This chapter is a consolidation in stitch of work so far on this module. We were offered the choice of study between Shi-sha and Opus Anglicanum. As I’ve been doing a lot of historical reading lately I decided to immerse myself in the Opus Anglicanum study and work with the patterns and richness/ opulence of the textiles used for these embroideries.
I started off by selecting particular designs from the starch paste decorated papers worked earlier in this module, and then auditioned a set of silks organzas and sheers for each design.
This first design reminded me of the enormous cathedrals that were built in the 14th century with their passion for the modern arches.
The translation is quite literal and looking again at the two side by side it doesn’t have the power of the paperwork. I was conscious of using the stitch techniques of the time and so used a lot of couching.
I also tried to let the layers of fabric dictate the design, for instance there were threads of organza moving under the top layer of sheer, which I stitched down with seed stitch in gold thread and then followed the line more boldly with an elastic gold covered braid.
The next paperwork piece is very simple and I wanted to try a simple approach that would concentrate the eye on the undulating rhythms of the curves, a bit like the monks’s chants, but with a hidden frisson. So I stitched channels and then filled them with Madeira glissen.
The interpretation for this one was simple too, I saw it as an embroidery design as soon as I looked at the paperwork.
It’s machine couched silver braid using a wide zigzag over a grid of straight stitching, which was then zigzagged over several times to give a boundary to the piece. The background is a very lush piece of crushed velvet, the colour and the feel conjour up all kinds of images of historical opulence.
Some of the corners of the grid have been stitched with a scolloped pattern stitch to replicate the texture of the flour paste, and finally the right hand side has been stitched with a darning stitch representing the right had edge of the paper design.
I like the simplicity of this sample and the tension of the hard brittle thread with the volluptous look and feel of the fabric.
As you will see with this design, I’ve turned it through 180 degrees, as although I stitched it this way it felt more comfortable on the screen when I turned it around, maybe it’s the dominance of the blue.
I really feel that I’ve made headway with this one. I like the fact that I’ve been able to use the positive shapes that were cut away and couch them down in a contemporary style.
I feel it’s a big leap forward from the first sample. I’m pleased to have kept close to the original paperwork and yet given it a life of it’s own.
I think it probably has too many different elements involved, but it was very enjoyable to do and kept me thinking along the lines of how inventive l could be in my interpretation.
This last piece, which is my favorite and was done last after having gained experience from the other 4.
I had no idea how I would interpret the raised spirals on the paperwork, untill I spotted the elastic gold covered braid that I used for the first sample. Having laid one section in place on top of my layers of silk and sheer I thought it would work, but just couched down with gold metal thread wasn’t enough. So I started stitching over it in silk threads, tightly covering the gold but leaving it visible in places for that splash of light and luxury.
Next I started stitching in the flower backgrounds with Madeira machine embroidery thread and at the same time I laid a piece of yellow sheer over the centre to represent the paperwork.
Having been reading a lot of historical novels lately where the importance of beautiful embroidery has been woven into the story, I began to think of this sample a a patch with a life of it’s own and I started to feel very comfortable with the feel of the cloth over my fingers and the pull of thread in my hands.
A breakthrough indeed for someone who couldn’t stand hand sewing.