New design for an (online) class
A couple of years ago, I saw the so-called Wolfgang's chasuble at the Diocesan Museum Regensburg (you can read my blog about my 2015 visit). It had this lovely embroidered cross with birds and a four-legged animal amidst scrolling foliage. Although the goldwork embroidery is quite damaged, it is clear that it was once a very high-quality piece of medieval goldwork and silk embroidery. Its design would make for a lovely (online) embroidery class. I've asked my husband to clean up one of the bird designs and this is what he came up with.
The original embroidery was made shortly after AD 1050, probably in Regensburg. A royal residency at the time, Regensburg likely housed the royal workshops when the court was in residence. The way this embroidery, and indeed the whole garment, was made differs markedly from most contemporary pieces. Those pieces are usually all over embroidered and the embroidery is directly worked onto a precious silken fabric or a linen fabric. Good examples of these are the Imperial Vestments, the Uta chasuble and the vestments from Saint Blaise now held in St. Paul im Lavanttal. Many heyday Opus anglicanum vestments also fall into this category. Not so Wolfgang's chasuble. This one has a strip of separately worked embroidery adorning the precious silken vestment. This would become the way forward for the rest of the medieval period and beyond. It is essentially the birth of the orphrey. These smaller pieces of embroidery were far more manageable and could be prepared in advance. Goldwork embroidery could move out of the specially equipped royal workshops and into, probably smaller and simpler, commercial workshops in the emerging towns.
But we can clearly tell that the process of 'how to make an orphrey' was not yet set in stone. In this case, the embroidery seems awfully complex when it comes to its backing fabrics. What had the embroiderer done? It started with a piece of natural coloured silk twill/samite on top of a fine linen. All goldwork embroidery (and probably the stem stitch outlines) was worked that way. Then the piece was backed again with an extra layer of linen before the fine silken split stitches were worked. Curious don't you think? I was told that you back your embroidery when the stitching is particularly heavy. That would be the goldwork and not the silk. Just imagine the sore fingers from pushing a fine needle with silk through three layers of fabric... But I have an idea why the extra layer of linen was added: stiffness. Later, orphreys were routinely backed by gluing recycled paper on the back or simply stiffening the back with a layer of glue.
As I am trying to get hold of the right-ish kind of fabrics for this project, I cannot tell you yet when this design will become available. What I can tell you is that it will be a pre-recorded class that you can work at your own pace. You can start whenever you like, and you will have access to the class videos for at least a whole year from the date of purchase. The class fee will include a full kit. You will have various kit options to choose from. This mainly involves different qualities of gold threads. I will also likely teach this design as a weekend-long class at Glentleiten Open Air Museum next year. How does that sound? Do let me know in the comments, please!
Oh, that would be so nice to have a bit more detail on the components of the glue. Unfortunately, as far as I know, this is not stated in the available literature. I imagine, they could have used bone glue or wheat paste.
The lack of information in soooo frustrating. In Slovenia, they stiffened the headgear with glue, but the ladies who embroider "hauben" don't know or don't want to share. Uhhhh
Oh, that's so frustrating! Have you tried asking the Austrian or South-German ladies? They use glue too. Maybe you can find some information here: https://www.goldhauben-bezirk-perg.at/
This sounds like a lovely project, and I would be interested.
Thank you for letting me know, Robin!
Hi Jessica, I would love to do one of your courses and online seems manageable. Just wondering about the materials that I could get over here in UK. Don't think it would be cost effective for you posting me a kit.
Thank you for your encouragement, Katherine! Unfortunately, I cannot accept payment from people in the UK due the new Brexit regulations on VAT, sorry! And you would not be able to get the materials in the UK; they are simply not available. That's why all my classes always come with a full kit.
I am really excited about this class proposal. I t sounds so very interesting. Can’t wait to learn more about it.
Thank you, Ginger!
I would be interested in an online self paced class
Thank you for letting me know, Melody!
Great idea. I would love this class. I hope you would consider adding a weekly Zoom for 1-2 weeks so we could talk about the project. Chat and pre-recorded are just not the same thing.
Thanks, Darcy! No, it will not contain a Zoom meeting. These get mostly poorly attended as people are so busy.
I just read your article in Artizan Made. In modern times few appreciate hand made or the needle arts. I am always asked “what will you do with it?” Or, as you, how much/how long? Few appreciate the hours of practice to develope the skills . I know that my family is more likely to keep an Afghan that I knitted rather than any of my fine work embroidery or Goldwork pieces. So I simply say I enjoy this and I add a little beauty to the world.
Very true, Darcy!
I would be interested in this class also.
Thank you for letting me know, Christine!
My first thought reading this text was "I want to Germany", or, to be precise, "I want to Bavaria". I had tickets to Nuremberg in May 2020, but Covid happened. Now I hope to visit Nuremberg, Munich or Bamberg next year (I guess, you can say, what I want to see). But this not so big project would be a great piece to do while waiting for my visit to Bavaria.
Sounds like a good plan, Agne!
It was a good plan in 2020 too :D I had to celebrate my birthday in Nuremberg, but I was spending my days at home with no hopes to travel... But I am still planning :D
Your online course is very tempting.
Thank you, Marie-Renee! Yes, I ship world-wide with the exception of the UK due to very difficult post-Brexit VAT regulations.
Helen Sewell Johnson
I'd love another online class with you but would especially like one that includes Zoom meetings. The interactive parts are much better than those without Zoom. It is easier to ask questions.
Thank you, Helen! However, this is going to be a pre-recorded self-paced class without Zoom. After two years of relentlessly chasing students if they please would be so kind to attend the Zoom classes, I have had enough. Sorry!
What amazes me most is that glue was used very successfully back then, but then people got it so wrong during older conservation attempts.
Love that bird motif! I’m interested in your online class with a kit of materials. Sorry to hear about your past problem with zoom session attendance. I always enjoyed being able to see and talk with you and fellow students in real time, but I also understand why you choose not to have that component in your online class.
Thank you, Victoria!
I would be interested in this new class. I loved Medieval Goldwork and I like the idea of the work at your own pace.
Thank you, Ann!
Helen Sewell Johnson
I'd love another online class with you, A Zoom meeting or two would make it much more enticing. You already have the necessary cameras and equipment for that. Zoom classes offer much more possibility for learning from other students as well as the teacher and for exchanging ideas Even if some do not attend, the ones that do get a great deal from the meetings.
Sorry, Helen, not this time. I know that you are one of the very few people who always show up. And I am grateful for that!
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