Wow, thank you so much for all who entered my give-away! Seventy comments were left on last week's blog post. The flower with the most votes turned out to be the Carnation, followed by Campanula and Tudor Rose. So glad I asked my blog readers for their favourites as I had never thought that the humble Carnation would win. But, more importantly, who won the give-away and will be the proud owner of a copy of the ebook on 'Early 17th century linen vestments from Tyrol: Historical background, where to find and instructions' and the kit of her choice? Drumroll please!
And the winner is: Jackie Ayres who voted for Viola. Congratulations!
If you weren't the lucky winner, don't fret! You'll find my new ebook for sale in my webshop. One Euro of each sold ebook will be donated to the Museum in Brixen where the chasuble that inspired me to this ebook is housed. You will also find embroidery kits for the Carnation, Campanula and Tudor Rose there.
So what's in the ebook? Besides the historical background on the silk embroidered linen vestments from Tyrol, you'll find a list with museums where you can find these gorgeous pieces of embroidery. In the second part of the ebook, you'll find the eight flowers of the Brixen chasuble as a line drawing and with instructions so that you can stich your own. Furthermore, there's instructions on materials used, stitches used (three youtube videos) and where to find the materials used. Not fond of silks? No worries. The line drawings can be used for other types of surface embroidery too! How about using them in a crewel piece? Or go wild with stranded cotton and all sorts of filling stitches. Anything goes as long as you are having fun with needle, thread and my ebook!
I am beavering away on writing the texts for my upcoming ebook on the linen vestments from Tyrol. The good news is: my sampler is finally finished! And that's where I need your help. I am planning on releasing kits to go with the ebook. After all, you might want to try your hand at one of these gorgeous flowers too. So for today's giveaway, I'd like to know which of the flowers on my sampler you like best. Leave your answer in a comment on this blog post (comments left on other blog posts or via email or any other way, do not count). The winner will get the new ebook and the kit of her/his choice upon release. I will randomly pick one winner on Monday the 11th of June 2018. You must leave your comment before Sunday the 10th of June 24:00h CET.
And here are the flowers you can choose from: Carnation, Viola, Tudor Rose, Tulip, Wild Rose, Tiger Lily, Campanula and Peony.
Thanks for your help! And I'll keep writing :).
As I am working really hard to finish my upcoming ebook on the linen vestments from Tyrol, it's just a short post today. But a rather nice one! First up is a beautiful blackwork tiger by Olga Tempel. She attended my five-day blackwork course earlier this year and recently finished this epic piece. I think she did a terrific job with the shading, don't you agree?
Remember my Millie Marotta fox? He won me first prize in the 'Stitch your Heart out' competition organised by Inspirations Magazine. Fox had been down-under for more than a year as Inspirations promised me to make him into an article. Alas, they finally decided they weren't going to do that after all and I got fox back after a nasty and expensive battle with German customs. During transit the frame got badly damaged. Luckily, I've found a really good framer in nearby Murnau: Galerie Gewehr. I think they did a great job on my fox! It now hangs in my kitchen for all to enjoy.
And last but not least, I managed to finish a commission today: Emilia's baptism gown. I am sure the little baby-girl will look adorable in it!
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Thanks to all who have written encouraging comments on last week's blog post regarding my first successful art exhibition! As you can probably imagine, I am still mulling it all over. Getting rid of self-limiting beliefs I have held dear for nearly 28 years can't be done overnight. And isn't easy either. At least I can pinpoint with ease where my 'I am not an artist' belief comes from. It was firmly ingrained by my first art teacher in college. I've never quite understood why he disliked (or was it even hate?) me so much. But I turned from a very creative kid into somebody who focussed on perfecting techniques instead. Not only did he tell me to my face and in front of all my classmates that my drawing or painting was shitty, he would even tear it up. Now that's a real confidence booster...
Unfortunately, nobody was either able or willing to protect a sensitive 12-year-old from such a bully. He told my mother that he treated me the way he did because I should not think that I had what it takes to go to Art School. Never mind that I had never ever thought of going there in the first place. Fellow teachers I asked for help were merely telling me that art wasn't important enough to make a fuss. Luckily, I had a very different teacher the next year and I briefly enjoyed art classes again. Unfortunately, the rest of my college time I had to put up with the bully again. I skipped classes as often as I legally could and when I was there, I solved crosswords instead. And the rest is history. I became a scientist but wasn't happy as I did not fit the system. When I decided to quit and try to be a craftswoman it took till last week to see I was sending a mixed message. And that made a mess. Time to clean it up. I am aware that this might alienate people as they don't understand, but that's a risk I am prepared to take. Life is too short and very precious!
