måndag 26 januari 2015

Embroidery madness strikes!

This New Year´s I stepped up as Guild Head of the Dragon´s needle embroidery Guild, and started a Facebook-group for us so that we can share projects, ideas, tips and tricks and inspire eachother. Well, it for sure seems to do the trick on my behalf. That, and getting to visit Petronilla in Germany and looking through some awesome books, museums and such.

I have embroidered like mad since I got home! And mostly for myself (and the family). The first project is going to be a cushion for me, with the elements of my heraldic arms (within the SCA that is), the green sun on golden background and the three golden acorns on green background. I wanted to try some appliqué and had some very nice wool at home, meant initially for a miparti-dress that never happened (the wool is a bit too heavy for a dress). First I cut all the pieces, using small paper patterns for the sun and acorns. Then I stitched all the pieces onto the ground fabric with thin linen thread and then finished it with strengthening edging in thicker linen thread in white, as can be seen in some period examples. When all the patches were done, they were pressed with a hot iron with a damp cloth inbetween, and they shaped beautifully.
Then it was assembly time, I sew the patches together with overcast stitches, small ones, they were folded out and pressed again and then on to the next patches. This was also done with the thin linen thread. And it was a very neat little project to bring with me while traveling, so my fellow train passengers looked a little puzzled for a while. No one dared ask me what I was making though, sadly. I have been getting into really interesting discussions with other travelers on other occasions, both on the long ferry rides to the mainland and on boring trainrides across the mainland.

As all the patches were assembled I started cutting thin strips of the gilded leather in order to cover the seams. And since the leather is rather stretchy you do not need to cut it in straight lines, you can follow the natural curve of the hide and it will still shape nicely when stitched down.
The leather strips were sewn down with a rather tight overcast stitch with linen thread covering the seams. Now I just need to cut some backing and make it all into that soft and pretty little cushion to
sit on. I am pondering either a nice leather so it will stand some wear, or a nice wool. 

Done with that I moved on to try something completely different, the freehand blackwork (or in this case dark green...). Immensly inspired by a post by a very talented member in the Historic Hand Embroidery group I decided to stitch a little owl for the eldest son. He asks for a sewing kit of his own for his upcoming eight birthday and I wanted to make a pincushion. He loves owls, specifically Harry Potter´s owl, so the motif came naturally. This is made in stemstitch in silk on linen and I drew the little critter free hand.

For the back I took some leftover green wool from my heraldic project and stitched it together and then I covered the seams with some reversed chain stitch in bright yellow silk. I hope he will like it!

And this technique was so much fun that I decided to fulfill my promise to the youngest son and make him a linen bag for his water bottle, so that I will allow him to bring it to events. One has to give them something to keep it all fun and interesting. And for this project I even tried my centereyed embroidery needles and it works beautifully! More updates to come when this is all done.

tisdag 6 januari 2015

Kruselers - sewn or woven?

There are so many kruselers out there, differing in looks and most likely also in technique. Following up on my last blogpost here comes some thoughts on construction of the less elaborate kruselers, mostly seen in 15th Century art. Some say they must all be woven frilled edges. However, there seems to be exceptions.
Mary from "The Deposition" by Rogier van der Weyden, 1435.
Here we see a clear example of what must be a woven frilled edge and it is looking the same through most of Rogier van der Weyden's art. This is obviously an expensive and exclusive fabric, woven by professionals, and you can find it recreated today, but it is costly. Just how exclusive it was can be shown also in the fact that Jesus loin cloth is depicted as frilled, from the time he was wrapped as a baby until his death.
Epitaph for Konrad Winkler and his wives Kundigunde and Adelhaid, Nürnberg 1431.
The same simple frill can also be used in more elaborate styles by simply using it in multiple layers.
Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (detail) 1434 by Jan van Eyck
Detail from St. John Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden, 1455 - 1460
The same frilled fabric also seems to be in use in the German styles of late 15th Century, pressing on to the fashions of 16th Century. Here we see one of many examples where it is combined with a vulst.
Portrait of a woman from the Hofer Family, artist unknown, ca 1470
Frills are also in use in Burgundy, England and France, although adapted to the local headdress fashion. 
Portrait of Mary of Burgundy wearing a small frill under her hennin.
Portrait of a young woman, possibly Anne de Dreux, ca 1490.
And by now you are starting to wonder if I will ever get to the point. Where there possibly exceptions from the woven frill in plain single rows? I did find some beautiful frills that do give the impression of having a seam connecting it to the veil, even though it is a single frill when visiting the Germanisches National Museum in Nürnberg on New Years. And they are from the 14th Century, not the 15th. 
Mary, from Frauenkirche in Nürnberg, ca 1360

Female statue from a church in Nürnberg ca 1360.
And in case you now are wondering the artform might have an impact on how the frills are depicted, here is another one in stone, clearly without the line that I would like to interpret as a seam. Same church and same period as the first one.
Statue from the south portal av the Frauenkirche in Nürnberg, ca 1360.

So one can not state, in my opinion, that frills were only woven when done in single rows and simpler styles. Good to know, now I will not have to spend like half a month´s salary on a frilled veil, I can make one myself. Even though I really really like one that is woven.