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Quality Comparison

Quality Guidelines for Susho                                                                                                    

You do not have to be an expert to appreciate the quality of handmade Susho masterpieces. One look is all you will need to be impressed. To judge the quality of Susho, please look at:
  1. Artistic Talent – The individual artist's skills and development.
  2. Strand Size – The thinner the thread, the more refined the art.
  3. Stitch Length – The shorter the stitches, the more percision of the art. 
  4. Silk Colors – The more colors, the more realistic look of the art.
  5. Stitch Layers – The more layers, the greater the depth of perspective of the art.
  6. Silk Quality - Suzhou is the silk capital of the world, providing the optimal conditions for the silk worm. Suzhou Silk is the finest silk in the world.
 
Combining these quality elements together determine the true value of the silk embroidery artwork. The quality and prices range from very high-end artwork worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to low-end pieces worth tens of dollars. This section is designed to help you determine the true value.
 
1. Artistic Talent - The individual skills and development                                                              
Professional Susho artists go through a lengthy learning process to develop their 

skills and talent. The very first lessons begin on grandma's knee. For Susho 

families, teaching our children about the family legacy is a centuries old tradition. 

For those with talent and an interest, formal training starts in their late teens.

Artists must spend ten years as a student and another eight years as a teacher in order to meet the time requirement to be a Master Silk Artist. After five years as a Master Silk Artist, an artist may apply to become a Grand Master Silk Artist. These are general guidelines. Time alone does not necessarily make you a Master or Grand Master. Talent and skill must be demonstrated as well.

 

Master Artwork 

 

Student Artwork 

     
Artistic Talent: Master Artist                                           Artistic Talent: Student Artist                                       
Strand Size:  Single Strand, 1/16   Strand Size: 8 Strands, 8/16
Stitch Length: Very Small   Stitch Length: Long
Silk Colors: Up to 35   Silk Colors: Approx 6
Stitch Layers: Up to 12   Stitch Layers: 1
 
2. Strand Size – The thinner the silk, the finer the art.                                                             

The thickness of the silk thread is an important aspect of each work of Silk Art. One silk thread can be divided into 16 individual strands, the smallest, finer than a human hair. A good rule-of-thumb is the thinner the silk, the finer the quality of the silk embroidery.

Overall, the affect of Susho is similar to Pointillism. Up close you can see each of the tiny stitches and marvel at the design and execution of such detailed work, but when you step back, you are enthralled by the beauty of the image created.

The quality of a piece is primarily identified by the strand count used to create the art. You can have a one strand piece, two strand piece, four strand piece, eight strand piece or sixteen strand piece. Only a tiny handful of people can stitch using a single strand.
The single strand is so delicate the slighest inadvertent movement can break it. 

Single strand pieces are rare and very expensive, ranging in the thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars. While some Master Artists can work in single strand, this is generally the realm of Grand Master Artists. The result is a near-photographic
realism for the nature-based pieces, and expression and emotion for the conceptual works.

We categorize our art as:

Medium - 8 Strands
Fine - 4 Strands
Very fine - 2 Strands
Ultra fine - 1 Strand, single

The two images below, give some perspective on thread thickness. The top image compares human hair with a single strand of silk thread. The bottom image compares the thickness of two strands, four strands, eight strands and sixteen stands.


The works of Master Artists usually have a mixture of strand counts, depending on the texture the artist is trying to achieve.

Human hair compared with a single strand of silk thread, the curved lines are human hair
The middle straight line is single strand of silk thread, nearly invisible
 
 
2, 4, 8, 16 strands compared together
Medium - 8 Strands, Fine - 4 Strands, Very Fine - 2 Strands, Ultra Fine - 1 Strand, Single
 
 
 
 3. Stitch Length – The smaller the stitching, the more persicion of art.                                                      
Long stitches are faster and easier, short stitches are more time consuming. Quality is directly impacted by the stitching. It is how the artist controls the overall imaging but also the interaction with light and shadows. Stitching can be so small you can not even determined it has been stitched. The smaller the stitching, the higher quality of art.
 
 

Student Artwork

 

 

Master artwork

 

     
Artistic Talent: Student Artist                            Artistic Talent: Master Artist                                         
Strand Size: 16 Strands, 16/16   Strand Size:  Single Strand, 1/16
Stitch Length: Very Long   Stitch Length: Very Small
Silk Colors: Approx 6   Silk Colors: Up to 45
Stitch Layers: 1 - 2   Stitch Layers: Up to 29
 
 
 
4. Color - the more colors, the more realistic look of the art.                                                                         
Only carefully-dyed, pure silk is used in our Susho. We use thousands of different shades of color. The wide variety of tones and shades used by our artists, allow them to create shading and dimension bringing the silk embroidery artwork to life.The same images may made in different sizes and quality levels. Usually, the larger canvases will use a greater variety of colors. With few exceptions, very detailed and colorful artwork will need to be made in larger sizes. 
 
 
 Master Artwork
   Student Artwork 
     
Artistic Talent: Master Artist   Artistic Talent: Student Artist
Strand Size:  Single Strand, 1/16   Strand Size: 8 Strands, 8/16
Stitch Length: Very Small   Stitch Length: Long
Silk Colors: Up to 90   Silk Colors: Approx 8
Stitch Layers:  Up to 39    Stitch Layers: 2 - 3  
 
 
5. Layers of Stitches - Visual Depth                                                                                                                
Silk artists vary the length and thickness of stitches, layering them one on top of one another to create depth of perspective. The Susho creation process is different from paintings. When an artist creates an image in silk, each of the individual fibers and their color remain intact. Where a painter would blend the paints to create the exact affect desired, a silk embroidery artist must blend the colors by layering them. The effect is to control exposure of color, depth of perseptive, lighting and shadowing, creating an effect not replicated in any other form of art.  The more skilled an artist is at layering and stichting the more dynamic the interaction with light. This is a key measurement of quality called Visual Depth. 
Some simple pieces may have 3 or 4 layers of stitches; larger works might have ten times that amount. When a silk embroidery artist creates a very complicated landscape, it has more layers of stitches than are completely visible, building and blending the colors to replicate nature as closely as possible. The same piece of art can become the forest in morning sun, to mid-day, to evening and even all the way to moonlight. It is truly spectacular and beautiful. 
 
Stand  in front of this landscape, the middle of the road is heading straight for you!
                      
 
Walk to the left side of this landscape, the middle of the road is still heading straight for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk to the right side of this landscape, the middle of the road is still heading straight for you!
 
 
 
6. Silk Quality                                                                                                                                            

Silk Quality is one of the key reasons Susho from Suzhou China is so famous. There are several areas in the world which produce silk art, Suzhou-China, Thailand, Dalat-Vietnam. Of these, Suzhou is recognized as The Silk Capital of the World. Suzhou was and is the beginning of the Silk Road. This is where Marco Polo went in the 13th Century. Suzhou provides the optimal conditions to raise silk worms, resulting in the highest light reflection qualities for silk, emphasizing dynamic color and light changes. In China, silk art from Suzhou is the most highly prized and sought after. 

Suzhou is not only a garden city; it is also the capital of silk. In the Tang and Song dynasties, Suzhou was the undisputed silk center; and in the Ming and Qing dynasties, the imperial high-quality silk was in the main produced by Suzhou’s weavers.