The impressive sunflower is old and prevalent. So it is no wonder that it shows up as a popular motif in Schwalm whitework. (The sunflower motif should not be confused with one of the main Schwalm whitework motifs – the sun. The sun, also a circle motif, is commonly outlined with scallops or 2 short-2 long.)
Sunflower fields are currently in full bloom; these inspired me to take a closer look at sunflowers in Schwalm whitework.
The images I include here are arranged chronologically. The oldest traditional embroidery in my collection that includes a sunflower motif is from about 1770. It is early Schwalm whitework without any withdrawal of threads. Others date from the beginning of the 19th century. Embroideries from the 20th century and contemporary examples follow.
The circle center of the sunflower motif can be filled with a variety of different patterns allowing for an incredible number of creative possibilities.
The focus here is the arrangement of the petals. It is of particular interest because the embroiderers were also eminently creative in this point. From the very abstract design, which is identifiable as sunflower only upon second consideration, up to the nearly realistic rendering, many interpretations and nuances are found. This applies also to the sizes; there are some small, but also some very large examples.
Please take a look for yourself!