Applications by Henri Matisse

Application – the technique of arts and crafts: essence, types, history

Applications by Henri Matisse
Applications by Henri Matisse

Applique is an arts and crafts technique based on gluing or sewing patterns, figures and other decorative elements of decoration onto a background material. The name of the term application comes from the Latin word applicatio – “attachment” or “attachment”.

Application has long been used by people not only to decorate household items and the environment. This ancient technique is also in demand in preschool and primary education for the development of sensory perception, creativity and motor skills in children.

A lady with a dog resting on the lawn. Konstantin Andreevich Somov
A lady with a dog resting on the lawn. Konstantin Andreevich Somov

Types of application

Applique is a versatile technique that combines a huge number of different types or methods of making decorative images. Among them there are both widespread throughout the world and unique, inherent in a certain culture and having a narrow geographical scope of options.

All types of applications can be classified according to the following criteria:

  • Shape (volumetric or flat). Color (single or multicolor).
  • Subject (subject, plot, decorative or abstract).
  • Scope of application (for interior items, household utensils, furniture, clothing, shoes).
  • Purpose (illustration, for decoration, updating the appearance or repairing the object of creativity).
  • Material (fabric, beads, paper, leather, fur, clay, straw, leaves, fluff, shells, cereals, buttons, threads, yarn, pieces of wood).
  • The type of base (on cardboard, fabric, wood, paper, glass, plastic).
  • Fastening method (sewn on and glued).
  • Style (vintage, country, modern, military, high-tech, ethno).
Flight of Icarus Henri Matisse
Flight of Icarus Henri Matisse

Applique has a lot in common with other popular arts and crafts techniques: decoupage and inlay.

All of them are designed to decorate interior items, but differ in characteristic features.

Inlay is the technique of finishing hard surfaces of the base with the same hard pieces of materials: wood, metal, artificial and natural stone, ivory, pearls. It is used to decorate the facades of buildings, interiors and pieces of furniture (tables, chairs, chests, dressers, wardrobes).

Decoupage is a kind of decoration technique in which the decoration elements glued to the base are additionally covered with a thick layer of varnish. The transparent film reliably protects the decor from the negative effects of moisture and temperature changes. Decoupage technique is used not only in conjunction with applique and inlay, but also when creating relief icons, dishes, picture frames.

Harlequin applique
Harlequin applique

Application history

The history of appliqué dates back to prehistoric times, when our ancient ancestors learned to sew clothes for themselves from animal skins. At the same time, the idea appeared to additionally decorate it with various decorative items. Gradually, in human society, people were divided into various categories (leaders, priests, common people, warriors, artisans, farmers).

Already in those days applique became a popular technique of arts and crafts. With its help, it was possible to visually designate a person’s belonging to a certain social group of people. The practice of decorating household items with appliqué quickly spread throughout the world. It was widely used for decoration:

  • horse equipment among nomadic peoples;
  • coats of arms and flags of the soldiers;
  • ceremonial attire for religious ceremonies by the clergy;
  • ceremonial and casual clothes from the nobility.
Italy. Scenes from ancient life. Sketch of a theater curtain. Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel
Italy. Scenes from ancient life. Sketch of a theater curtain. Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel

The ancient traditions of applique work have been constantly improved throughout the history of mankind. The older generations passed on their knowledge and skills to their descendants, periodically new materials appeared that could be used for decoration.

And in our time, the application has not lost its popularity. Contemporary artists continue to create unique pieces of decorative and applied art based on ancient folk traditions. In educational institutions, children comprehend the subtleties of the ancient application technique in order to join the world of beauty from an early age and develop creative skills.

Application. Leaves applique
Leaves applique
Application. Paper owl applique
Paper owl applique
Application. Polynesia
Application. Clothes decorated with applique in Ancient Russia
Clothes decorated with applique in Ancient Russia