We manually produce painted needlework threads and fabrics (Painters Threads) in a technique unique to House of Textile Arts. Products are sold worldwide through distributors and shops as well as our own online store. Our main sales area are the States, Australia and South Korea.
Our range of service is completed by offering local and Distance Learning high end needlework seminars.
Founder’s/Owner’s story and what motivated her to start the business
Since her childhood, BIZ (Bärbel Ingeborg Zimber) has been very intensively involved with all kinds of manual artistic work. Stimulated by an artistic family and a dedicated needlework 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.
BIZ then continued to work in mother’s room and got as much knowledge as possible from books. She used this in internships in various social institutions during her studies in social affairs and was able to clearly see the therapeutic effect manual work can have.
After graduation, BIZ also completed an apprenticeship at the hotel reception, obtained a degree as a forwarding agent, worked for a long time in various areas of banking, logistics and personnel management. There she got all the necessary knowledge to be an entrepreneur.
At some point BIZ learned about the Royal School of Needlework in London and soon 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!
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.
BIZ has deepened her High 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!
In September 1995, BIZ received her diploma in a ceremony at Christie’s London auction house, a fitting end to such a valuable time.
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 (https://textilkunstschule.de) founded by BIZ, she is doing a lot to make the Art aspect of embroidery accessible to the public again.
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 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. 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. Seminars are offered in German and English.
In addition to the school, there is the area of the world-famous Painters Threads , which also arose from BIZ’s creativity. BIZ has been mixing different art forms since she was young. The intensive occupation with needlework made her find more and more painters who also dealt with textile techniques. Especially artist from the “Blaue Reiter” circle like Macke, Klee or Kandinsky along with some female painters like Gabriele Münter or Marianne Werefkin. So, BIZ got the idea, like many before her, to interpret painted master pieces in a new way and make them come alive again as stitched master pieces.
The first picture that BIZ wanted to convert into a textile technique was “Der Kreuzberg bei Bonn” a watercolor and chalk work by August Macke. For this project she wanted to have a thread for a certain area that should not be an even rhythm of repeating color sequences, but a colorful composition of the colors used. Long weeks of experimenting with different dyeing methods available to hand dyers these days using modern base materials then led to her special way of hand painting textile materials: The unique Painters technique that allowed this effect to be achieved.
This fully corresponds to what the small dye factory wants to offer modern hand stitchers: exclusivity and extravagance. It is no longer a question of dyeing in the traditional sense, but of painting the threads using an unusual technique.
At some point, the threads fell into the hands of cross-stitch designers in ways that can no longer be traced and conquered their hearts. Now the wheel started rolling! BIZ stood there with the joy that this thread has found many friends and with the knowledge that this type of hand dyeing does not make a reproducible result possible…
Textile addicts wouldn’t be such if they let such a trifle get them down! So, the technique was perfected and series production started. The Painters Threads were born! Each color has the name of a male painter (last name like Macke) or a female painter (first name like Frida). The colors correspond to those that these artists used very often or in a well-known painting.
In the meantime, they have a worldwide fan community, despite – or perhaps because each product is absolutely unique. They also lend life to the projects of students at the International School for Textile arts who use them profoundly in the long term classes.
The available colors and links to the information pages about the namesake can be found here: https://housetextilearts.eu/painters-threads-farben .
Where it all started with 10 little skeins per color and 5 qualities, there are now more than 40 different high quality textile products in a total of 40 colors. In the meantime, each year around one hundred thousand spools and fabrics are on the move all over the world and into the hands of vivid textile enthusiasts.
The challenges the business/market is facing
The market is swamped with cheep quality materials for needlework and thus it is getting more and more difficult to sell high quality materials at a reasonable price. Also, there are less and less people around that do have a deep knowledge about needlework. The main suppliers and teachers focus on machine embroidery. Classes are ever so often offered at no costs at all and thus make it very hard for teachers who must make a living out of teaching. Thus, it is a big challenge for us to find good quality materials and highly educated teachers to help sell the products. But it is also very rewarding to see that there are still a lot of mostly family owned business around the world that specialize in those high quality raw materials like silk and long stapled cotton.
People have more and more very demanding jobs and are often too tired for stitching. So, it is our passion to convince them that needlework is not just a quick pastime but can make them relax and it can be used as a “detox” for stressful everyday situations.
The opportunities the business/market is facing
We never paid any heed to the opinion of anybody else that says, needlework is old fashioned and will not stay for long. We know it is still alive even in the 21st century! We are in contact with many needlework teachers around the world that are eager to get the high-quality materials House of Textile Arts can offer. They also like to take advantage of the deep knowledge we have at House of Textile Arts and often take a chance to get our advice. There are that many different techniques that there is room for many more teachers that take the advantage of learning traditional stitching and offer that special touch that studying at the International School for Textile Arts will help them to find.
Advice to others about business
This path in a niche-business 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 needlework is not just a pastime, needlework is like meditation: needlework is something pointlessly beautiful. 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.
Hand crafted items are never cheap items and will never be. So, we convince customers of the need to have high quality materials to get beautiful projects and satisfied customers by offering them the best quality they can get and as much advice as possible. To achieve this, we never keep any secrets about hand embroidery to ourselves but give customers the feeling that it is a joy to commit themselves to a wonderful artisanship and go for “lifelong learning” in this field.