When my parents visited, they brought with them this charming embroidered flea market find. I've never seen anything quite like it. As we were all a bit puzzled as to what it was, we decided to take it apart. As it had already some damage, we didn't feel too guilty about it :).
Here are the front and the back of it. The glass is very dirty and you can probably just make out that the image has a horizontal line of damage just below the gentlemen's right knee. From the different layers of tape on the back, we could see that the frame had been opened before. Possibly because they say that some lucky people find treasure in them :).
We were in for a surprise when we opened the frame. Underneath the embroidery was a picture from composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886)! As to the embroidery: it is glued to cardboard and sits in a simple frame with roughly cut glass. The embroidery has been glued to the cardboard first and then both were roughly cut out as testified by the rough edges.
A closer look at the embroidery reveals that it has been stitched on what looks like a printed silk fabric with a pile. Not a heavy velvet, but more a chiffon velvet. It is very, very thin. The stitching has been done with a fine shiny silk thread with a soft twist. Very fine details, like the men's necktie, have been stitched with a finer and more firmly twisted thread. Likely silk too. Details are added with a fine gilt twist and the buttons on the men's jacket are made of tiny gilt spangles stitched down with a tiny facetted gold metal bead. The flowers on the hats are some sort of embossed metal (high lead content) pieces that once were painted or glazed.
There are a number of different stitches used in this charming piece. The men's jacket, waistcoat and breeches, as well as his hat (a bicorne), both pairs of shoes, the lady's bodice and the bow on her hat are stitched in a form of satin filling stitch. His cuffs and her sleeves are stitched with buttonhole stitch. Additional details on her upper skirt consist of French knots. It is all quite detailed! However, it seems that the stitch quality is a bit better and far more elaborate on the male.
I think that the clothing of the pair places them in the 18th century, but I am by no means an expert on this topic. The gentlemen wears healed buckled shoes, a bicorne head (apparently folded the Dutch way), a jacket, waistcoat and breeches that fit snugly around the knee. He also wears a short powdered wig typical of the time. It all marks him out as a true nobleman. The woman puzzles me a bit. What kind of robe is that? It has a corset with a stomacher, full short sleeves, a voluminous upper skirt and a narrow under skirt. Or could it be that there is a hidden meaning to it all? Does she show him her skirts to let us know what they have been up to? The grapes could point into this direction as well.
Questions, questions, questions! Would love to hear your thoughts on the fashion of the pair.
But that's not all. The materials used are not every day embroidery supplies. My guess is that the background silken fabric was originally a piece of 'wallpaper'. Did it come out of a stately home during remodeling of a room? Did the lady of the house confiscate a well-preserved bit and stitch on it? And when was this done? Likely 19th or more 20th century?
More questions! Please do leave your thoughts in a comment below! Looking forward to solve this little flea market mystery :).
Happy start of the week dear reader! I am back from a week full of wonderful sight-seeing with my family. And one of the sites we visited was the Bauernhofmuseum in Illerbeuren. A pretty open air museum showcasing farm life from the Swabia area of Germany. And of course, there was some lovely embroidery on display as well. Mostly on household linens and mainly involving monogramming and whitework embroidery. How about these gorgeous Richelieu embroidered curtains featured in an inn?
If you would like to explore more of the 19th and 20th century embroidery on display at the museum in Illerbeuren, do have a look at my Flickr account: fairytale771978. I have also bought a brilliant book on buttons and will review that in an upcoming blogpost. Keep your eyes peeled!
In between family commitments, I sneaked in enough embroidery moments to complete my next #broderibox project. The broderibox is a monthly embroidery threads subscription put together by the lovely people of Nordic Needle. This month's box contained: five embroidery threads, beads and a purse clasp. Since the threads had a lot of browns in them; an ant sprang to my mind. Lucky for me, the amazing Millie Marotta has drawings of ants included in her colouring-in book 'Wild Savannah'.
As many of you probably know, canvaswork or needlepoint embroidery is stitched front to back. Or: object first, background later. Now be good and do not ever do that with your silk shading ;)! So, in this case, I started with my ant. She is called Truus de Mier, by the way. A favourite ant from a children's tv-show in the Netherlands. For Truus' body, I used a variegated perle #8 by Valdani. I really wanted to try this brand of embroidery threads. It worked a treat! No 'typical-low-grade-Eastern-European-Quality' here. As I wanted Truus to have a little 'body' to her body, I used the raised spot to fill it. As this stitch required me to pass 8-times through the same hole, I expected the thread to wear beyond pretty. But it didn't. They surely do know how to produce a fine perle in Romania!