To end this blog post on a lighter note: the cats. As I am working on two projects at the moment, I've set up two frames. When I came into the studio this morning, both chairs were already occupied. Luckily, I was allowed to sit on one of them after breakfast. Sammie needed to harass some dragonflies and bring me one as a present (no worries, it was undamaged and released into the garden). Unfortunately, this is what happened during my lunch break:
What was I to do? As a good cat-mum, I just couldn't shoo either one of them from their respective chairs and resume working on either embroidery project. That's just not done and would disregard the Geneva Convention on the proper treatment of cats. Instead, I decided to sit behind my laptop and write a blog post :).
Last weekend, I participated in a small-scale art exhibition with a painter and a sculptor. It was my first time exhibiting as an artist rather than a craftswoman. And I made some interesting observations I'd like to share with you. Especially as this art exhibition was a so much more positive experience than the usual craft fair!
We promoted our exhibition through posters and flyers laid out at local shops. In addition, I promoted the event on Facebook, Instagram, my website and through my newsletter. However, the best medium to promote your event in rural Bavaria, is through a local newspaper. We were very fortunate to have two such papers taking an interest. And their articles were lovely. They even managed to take a decent picture of me!
Me and my embroideries took up residence in the sculptor's atelier. Two beautiful rooms with good natural light. I was allowed to hammer nails into the walls where ever I wanted. What luxury! My embroideries where more spaced-out than what is possible at a craft fair. I was able to group similar ones together and to add proper descriptions. Besides naming the piece, I also added materials and year of creation. There was plenty of space for people to mill around and get really close to my work. I also set up my trestles with my slate frame to show a piece of silk shading as work in progress. That proved to be a clever move, as people were very interested in this technique.
Our promotions had clearly worked. The day before I was setting up the exhibition, I was contacted by a buyer who didn't dare wait till the exhibition was officially open. She bought three of my pieces! During the two-day exhibition, I sold two more. In addition, I also sold a few pendants, a food cover and an embroidery kit. Much more than what I usually sell at a craft fair. And so far, I have never sold an embroidered item other than pendants, at a craft fair.
Until now, I have been reluctant to call myself an artist. And I get the giggles when somebody in my presence does. But I think it is perhaps time to make the transition from crafter to artist. For starters: I've been invited on the spot to two more art exhibitions as people where so impressed by my work. These exhibitions have equal low costs for me as this exhibition had. That seems to be the biggest difference between craft fairs and art exhibitions: the costs. This one was exceptionally low: part of the costs of the flyers and two cakes. But the others are very reasonable too: cost of flyers, drinks during the vernissage (if I want such a gathering!) and 5% of my sales. You see, no sales do thus not equal disaster as it does with craft fairs. Who knew?!
What I also found refreshing was the type of visitor. Yes, there were fellow stitchers and yes some made the same kind of silly remarks as they tend to do at craft fairs. But the majority were art lovers. And they are a different tribe altogether. They either like a piece or they don't like a piece. Fine by me, I can deal with that.
And my new tribe was very clear about their tastes and interests: goldwork and silk shading. With copies of local painters' work in canvas (think: my interpretation of Franz Marc's tiger). And since I sold so many pieces, I need to create some more of that in the coming months. Oh joy! But first I'd like to finish my ebook on the linen vestments from Tyrol. Because attending an art exhibition does take time. And with several commissions sitting on the shelves, the ebook is unfortunately lower on the list of priorities... Nevertheless, I hope you liked my report on my first-ever art exhibition. And maybe some of you should transition from crafter to artist too? Still giggling...
Before I am going to feed you with some more embroidery eye-candy, I want to thank all readers who commented on last week's blog post. It seems to be that it is indeed possible to create these pieces on a loom and work the ends in. A picture of a woman weaving such a particular piece was posted on this topic in Mary Corbet's Facebook group. Equally, a comment with a link to a Swedish blog showed a similar piece being made on an embroidery frame. Pieces like these can thus be created by weaving or by pattern darning. That's fascinating, don't you think?
