Hammering of finished goldwork
Sometimes, medieval goldwork embroidery has been purposefully flattened after it was finished. This is for instance the case with the Kaisergewänder in Bamberg. Burnishing or hammering finished goldwork embroidery was probably done to enhance the smoothness of the surface to make it resemble gold leaf or goldsmithing work. Whilst the flattening is clearly visible on high-resolution pictures, and certainly revealed in a cross-section of the goldthread, we do not know how it was done. Did they burnish the finished surface with a rounded piece of bone? Did they actually hammer the threads flat? Time for an experiment:
Hmm, not at all the result I was expecting ... Is this due to the difference in materials? Or is there another way to flatten goldthreads? Or what if they used pre-flattened goldthreads (called flatworm) in the first place? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter! Please leave your comments below.
P.S. My husband and I are getting vaccinated this week! From today, Bavaria allows everyone, regardless of priority, to get vaccinated by their family doctor if they want to. Bittersweet: due to widespread vaccine-scepticism in our rural area, we got an appointment right away. Feeling immensely grateful!
Embroidery bits and bobs
A thing I'd like to draw your attention to: a couple of weeks ago, I did another podcast with Gary of FiberTalk. We talked about all kinds of medieval embroidery and how they were made. It has become a lively discussion with lots of interesting facts. The podcast was aired the Sunday before last and you can find it on the FiberTalk website.
As I can't show things on an audio podcast, I also produced a short FlossTube video. In the above video, I talk a bit more about how these late 15th/early 16th-century goldwork orphreys were made. It might surprise you, but this was mass-production. Don't forget to give me the thumbs up and please subscribe to my channel so you don't miss the notifications when a new video is uploaded. And I am already working on some interesting ones for this week! If you have a minute, please leave me a comment on this blog post with what you would like to see/learn in future FlossTube videos. Would you like me to demonstrate some actual medieval goldwork embroidery? Would you like me to talk about historical pieces? Or something else entirely? Over to you!
And last but not least, my husband repaired the older set of drawers in my studio. This meant that I had to empty all the little drawers first. Rather a good exercise! I found several goodies that have now found their way into my webshop. And I also found another packet of fabric dye and decided to dye some Zweigart 40 ct Newcastle and 46 ct Bergen a lovely lavender. Hurry, as this is a limited supply!
That's all for this week. I am working hard on the samples and research for my new eBook on goldwork embroidery. I have a feeling it is going to be a good one :).
As we are entering week six of the lock-down here in Bavaria, we can look forward to some restrictions being lifted a little in the near future. But we are a long way off normality. And I am not sure we will or want to go back exactly to how things were six weeks ago. For my part: I love the clear blue skies, the fresher air and the lower levels of noise. I really enjoy seeing and hearing more wild-life on our daily walks. But as a small business owner, I can't help but be worried. Will my business survive the storm? Will the small family businesses I order my embroidery supplies from, survive? Will my customers still have disposable income to spend on my products? That's why I decided to write a blog post on all the big and small things you can do to help small businesses during this pandemic and beyond!
As we cannot gather, find other ways to stay in touch with your favourite small businesses. If your favourite small businesses offer digital newsletters: sign up to them! This is a great way to stay up to date with what is going on. These newsletters can be opened and enjoyed when you want to! This is a great way to support small businesses for free. If you are not a subscriber yet, please follow this link to subscribe to my weekly newsletter.
Many small businesses have used the past few weeks to come up with new-to-them digital ways of staying connected with their community. I've started a FlossTube channel for which I make short videos on my medieval embroidery. This is my latest video on my last finish. Please subscribe to my channel, like my videos and leave comments. The Vimeo algorithm loves popular videos/channels and the more social interaction, the wider the reach, the more potential customers I can serve! Thank you very much for your support!
But, and I won't lie, it comes all down to this: buy from us regularly. As international parcel service is severely disrupted, please buy smaller items such as threads, my petite needlepoint kits, most goldwork supplies, fabric and needles and which can easily be put in a padded envelope. Yes, they take longer to reach you, but let's face it: most of us aren't going anywhere soon :). And most small creative businesses have a variety of digital downloads for purchase as well! These don't require any shipping as you can instantly download the PDF. Please browse my collection of embroidery patterns (goldwork, stupwork, crewelwork and Schwalm whitework) or my eBooks on 17th-century silk embroidery from Tyrol and my latest one on the long-armed cross-stitch. Every purchase is very much valued and the survival of my business depends on it now that I can't teach embroidery!
And last, but not least: your support has a knock-on effect. Small business owners tend to shop with small businesses themselves! Not only do I mainly sell products from small family businesses, but when I shop for groceries, household items or clothing, I am almost only buying from independent small businesses. The only exception: cat food and cat litter. When we tried to use an organic brand from our local organic store, Timmie and Sammie were sure we were trying to not so subtly kill them :). Above you see my latest purchase: a hand broom made from wood and horsehair by the last surviving authentic brush/broom binder in Germany. I've been purchasing high-quality brooms and brushes from Volker Kees for years. He is a travelling craftsman and we usually meet at open-air fairs here in the South of Bavaria. He has no website, but can be contacted by email. As I was pretty sure that he struggles to sell his products now that all fairs have been cancelled, I sent him an email and a couple of days later this functional beauty arrived.
Supporting small businesses is something I have been firmly integrating into my life over the past few years. If you did not already do so: please take this pandemic as an excuse to start doing the same. You'll be surprised at how much impact your purchases have!
FlossTube with the Acupictrix
As the lock-down here in Bavaria, and indeed elsewhere, continues till at least the 19th of April, my embroidery courses at the open-air museum Glentleiten and the stumpwork course here in my studio had to be cancelled. Unfortunately, teaching is literally my bread-and-butter. Over the past two weeks, I have been looking into other avenues of promoting my embroidery business and making up for the financial downturn. One project will be another eBook. It will be on a little-known counted medieval embroidery technique with huge potential. I hope to be able to release it next week. The other project underhand is starting a FlossTube channel on medieval embroidery. The second episode is now up:
In these short videos, I'll talk about a specific aspect of medieval embroidery. In the first one, we explore the name acupictrix and the Babylonian confusion regarding the word 'embroidery' in Greek and Roman written sources. If you have missed it, you can watch it below. In the second episode, I'll show you how to search a fantastic online catalogue of medieval (textile) art in the Netherlands. It contains many high-resolution pictures of embroidery which you can download and use freely as long as you cite the source.
I am currently working on the third episode in which we will explore the rich silken fabrics used for these magnificent medieval goldwork embroideries. Please subscribe to my channel, give me the thumbs up and help me to promote my business. These are crazy times and we will only make it if we support one another. Thank you!
P.S. Did you like this blog article? Did you learn something new? When yes, then please consider making a small donation. Visiting museums and doing research inevitably costs money. Supporting me and my research is much appreciated ❤!
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