Next up were Truus' legs. I stitched them in tent stitch and used both directions for different legs. This made the whole thing a little less tangled-up when legs crossed. The legs were stitched using Vineyard Silk shimmer. It is a silk thread with a shimmering filament added. It does not have a nice feel and it unfortunately stitched accordingly. A bit disappointing as I really liked the previous 100% silk threads by Vineyard Silk!
Apparently, ants have segmented legs that start with a bit of a bulky part. And ants have a mouth piece with which they cut leaves in handy transportable portions. Since this month's #broderibox had a violet Londonderry linen thread in it, I decided to use it to stitch these parts in cross-stitch. Lovely thread! I do stitch some whitework embroidery with linen threads and really love it.
That's Ms Truus de Mier sorted. On to the background. I decided to stitch the earth on witch Truus walks with Silk Lame Braid by Rainbow Gallery. Despite it being a silk thread mixed with metalized polyester and some rayon, it felt and stitched fantastically. Very well suited for the vertical Parisian stitch.
As the variegated cotton thread Watercolours by Caron had some blue in it, that was going to be turned into the sky. I separated the three plies and stitched the diagonal Cashmere stitch with one ply. I really love these cotton threads by Caron! They are so soft and hold up so well whilst stitching on canvas.
To finish my Truus de Mier, I decided that she needed a bright green stumpwork leaf. I wired a piece of dupion silk backed with calico. The buttonhole edging was stitched using a #12 House of Embroidery perle from my stash. I added the Mill Hill magnifica beads provided in the #broderibox to my leaf. Subsequently, I stitched a few beads onto Truus for an eye. And that's another #broderibox project finished satisfactorily!
P.S.: us dummies did take the camera with us to the Bunter Markt craft fair in Wessobrunn on Sunday, however, we forgot to take a picture of our stand... On the up-side, we did manage to sell two pendants and shed a few flyers and business cards!
Today I'll talk a bit about the 'behind-the-scenes' of my business Märchenhaftes Sticken. Although you can now find quite a few of these stories on the world wide web, there are still people out there who will be surprised to read that my days are not entirely spend embroidering beautiful things :). Seriously, I am not embroidering marvellous pieces most days. Instead, I usually see my Acer Aspire V more than I see my needles and threads. Now, don't start to feel sorry for me, because the other tasks that make up Märchenhaftes Sticken are mostly fun too! I'll promise. Just read on.
Take last Saturday for instance. We checked out the Paradies Hof in Wessobrunn-Forst. A lovely farm bistro in a gorgeous setting. They run a crafts market on Sunday the 21st of May called 'Bunter Markt'. I've never before presented my work at a local crafts market. However, I figured that it might be a cost-effective way to reach the locals. You see, my 'problem' is that I am very well able to reach the world through my website, this blog, Instagram and the like. BUT, I am not faring so well with local support for my business. This is largely due to the fact that my local people are not computer savy. Unfortunately, newspaper and magazine ads are quite pricey (think hundreds of Euros). And, running the risk of dispelling another myth, you don't make the kind of figures with a small embroidery business to be able to pay for such pricey marketing strategies :). Ten Euros for a table at the Bunter Markt is much more doable. Added bonus: I will meet other local makers! And, since the farm bistro prides itself on baking delicious cakes from local ingredients, we were obliged to try them too... Very hard to be me indeed.
Since I've never done anything like this, I need to prepare for my stand. Thanks to my lovely and inspiring fellow embroidery makers on Instagram, I have a fairly good idea what makes an attractive booth. So, apart from making more beaded pendants, I've asked my farmer landlord if he had some old drawers for me. Currently, they are sitting on a towel in my kitchen after they had a thorough encounter with a water hose :). Those of you who have come to visit me here at my studio on the Lötschmüller Farmstead, won't be surprised that he was able to turn up quite so many assorted drawers in such a short amount of time... Farmer Sepp Maier is a huge collector of anything and everything. And since he lives on a large farm, there is always an empty space which just shouts to be filled with another precious piece!
And then there is the amount of time I spend on my 'prevent-a-stitcher's-bum-program'. I am not sure the program entirely works as planned... But I love to be outdoors, clear my head, give my hands a rest and exercise the rest of me! Today we walked the Klosterweiherweg near Bernried. Apart from passing by these beautiful artificial fish ponds dating back to medieval times, we read some inspiring texts along the way. They were beautifully presented on stelae marking points of interest. Invigorated, I can now write this blog, compile my newsletter, think on what to do with my drawers, compile a list of places where I am allowed to lay out my new flyer, etc. Happy stitching!
Jessica M. Grimm
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