On a different note: I became a shipment of House of Embroidery perle, silk, stranded cotton and silk ribbon today! I've stocked up the webshop and almost all colours are back in stock. If you were waiting for a particular colour, grab it before it is gone again :).
And just one final shout out before we go back to Crete: I am participating in an art exhibition next weekend. Please come and visit me at Marion Werner's Studio in Steingaden. The exhibition is open on Saturday 12th of May 13-19h and Sunday 13th of May 11-19h. Entry is free and there is cake and coffee too!
One of the best places to find beautifully presented embroidery, is in the Historical Museum of Crete in Heraklion (www.historical-museum.gr/eng/). There is a small display of richly decorated Orthodox vestments. These were made at the Asomaton Monastery and look similar to the ones from the Monastery of Arkadi. Do you see the fine embroidered lettering running vertically along the embroidery on the left? That's where it says who made this particular piece. In this case: 'the present was restored by the monk Methodios and the deacon Anthimos on the 1st of October 1854. The patron was Abbot Joseph'.
And then there is a whole floor (!) dedicated to the ethnographic collection. And oh joy, that is mainly textiles! The pieces themselves where lovingly displayed. But the main advantage were the detailed descriptions about them in English. The pieces were grouped according to life's rituals: religious holidays, marriage, birth, death, etc. Such a joy to read about the different textiles and their context of use! Seldom seen such a well-made exhibition. Here are some of the beautifully embroidered pieces:
A richly embroidered towel, probably from Ierapetra.
There were many examples of Ottoman-style embroidery and of Cretan embroidery.
And last but not least, I found the above text very moving and much in line with my own drive.
As stated in my previous two blog posts, you'll see embroidered items everywhere you turn on Crete. But due to language problems and an overall decline in needlework in recent years, researching a particular type of embroidery can be hard. And I got all confused when I was told time and time again that the particular items I had seen were woven and not stitched. I was pretty sure this wasn't true for the pieces I had seen in my hotel and in various churches. But it was true for the cheap mono-coloured tourist souvenirs on display in the streets. What's going on here?
This is the type of folk embroidery (or is it weaving?) I am talking about. Without even looking at the back, this screams 'embroidery' to me. To me this is a counted thread technique known as darning. I just love the winged dragons and the overall bright colours contrasting with the white background!
And here is the back. Clearly, this is embroidery. Executed with cotton threads (probably DMC stranded cotton) on a closely woven thicker linen.
Here is an even finer example. Can you see the tiny seeding stitches filling the space between the cocks and between the elements of the vine? They are even present in the two smaller borders. Why are they there? Let's turn the piece over.
Those tiny seed stitches on the front anchor the thread that's carried across from design element to design element. Without those tiny stitches, the thread carried at the back would be far too long and far too loose. Clever, isn't it?! Could this one be machine embroidered or even have been woven on a loom? The example further above and below, do clearly not carry threads across empty spaces.
Here's another example. Not the very fine fabric and the much thicker embroidery threads in comparison.
And the last one. Not so sure of the design on this one :).
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the touristic souvenir ones. Design-wise they display the same elements. But they are not colourful. The whole design has the same colour and it is usually in tone with the background (think beige on cream). Or at least that's the ones I have been shown.
So, what's going on here? Do embroiderers and weavers use the same the designs when making tablecloths and table runners? Or does the embroiderer copy the weaver in style and technique or vice versa? Maybe because weaving is much quicker than stitching? And why was it that none of the embroidery ladies I spoke with considered this embroidery at all? Well, that might be due to the embroidery technique involved. After all, these darning patterns are achieved when you use your needle and thread in a weaving motion! Fascinating don't you think?
And now: over to you! Have you ever seen this type of embroidery before? What is it called? What materials are used? Where can I find patterns? I am aware of the Dutch darning samplers and the new book on 'Pattern darning from Norway' by Yvette Stanton. In my opinion, what makes the embroideries from Crete differ, is that they not only depict geometrical patterns. I really love the roosters, the dragons and the floral motives. So over to you! Please share your knowledge and experiences in a comment!
