Last week, I was joined by Anja, Elena, Kristin, Mabel and Monika for a five-day blackwork embroidery course. It was great to see how people with different backgrounds got on so well with each other. It was a joy to have them around. Today, I'll give you an impression of how such a five-day course evolves and what my ladies achieved.
My five-day courses are a great opportunity to try out new things and to step out of your comfort zone. You don't have to, but you are most welcome to try! So my ladies started by dressing their slate frames. As Mabel had previously attended and completed the Royal School of Needlework Certificate Course with me, she came all prepared.
Soon they were all sitting at their trestles. Traditionally, a blackwork pattern is transferred onto even weave linen by the 'paper tear method'. Important pattern lines are drawn onto tissue paper, the paper is attached to the linen and then the lines are stitched using blue sewing thread. After the full pattern has been stitched on, the paper is torn away.
The way blackwork embroidery is taught at the RSN has little in common with its traditional form as seen on court clothing from the 16th century. Instead, it has been transformed into an art form whereby shading is of the utmost importance. This shading is achieved by choosing the appropriate geometric blackwork patterns, thickness of the embroidery thread used and the omission of stitches from the geometric blackwork pattern. In my opinion, the whole process is not unlike that for silk shading. However, if you would like to fill a pattern from a colouring book with a variety of geometric patterns using different thread thicknesses, that's ok too!
Above a slide show with the stitched results after five days of hard work. Not bad at all. And thanks to Monika, we did eat a lot of delicious cake as well!
Would you like to join me for a five-day embroidery course? Next up is canvaswork from the 5th till the 9th of September, followed by stumpwork from the 31st of October till the 4th of November. The 2017 program will be up on my website around August.
Jessica M. Grimm
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