I was asked what I was doing I answered that I was making a map of Ukraine (laughing). And everyone was laughing having taken my words for a joke.

Where did you get Svarovsky crystals?

I have acquaintances that bring these gems from Austria. They are very expensive but my husband sponsors me; we have a private medical clinic.

Kyiv was indicated by a large Svarovsky crystal; smaller ones went for indication of regions. The map is also decorated by the gems on the outline.

Where is this map now? Where are you going to use it?

For today after the exhibition in the Ukrainian culture fund I keep the map at home. In general I had an idea to represent Ukraine by this map. To show it to people like that: look, this is our Ukraine. I also embroidered the names of countries bordering with Ukraine on the map.

Ukraine written in Chinese
There will also be conducted an image exhibition in China in 2010; I have already obtained an order for accessories for the staff of this hall, that means they will wear my embroidered ties. I am also planning to embroider the same map with Chinese inscriptions. I have even finished a draft: the word “Ukraine” written in three hieroglyphs.

So you are not going to sell the map?

It’s an image project, not a commercial one. But when I was working at it I took a great commercial interest in such maps to be made for presents. That is why I am planning to turn this into a commercial project. It’s only that I am going to embroider maps smaller in sizes for the convenience of transportation.

What is the approximate cost of the map?

My work will cost about 1000 USD. It’s interesting that from inside the map is embroidered by the threads that shine in the dark.

In accordance with Tatyana, these threads were presented to her in Japan by a local master. These threads are lurex silk. They are very expensive and are not sold in Ukraine.

Тетяна Протчева, краватки
You’ve also become famous embroidering ties, bow-ties and men’s handkerchiefs for tail coats. Why were you attracted by these components of clothes in particular?

Ukrainian ornaments look very pleasant to me. I like embroidered shirts as well, but there are institutions and companies requiring ties or bow-ties.

I embroidered the first tie for my son and he put it on only from the respect to my work. But after he went to his lyceum he came home and said “Mom, it’s superb!” (laughing). I understood that such things are topical and young people need them.

My son now studies in the Medical Institute dedicated to Bogomolets. He is a freshman and often wears embroidered ties at parties. One of the ties I made for him was white and it shined in the dark and under neon lights, so my son was telling me about the reactions of young people from his course and I saw they were interested. That is why I have developed designs of not very expensive tie models for students and people of different income levels to be able to afford them.

Do you ask for advice the men in your family in part of how and what to make?
Yes, actually I take advice only from them. My son provides me with modern ideas and my husband with those of the dimensioned and serious kind. For instance my husband proposed to me to leave a needle with a thread in each of the works and at present this has become my logotype used as if to underline the fact that it’s a piece of handicraft.

What ornaments do you use in your handiworks? I know that ornaments from Trypillya ceramics are present on some of them…
Ornaments from Trypillya ceramics look very nice to me. I like their color palette: there is white, terracota, black. I have developed an embroidered collection of Trypillya ceramic ornaments, too.

Also, I create ornaments using personal computer and my home archive that my mother left me. I modernize them and if I see that I need something in my collection I use ready made ones. Nowadays there are programs which can make a pattern from a photo containing up to 487 DMC thread colors.

Do you embroider using only cross-stitch or other stitch kinds as well?

I apply several embroidery techniques: strait and tilted cross; shtapivka and counted satin stitch when necessary.

It’s known that cross-stitch is not initially a Ukrainian kind of stitch but a borrowed one…

Well, they say that nyzynka (a kind of a counted satin stitch) is a more orthodox embroidery technique but I like to reproduce all ancient patterns using cross-stitch. Even if I find them made for different kinds of embroidery I make them suitable for cross-stitch technique.

I’ve heard you usually work five through eight in the morning…

It’s true. Really, it is better to embroider in the morning because it’s better for the sight and everyone in the house is sleeping so I can work in silence quietly (laughing).

