As many of you may remember, I started Tricia Nguyen's 18 month online class last year: Cabinet of Curiosities. The aim of this course is to learn almost all there is to know about 17th century embroidered caskets and then to design and stitch your own. Last year, I completed lesson one and two and then LIFE interrupted and I had to put the project on hold. Since the village shop is now up and running and I've taken the decision to quit volunteering 'here-there-and-everywhere', 2017 will be the Year of the Casket.
A short recap of what I had done so far in 2016. I picked a theme for my casket. Ever since I was given the historical novel De Leeuw van Vlaanderen of de Slag der Gulden Sporen by my parents, I've read it and re-read it many times. It is highly romantic and not too historically correct. Think Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I had also picked the casket shape I wanted to embroider. As I am not in a hurry and want to live to at least a 120, I picked the largest one on offer: the double casket. I also made this nice chap: a bullion snake. They were common 'toys' found in the caskets.
Then late in 2016, Tricia published a series of articles on her blog about 'casket-decision-making'. Apparently, caskets can be used as URNS. Now that's an interesting idea. As most of you probably know, I am a trained archaeozoologist and love to play with bones! A common misunderstanding is that, when you are cremated you end up all ashes as by magic. Oh no. They'll put your burnt remains through a grinder to create these perfect uniform ashes. Not so in ancient times. Our ancestors respected our individuality and had a heart for future archaeologists. Burnt bone remains are a treasure trove of information. With a bit of luck, your burnt remains can still tell if you are a boy or a girl, your ethnicity, how tall or small you were and if you had any bone-related pains and aches. Fascinating stuff, don't you think?
As you might have guessed by now, my casket is going to be my urn. No worries, I am in no hurry to try it out anytime soon. But I must admit, I start to chuckle any time I start thinking about my memorial service in 2098 :).
So how do I proceed now? It is time to start designing my casket. There are many panels which I can fill with scenes out of the novel. So far I am thinking: hunting scene, maid Mechteld & knight Adolf van Nieuwland, mortally wounded Adolf van Nieuwland, Count Gwydde and his knights in front of Queen Joan I of Navarre and the battle scene. In order to do that, I started listening to the audiobook version as found on Librivox. This is a great source of free audiobooks in over 30 languages. Perfect to listen to when you are stitching. When I listen to each chapter, I have a notepad to hand to jot down any major characters, the place of action and other tiny things like the flora and fauna the author mentions. I can then easily compose a panel design with the historical motifs Tricia has provided. I will also ask my husband to tweak them a little here and there to make them unique. As I might have inspired some of you with my casket-turns-urn idea, I do want to make sure my urn turns out truly unique!
In between, I have also uploaded 150+ pictures of my visit to the Bavarian National Museum onto my Flickr account. I've made an album on fashion and one with vestments. Enjoy!
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Jessica M. Grimm
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