Are you ready for another trip to beautiful Crete? This time we are going to visit the Monastery of Arkadi. This place is famous for one of the many tragedies which befell the island during Ottoman rule. In 1866, 943 Greeks, mainly women and children, had sought refuge at the Monastery. After three days of fierce battle with the Turks, they decided to rather kill themselves by igniting barrels of gunpowder, than to fell into the hands of the Turks. It is quite impressive to walk into the ruined gunpowder magazine. You can read more about the tragedy and the monastery's history here. Not mentioned anywhere, the monastery used to house a famous workshop for the embroidery of ecclesiastical textiles for the Greek Orthodox church! And these beauties have recently returned to Arkadi. Freshly conserved and beautifully presented. Officially, you are not allowed to take pictures. However, I explained to the guard that I am an embroideress myself and that I re-create historical vestments. It was then ok for me to take as many pictures as I liked!
But first things first. The embroidered vestments of the Orthodox Church are very different from the ones we are used to in the West. We mainly have chasubles, copes and dalmatics, they have epigonation (rhomboid piece of luxurious material suspended from the waist at knee-level), epimanikia (detachable cuffs used to bind the wide sleeves of lower vestments), epitrachelion (stole), orarion (narrow band of cloth wound around the upper body of the deacon) and phaelonion (chasuble) with polos (medallion applique sewn onto other vestments). Yes, that's all Greek to me too :). Secondly, these vestments date to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Thirdly, the monks who made them, signed their work. How amazing is that?
The style of the embroideries and the techniques used, differ from Western European goldwork embroidery of the same period. But there are parallels. Especially the use of floral motives is seen in both traditions in this period. Apparently, the use of padding is also a Western influence as the Byzantine tradition does not make use of it. Apart from fine gold and silver threads, the embroiderers also used semi-precious stones and silk in their embroideries. Crimson silk was preferred for the background. Faces were stitched by appliqueing a lighter silk and subtly stitching facial features on top.
Moni Arkadi is well worth a visit for embroidery enthusiasts! The embroideries are well displayed in good light and have excellent caption texts in Greek and English. Besides, there are larger texts on the recent conservation and style of the embroideries. And best of all: the museum shop sells a booklet on the matter! The booklet is in Greek, English and German and has pictures and descriptions of all the embroideries on display, with a basic introduction. Pictures are ok, but not always splendid and the booklet is a little outdated regarding the current display. However, it is a good booklet for reference and at €3,00 it won't break the bank for most of us. The title is: Drandakis, N.V., 2000: Ecclesiastical embroidery at the monastery of Arkadi, ISBN: 960-86722-0-1.
P.S. If you liked my blog post on the embroideries of Moni Arkadi then please consider making a donation! Unfortunately, implementing the new GDPR regulations regarding European Data Privacy has doubled the costs of running this website as I needed to get legal advice.
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I am back from a lovely holiday to beautiful Crete! Apart from incredibly hospitable people, fascinating archaeological sites, good food and wild landscapes, Crete is an island full of embroidery. You'll encounter beautifully embroidered household linens in homes, hotels, restaurants and churches. It consists mainly of whitework, cross stitch and bright folklore embroidery. Goldwork embroidery is the almost exclusive domain of the Greek Orthodox Church. Apart from seeing beautiful embroidery, I love meeting fellow embroidery enthusiasts and buying local embroidery supplies. So this first blog post on Crete is on embroidery shops.
Where does one buy embroidery supplies? At the local mini-market for instance. We stayed in Enagron ecovillage near Axos and the mini-market in Axos sported a decent supply of DMC stranded cotton, perle and crochet yarns. As I did not see any fabric, I enquired at our accommodation to find out about any other shops in the vicinity. Our hosts turned out to be avid embroiderers themselves, so we had a pleasant conversation on embroidery. I even taught them how to do a bullion knot as they were mesmerized by the bullion roses on my needlecase.
Armed with an embroidery shop address in Perama, me and my husband hunted it down. Not so easy. Shops have a very different look on Crete compared to over-orderly Western Europe :)! The Cretan version of an embroidery shop is a long and narrow dark room stuffed with supplies. You can hardly walk in there. And it is interesting to see what other items are on sale: towels, bed linens, socks and nylons, etc. Explaining what you want is difficult too. The ladies in the shops are elderly and very helpful, but only speak Greek. As they also sell finished embroideries (watch out: not necessarily made in Greece!, more likely cheap and cheerful China and Tunisia), they assume you come for that. It helped that I carried some finished embroidery myself to show them.