Embroidery lessons for foreigners

Embroidery lessons for foreigners


You travel a lot and represent Ukraine abroad. You have already visited the US, Japan, Scotland, Israel. How do they accept Ukrainian art in general?

Quite in different ways, you know. For example, Japan has a highly developed culture of its own so people there welcomed Ukrainian art very warmly. When they bought handiworks with Ukrainian ornaments their eyes were shining. And when I presented my works to Khadzhu city major I took a tie from the box and put it on him. After the talk I wanted to take this tie off him to put it back into the box and present it to him in that way but he said: “Please, don’t, I’d like to wear it!” This touched me a lot and I understood that he felt nice and comfortable in this embroidered tie. Embroidery really acts as a kind of protecting charm.

How much time does it take to make one tie?

If it’s an original design than it takes me about a month. If I make a copy it is possible to complete it within a week.

It’s known that Victor Yushchenko, Anatoly Kinakh and other public persons wear your ties

You know I don’t like to talk about it. It doesn’t matter to me that persons of high positions wear my handiworks because I make them for everyone. The range of prices of my handiworks is such that students can buy them the same as presidents. That is if the embroidery takes much effort it will certainly be very expensive.

You also participated in the National Unity Rushnyk embroidering. In the pictures it is seen that you were sitting by Kateryna Yushchenko embroidering jointly…

This rushnyk is made from homespun fabric 9 meters long. 1100 Ukrainian masters were embroidering it for a year. 7 masters were from Kyiv and I was a participant in this action. Kateryna Yushchenko also took part in the completion of the Rushnyk at the Saint Sophia Cathedral territory so I was embroidering it together with her.

In the process of embroidering the National Unity Rushnyk

In the process of embroidering the National Unity Rushnyk


When I came to this activity I was very nervous; my cheeks were burning because of this situation where I was to embroider together with the President’s wife…(laughing). But after I started embroidering and speaking with Pani Kateryna we had a very nice talk. I asked her about her hobbies and she replied she was limited by time: she has children and social work and no time for a hobby because of that. But she was embroidering very well and I could see that it was not just for television. It was because the person was able to do this and appreciated this. So, after several minutes of talk with her I felt calm and my nervousness disappeared somewhere.

What exactly were you embroidering on that rushnyk? Was each master given a certain ornament beforehand?

The general conception was developed and this rushnyk was taken to each region of Ukraine for the masters to embroider it part by part. My bit was leaves near the coat of arms. I’ve even kept to myself the needle and a piece of the thread with which I was embroidering.

You embroider clothes for dolls, too

Tetyana Protcheva crafts Two years ago at the New Year’s Eve I dropped in a shop because I wanted to buy a present for my son and I overheard a talk of the following kind: a girl was asking her mom to buy her a doll as a present but it was very difficult for them to choose one. Then the girl said she wanted a doll in a Ukrainian costume but there were no dolls of this kind in the shop. And I saw them go away without a present. Then I went to other shops but dolls in Ukrainian costumes couldn’t be found anywhere. Then an idea to embroider dolls’ clothes came to my mind.

I made my first doll when I saw Yulia Timoshenko in the costume of Chernivtsy region on TV. I have a large library at home so I found such a picture in one of the books. Then I bought a ready made doll and ornamented its clothes by the patterns from this region. Certainly, everyone called the doll Yulia and that is how I got my first doll Yulia.

I bought first dolls in shops but again when I wanted to find a doll which would have a face resembling a Ukrainian one it was impossible to do. My first dolls were Chinese. Later I started to make dolls myself from fabrics and sacking. I make dolls without faces so that the future owners who will buy the dolls would be able to give them names and share their characters with them… They are exhibition works but if someone wants to buy any I sell them for 500-600 USD. Some of the dolls are decorated by gold crosses or gold latches on their bags; they can have gold fasteners on coral necklaces. Some of the dolls have leather boots or slippers from corn leaves. And as for this very doll, it has a necklace made of Venetian glass.

Kateryna Kachur was talking to the master

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