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!
Jessica M. Grimm
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