Pope Francis: part II
I originally made the drawings for this new goldwork project at the end of September last year. But with the China teaching trip and the holiday season, I hadn't really started in earnest. As I want to include this piece in my first solo-exhibition in August, it became about time to seriously make a start. My first attempt was so 'enthusiastically', that I decided to pull it all out, flip my slate frame and start again. What had happened? My design transfer was just rubbish. As I have only a small light-box, transferring larger designs demands attention. The kind of attention to detail you don't have when you really, really want to start :). The good thing about starting again: the flipped slate frame! Most people probably don't know that you can use a slate frame upside-down; just like the Chinese embroiderers do. It comes with two big advantages. First: your arm rests on the horizontal bar of your slate frame rather than on your embroidery. Secondly: the horizontal bars of your slate frame prevent spools of thread from rolling off your frame. But beware: the second point might tempt you into putting much more onto the frame than is beneficial for the tension of your embroidered piece...
This is what Pope Francis currently looks like. As we have had so much snow with the accompanying dark skies, couching silver coloured Japanese threads with two shades of white and two shades of grey is very hard on your eyes. That's why I decided to work the figure of Pope Francis and the background simultaneously.
What materials and techniques have I used so far? The figure of Pope Francis is created with or nue. This means that I am using pairs of silver coloured Japanese Thread #8 and couch them down with a single thread of DeVere Yarns six-fold (120 denier) silk. I am using Crystal, Lily, Cloud and Foil. His shoes were stitched with satin stitch using a single strand of a stranded silk by the Silk Mill colour Black Alder. I embroidered the fringes on the fascia with Turkey rug stitch using DeVere Yarns 18-fold (360 denier) tightly twisted silk colour Hessian. After all the or nue has been done, I will add pearls for the buttons and I will define some folds by couching a separate metal thread on top. Much as I did with St. Laurence.
As mentioned in my first blog post on this new goldwork project, I am modelling the background on an existing late-Medieval orphrey from the Netherlands. I started by putting in the tiled floor. For the tiles I used four colours of Chinese flat silk: two greens and two reds. Using the darker shades in the back creates a sense of depth. The tiles are stitched with a simple satin stitch following the grain of the fabric. Then I couched a single strand of Gilt smooth passing #5 on top using the matching colour of silk. Last but not least, I embroidered the grout with small chain stitches using two strands of the Silk Mill Black Alder. I had learned from St. Laurence to don't leave too big a space for the figure, that's why bits of the tiling will be covered by the figure.
The small areas of blue sky at the top of the orphrey were embroidered using light-blue Chinese flat silk and long-and-short stitch. Evenly spaced single threads of Gilt smooth passing #5 were couched down on top using the same silk. Since late-Medieval embroiderers mainly worked in commercial workrooms, efficiency was important. Plunging threads? Far too time consuming! Just add a few more anchoring stitches at the end and just snip off the metal thread. In addition, metal threads would frequently continue to run underneath silk embroidery. Securing and snipping off takes more time than just stitch over them. I wondered how far you can take this approach :). The small bright-green turrets were just perfect candidates to try this out. I satin stitched the turrets with Soie Ovale by Au ver a Soie #0199. Then I added an outline of chain stitches using the Silk Mill Black Alder. You wouldn't know that there is passing thread running beneath them!
As this blog post is getting rather long, we will talk about the windows and the padding for the screen behind the figure in a future blog post. I will group all blog posts concerning this goldwork project under the category 'Pope Francis' for quick future reference.
Thank you Janet! As I do with your panel featuring Bubbledom :)
Thank you Catherine! But it is a little crazy too...
So beautiful and what a lovely treasure you are creating. Your work inspires me.
Thank you Sarah! Regarding the Jap #8, I am looking into a new manufacturer and hope to have it back in store in the next couple of weeks.
Hi from sunny and hot South Africa. I so love your work, and can't wait for progress reports! But I'm just a little curious - why are you couching "a single strand of Gilt smooth passing #5 on top using the matching colour of silk"? I guess that comes from the other embroidery to which you referred - it just intrigues me! But maybe all will be revealed with your next progress blog! You encourage me to pick up one of my goldwork wips and get going again! Many thanks.
Thank you Maureen! We are still deep in snow here :). Yes, the extra gold on top of the silk satin stitches comes indeed from the original 16th century piece. They sure loved their bling back then!
Jessica, I have just listened to your 'Fibre Talk' and want to tell you how very much I enjoyed it. It was lovely to hear you. I have followed your blog for some time now and always find them thoughtful and enjoyable.
Thank you for your support Erica! I removed Facebook as well for the same reasons you did. And luckily we see a trend, at least in the Netherlands, that more people do this. Especially VIPs. But in many other parts of the world Facebook is still growing. Thank you for allerting me to the problem with Pinterest. I see many copyright violations on the site; especially regarding embroidery patterns. I try very hard not to re-pin copyrighted content. As I don`t use Pinterest personally, I have never come across sexual images. Unfortunately, as a business, I need some form of social media. I wish it wasn`t so, but alas I do. Pinterest for now seems the less harmful. But I`ll read up on this issue and will monitor carefully!
I really love this style of medieval work you do Jessica, and hope to one day be lucky enough to meet you and see it in person! I admit my very small foray into or nue found me not enjoying the technique however I am deteriorating try it again as I ended up throwing my first attempt away in disgust of the quality of my work. May I ask if you couch each row before adding the coloured threads (as were the instructions I was reading from), or do you couch and change colour simultaneously? I found it difficult to get the rows to sit together nicely if I couched first and then coloured in the row and wondered if I should ditch the brick work couching altogether. I’m looking forward to seeing this develop and I hope you aren’t suffering from the cold too much!
Meeting in person would indeed be lovely Catherine! Regarding the or nue; I don't do the bricking before the actual shading. You couch and shade at the same time. Hope that helps!
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