The embroidery shops in Perama mainly sold DMC stranded cotton, perle and cotton a broder. Fabric-wise, they have aida, coarse linen, sparkly canvasses, pre-printed canvasses and simple embroidery kits. They also have books full of embroidery designs (cross stitch, richelieu and folklore) of which they can make a copy for you. You can also find needles, sewing thread, crochet yarn, wool, etc. It is best to carefully browse the heaps of supplies. I was lucky and found a piece of sand-coloured 100% fine linen from France. I also bought some perle yarn. After all, these ladies can really use the money as the consequences of the austerity measures are clearly visible. You can find one shop on the Palea EO Rethimnou Irakliou next to the National Bank and the other one almost opposite on Epar. Od. Peramatos-Exantis.
Apparently, beading and making jewellery is incredibly hot among young people in Greece! The shops where you can find beading supplies are bright and organised with a hip and urban feel. My favourite was Perla in Rethymno. I was especially taken with the wide selection of beads and cabochons made of semi-precious stones. The young woman running the store is a maker herself and speaks excellent English. She told me that she will soon open a webshop. If you'd like to stay in the loop on that, why not visit her facebook page?
I also located an embroidery shop on Eth. Antistaseos, also located in the old town centre. Two young women ran the store when I visited and they were very helpful. They had a heap of old DMC pattern leaflets in Greek. They weren't selling them, but I was allowed to take photographs. In return, I bought some #9 needles and some cotton a broder #30. They also sold linen fabric for richelieu embroidery. I saw the traced patterns behind the counter. Apparently, you buy the fabric and threads and have the pattern of your choice transferred onto the linen using blue carbon paper. The ladies told me that cotton a broder #30 is the finest thread they stock nowadays as this type of embroidery is not so popular anymore.
The last shop I visited was Gini in Heraklion on Kalokairinou Avenue. For me personally, this shop was a little too loud! The girls behind the counter where of the giggling type. Nevertheless, I managed to buy some more beads made of semi-precious stones and some fresh-water pearls. Gini has several shops throughout Greece and sells online too. They have a 50% sale going on...
If you know of any other embroidery shops on Crete, please leave your recommendation in a comment below. It would be lovely if this blog post becomes a reference for all who plan a holiday on Crete! Next week, we'll have a look at some of the beautiful embroideries I encountered.
For the past couple of months, I have been investigating a particular silk embroidery technique from Tyrol. In lieu of a better name, I called it 'Italian couching'. Since this name is already taken in the embroidery universe for not one, but two very different embroidery techniques, I have dropped it. The sparse German literature on the matter refers to it as 'linen vestments from Tyrol'. Perfect! Taken.
What is so special about this particular silk on linen embroidery? Several things. But my most recent discovery involved the embroidery technique itself. Upon closely studying my pictures I had taken in the Diözesanmuseum in Brixen, I discovered that there were no short stitches in the laid-work. Not even when a shape narrowed. Hmmm. Not a 'normal' Bayeux stitch in silk after all. So what did the stitchers from Tyrol do different?
Basically, to achieve a curving petal or leaf, they sculpt their laid-work when placing the long couching stitches on top. As this is a little hard to explain in writing, I made my first ever instruction video. You'll see me work a simple leaf. Whilst stitching the laid-work, I sometimes push previous stitches out of the way. When adding the long couching stitches, I really 'work' my laid-work to form a nicely curved leaf with really nice tips. And I think this is the reason why the Tyrolian stitchers 'sculpted' some of the embroidery elements: really, really nice tips! And I think this sculpting is what makes this style of embroidery differ from, for instance, the Castelo Branco embroidery from Portugal. But please correct me if I am wrong.
By the way, you can help me a lot in promoting my YouTube channel! Please take the time to not only like my video, but please also subscribe to my channel. The more views, but especially subscribers, and my videos will get noticed by many more stitchers. I will try to add to my channel regularly. And I also have an ebook in the pipeline on these linen vestments from Tyrol. So far, I have written up instructions for two of the eight flower designs seen on the chasuble from Brixen.
But first: I am going on my first official holiday in about six years! I am not teaching embroidery at my destination, nor am I attending a conference on archaeology. And neither is my husband :). To make sure that I will relax as much as possible, I won't read my email, nor will I do any Social Media. And no blog either, sorry. This means that any orders placed before Friday the 30th of March 24:00h CET, will ship before I head to Crete. Later orders will not ship before Monday the 16th of April. In the meantime, have fun watching my video!
Jessica M. Grimm
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