Yuhuu! I finally know when we are moving. It is all going to happen in the first half of next week. For the first time in my life, I will have a new kitchen. It even has something we won't use: a dishwasher. We are not dishwasher people. But I feel very grown-up now that I finally have one :). As the new apartment is about 32 sqm smaller than the current one, I have been sorting through everything I own. I was lucky to be able to find new homes for almost everything. Now is the final push. You'll get 50% off on my remaining embroidery kits and finished embroideries. Read on for details!
Over the years, I made many class models. Some were pretty enough and got framed and put up for sale. I also made some thread studies to get acquainted with needlepoint embroidery threads generally not available here in Europe. And I made some small embroideries in Schwalm and Stumpwork techniques to sell to tourists when I was still part of a local group of craftspeople. None of that is me anymore. So the remainder is up for sale. Anything not sold by midnight CET on the 7th of November will go to a charity shop.
After I have moved and have fully settled in my new surroundings, I will start developing new embroidery kits and courses. Both in-person and online. These will all be based on medieval techniques and historical examples. I have therefore decided to retire my petite needlepoint series of embroidery kits. These are full material kits with downloadable instructions. Instructions are available in English, Dutch and German. The winter version is even available in French. All kits contain hand-dyed full bobbins/skeins of silk and cotton threads by House of Embroidery and full packets of Mill-Hill beads. So even when you do not stitch the design, at half-price, the materials included are a steal! Any kits not sold by midnight CET on the 7th of November will be absorbed into my stash.
As always: the above as long as stock lasts! As my webshop checkout is not able to very precisely calculate shipping costs for multiple items, please do contact me when you get the feeling that you are overcharged (that's indeed mostly the case, it will not undercharge). In any case, regardless of what shipping costs are stated at the checkout, I will check that you get the best deal. It might also throw a tantrum when you try to buy a kit and an embroidery due to the downloadable instructions. Please put in two separate orders and I'll sort you out with a refund for the extra shipping costs.
A huge thank you to all who responded to last week's trestles and maschinenstock giveaway! All pieces have found good new homes and will be shipped as soon as the extra-large shipping boxes arrive. As with everything logistics nowadays this seems to take a bit longer than normal. Please be patient. And for now: let's visit some gorgeous medieval goldwork embroidery from Lausanne Cathedral and currently kept in the Bernisches Historisches Museum in Switzerland. When medieval embroidery is your thing, this is a museum you definitely want to visit. Apart from the vestments from Lausanne Cathedral and many others, the museum also has the Grandson antependium from the 13th-century on permanent display.
The set of golden vestments from Lausanne Cathedral consists of a cope (inv. 307, now on display), a chasuble (inv. 39) and two dalmatics (inv. 38 & 40). The embroidery was made between 1513 and 1517, probably in Brussels, Belgium. This expensive set of vestments made with Italian fabrics and very high-quality orphreys from the Low Countries was commissioned by Bishop Aymon de Montfalcon of Lausanne. Aymon clearly had deep coffers! As Mary is prominently displayed on many of the orphreys it becomes clear that the vestments were always intended for Lausanne Cathedral which is dedicated to Our Lady.
The design drawings on the linen underneath the embroidery were made with black and red ink. The correct shading is also indicated with the ink. There is not a full-colour drawing beneath these embroideries. It is more or less sparse monochrome-shaded drawing. Enough so the embroiderer was aided during his work, but not so strong that it obscured the weave of the linen fabric and made the actual embroidery harder. It is important for the embroiderer to still be able to see the weave of the fabric as the silk shading is more akin to Chinese silk shading (very orderly and counted) than it is to the type of silk shading taught at the Royal School of Needlework (which is random).
Although all orphreys on all four vestments clearly belong together and were thus made around the same time in the same place, they do differ slightly in the execution of the embroidery techniques. I am sure you can separate out several different embroiderers when you study these orphreys in depth. The designs also differ quite a bit stylistically and were clearly inspired by several contemporary painters such as Gerard David, Bernard van Orley and Cornelis Engebrechtsz.
Simple 'one saint' orphreys from the Low Countries often consist of two or more pieces sewn together: a separate saint appliqued onto an embroidered background (of which some very dimensional elements might also be slips). The more complex orphreys of the golden vestments are mostly worked as one piece with only some figures being worked as slips. This is probably easier (and thus quicker) when you have many partly overlapping figures in a single scene. The backs of the orphreys have been stiffened by gluing used paper onto them (letters, invoices, etc.).
Interestingly, true or nue is absent from these orphreys. Instead, most figures are stitched in a form of silk shading. The main figures in the foreground may have parts of their clothing stitched with goldthread. However, the horizontally laid goldthreads are couched in a bricking pattern using gold-coloured silks. The folds are accentuated with some simple line stitches in coloured silks. I have coined the term 'pseudo or nue' for this specific embroidery technique. It is often seen on orphreys from Germany, but rare on orphreys from the Low Countries. True or nue can create fantastic shading and suggest three-dimensionality. Pseudo or nue cannot achieve this. The floral frames around the orphreys are also unique. So far, I have not come across a similar pattern with coloured flowers. This might have been a trademark of this specific embroidery workshop.
