As I wrote before, I am taking Tricia's class 'Cabinet of Curiosities' to learn more about 17th century embroidery techniques. In the end, I am hoping to successfully recreate an embroidered casket. The first supplies have arrived; amongst which is a small trinket box to practise on. You can see all the yummy contents of the first kit in the picture below:
All these lovely colours of silk threads and the fabulous silk fabrics make me want to dive straight into making my casket! However, I've only just finished the second lesson of 18 in total. My current homework consists of coming up with a design for my casket. Easy peasy. What better than to use scenes from my favourite historical novel: De leeuw van Vlaanderen by Hendrik Conscience? A totally over the top romantic, historically inaccurate account of the battle of the golden spurs in AD 1302. It has everything: beautiful lady, mysterious knight, good king, evil queen, brave citizens. Combine this with my fantastically graphically talented husband and the design for my double casket is as good as nailed :)!
At about the same time my cabinet of curiosities kit arrived, the above book arrived as well: The stumpwork masterclass by Alison Cole. It is the first ever embroidery book I've read from cover to cover. Normally, I flick through embroidery books and read parts of it here and there, even out of order and skip those parts not of immediate interest. Not with this one. It sucked me right in. And got me very excited. It sparked so many ideas in my head. So many 'oh-I-need-to-try-thats'.
As you can see from the above sneak peek, the book isn't a step-by-step instruction on how to do stumpwork. It isn't a starting point for the novice embroiderer either. As the cover says, it truly is a Masterclass. With lots of detailed photographs of modern pieces by Alison and historical pieces as well. Each chapter takes on a design element rather than a technique. You'll have people, animals, flowers & leaves, skies, fillings & signatures, grounds, trees, birds, grottoes & fountains, buildings, bugs and borders. Interspersed with chapters on the history of stumpwork, padding techniques and needle lace. Alison both describes the techniques per design element found on historic pieces and how you can give a more modern twist to these elements. As not all historical threads are readily available, she even provides recipes on how to make your own silk wrapped purls, wire wrapped silks, silk gimp and flattened spirals.
Only reading about embroidery, however good the book or course materials are, is a bit dull in the end. So, when Tricia announced a new needlework nibble on her blog, I jumped right in. Apparently, those embroidered caskets held casket toys. Wired animals, poseys and whatnots. The snake was great fun to make and the techniques remind me of those used in traditional Klosterarbeiten. Do follow the link to the snake tutorial and have a go. Browse Tricia's blog for more casket toys and a contest on making your own, which she is hosting.
As I am taking a blogging break in August, I've packed this post full of links to tide you over until September. Time for me to host family visits and to work on new embroidery kits and workshops. Have a lovely summer and please join me again in a couple of weeks' time!
Before I'll tell you about two upcoming course possibilities here in Bad Bayersoien, let's take a look at some 'work in progress'. Remember Ellen and Elisabeth who did a crewelwork embroidery course way back in January? They have graciously allowed me to share their progress with you all.
First up is Ellen her piece. The design was made up of all things 'crewel' Ellen came across and liked. Eclectic, colourful, vibrant and fun. Perfect for trying out many different stitches and colour combinations. The shading on the green leaves of the pink and coral flower has been worked very nicely!
Next up is Elisabeth's piece. She used a designer piece of jungle wall paper as her design source. Her piece takes a modern approach on Jacobean crewel as she incorporates stumpwork elements and beads. Below is a detail of the pomegranates.
I love both pieces and think the ladies have made great progress! Five days are too nearly always short to finish a piece of embroidery. This blog is a great way of keeping track of each other's progress; especially as both ladies live 675 kilometres apart.
Want a bit of embroidery bliss yourself? Then why not join me for one of my upcoming courses? From Monday the 5th of September until Friday the 9th of September I'll run a canvas (needlepoint) course. During the course you will create a colourful masterpiece on canvas. You will have the choice between creating an embroidery with different threads, ribbons and pearls using many different stitches. Or would you rather stitch a classical Berlin Wool piece using tent stitch? One way or the other, the result will be a true eye-catcher. Nice too: this course is well suited for newbies!
From Monday the 31st of October until Friday the 4th of November I'll run a stumpwork course. True to the motto: "anything goes", you will create a three-dimensional embroidery with freestanding elements, needle lace and textured stitches. Use unusual materials and be inspired by the naturalistic pieces created by Jane Nicholas from Australia or 17th century originals.
There are many accommodation options available locally. During lunch break, I'll put bread, spreads and a hearty soup on the table. Wouldn't it be lovely to join me and others for a week-long relaxed embroidery adventure? As bookings are coming in and places are limited, do book your place today!
As promised in last week's post, here's an update on St. Laurence. As we did not have many visitors due to the lovely sunny weather, I was able to put in quite a few stitches. This is what he looks like after 42 hours of stitching:
I've taken the picture at an angle as this conveys the shimmering of the gold threads best. Below is a picture of my work station with a printed copy of the medieval original.
I am not trying to make an exact copy of the original medieval piece. One of the things I didn't like for instance, was this blotched up area under his right arm:
It just doesn't seem right to me. And since I am in charge; I've changed it. (To not hurt Laurence's feelings, I consulted with him first. He's a big boy and quite alright). As you can see comparing the original picture above and the picture at the top of this post, I've decided to separate the lower arm/hand from the body. This not only eliminates the ugly triangular area (I'll work a continuation of the background there), but it also means that I can work the hand directly onto the linen. Laurence's other hand (holding the book) is worked over the gold threads. Quasi ignoring them. That's a daunting task coming up much too soon...
Today marked the start of my first week at the Pilatushaus in Oberammergau. I will be demonstrating goldwork embroidery every day from 13:00 till 18:00 hours until coming Sunday. If you are in the area, do come in as I would love to meet you! For those of you living too far away, here are some pictures of my snug corner on the first floor.
It is also the first time I am actually selling some of my work: embroidered necklaces. AND: I sold one within the first hour. Sitting here behind my laptop with a very big grin on my face :).
My corner is rather quiet with lots of good natural day light, but no direct sunlight. Perfect for some goldwork stitching. Although, is it goldwork? Today I was told that this particular piece is actually needlepoint. Don't you love these self-proclaimed needlework experts? This lady gave me a very good chuckle. Especially as, after I explained to her what type of embroidery this is, she maintained that it looks just like needlepoint. Me and Saint Laurence are still chuckling!
Jessica M. Grimm
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