If you would like to learn more about the golden vestments from Lausanne Cathedral then please buy the museum publication "Himmel und Hölle in Gold und Seide" by Annemarie Stauffer. There is also a French version available. The book has detailed pictures and descriptions of the orphreys of all four vestments. The introductory chapter is also very well written. You can order the book (22 Swiss Francs) directly from the museum shop by sending them an email. Please remember: when you order from the museum directly you help them financially. Something museums can really use after the many closures during the pandemic!
All gone; thanks!
In a couple of weeks, we will be moving from our current 90 sqm apartment to a smaller one of only 65 sqm. This means that I will no longer have an embroidery studio where people can come to learn to stitch. It also means that I have to let go of some embroidery-related inventory. On the upside, we are moving to an apartment right next to Ettal abbey where my husband works; no more commuting in the dark with snow. As the apartment is smaller, it is also cheaper. And it will soon be energy autark and more or less off the grid. Not a bad thing in times of soaring energy bills. In the meantime, I have trestles and a Swiss Maschinenstock for you!
When I ran the Rotterdam Royal School of Needlework satellite, I had four pairs of beech wood trestles made (height: 91 cm). Handily, they can be taken apart for shipping. You can get a pair for packaging + shipping costs only. This means that when you live in Germany, you'll only pay €18,49 for a pair of trestles. When you live elsewhere in Europe (sorry, I am not allowed to send them to the UK due to Brexit), you'll only pay €29,99. For the US it is €86,99, for Canada €60,99 and for Australia €70,99. This includes tracking.
And then I have my spare Swiss Maschinenstock (height: 96 cm, 28 cm hoop). These are traditionally used for Appenzeller whitework. Thanks to the ball joint, you can position the hoop any way you like. And it stays there. The hoop simply unplugs from the hole in the ball joint so that you can access the back. As the Maschinenstock is less heavy than a pair of trestles, the shipping costs are less too: €15,99 Germany, €24,99 Europe, €56,99 USA, €46,99 CAN and €54,99 AUS.
Giving away these four pairs of trestles and the Maschienenstock is on a first come first serve basis. If you are interested in acquiring one, please send me an email. I will then send you a PayPal invoice (sorry, I cannot accept credit cards, bank transfers or checks) with payment instructions. Your item ships as soon as the shipping boxes arrive (should only be a couple of days).
Last week, I attended the CIETA conference at the National Museum in Zurich, Switzerland. A direct train connection between Munich and Zurich made attending very easy. We had three days of excellent talks on archaeological and historical textiles and fibres. The topic ranged from Neolithic bark shoes to the medieval graves of bishops to Dharma transmission robes (Google this as it is fascinating!). On the fourth day, we had the possibility to attend one of four different excursions. I went to Bern and to Riggisberg to visit the Abegg Stiftung. More on that in next week's blog post. Let's start with the National Museum in Zurich. I discovered something familiar there!
But let's handle this in chronological order. Here you see a chasuble with an embroidered chasuble cross made in the last quarter of the 15th-century in the South of Germany. It was once part of the textile treasury of the Rheinau Abbey. Although now very damaged, the silk, gold, and pearl embroidery once must have been exquisite.
Damaged as it is, we can actually see the splendid underdrawing with monochrome shading. This would have helped the embroider fill in the design correctly. This chasuble cross is also a rare example in which the sunny spirals of the background have actually been drawn onto the fabric. By now, I have a feeling that when these sunny spirals are worked very regular and neat that there probably is an underdrawing present. When the sunny spirals are more haphazard, the embroiderer probably used the fingers as a measuring tool. Both approaches totally work but give slightly different results.
Although outside my scope of research, I also found this depiction of an embroiderer. It is part of a wall hanging made in 1601 in Konstanz or Eastern Switzerland. The lady depicted is Luiga Morrel who likely stitched the whole piece. She was a member of a wealthy family and decided to stitch her family members doing everyday chores.
And last but not least, I discovered another 17th-century linen vestment from Tyrol! The chasuble has those characteristic bold flowers stitched in flat silk. The stitch is a kind of Bayeux stitch, but with a twist. To achieve very sharp tips on leaves and petals, the laid silk is often sculpted into place with the couching stitches. If you would like to know more check out my blog post. And if you would like to learn even more and start stitching these beautiful silken flowers yourself, then please buy my eBook on linen vestments from Tyrol!
When archaeological textiles and fibres are your thing, do consider becoming a member of CIETA. You do need to send in a formal application, but I have been told that membership is almost never denied. It just takes a little bit of effort and time. The conferences are open to non-members as well. And honestly, I have attended many conferences throughout my academic career, but this one was by far the best ever. The participants were very kind, and everybody spoke to everybody. Students discussed with professors. Makers talked to researchers. And free-lancers spoke with curators of large collections. It was an amazing event!
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