Sunday, November 11, 2018

St Eligius Entry

This weekend,  I went out of my comfort zone and after 13 years, entered St Eligis Arts and Science competition.  I entered an Italian Assisi redwork embroidered hand towel  or "napkin" as they called them. It was from the 1500s. It is a work in progress because as a friend is fond of saying, "Embroidery always takes twice as long as you estimate it will" and she is correct!

I was very nervous about entering because of a past bad experience in a competition, but I bit the proverbial bullet and threw my hat into the ring.  Here are pictures i took and I will copy and paste my documentation in for further reading.

This is my entry set up at St Eligius.

Cell phone shot while working on it.

another cell shot at 1am the day before of the stopping point.





A photo of me at my spot someone took of me.


Documentation papers from St Eligius:


St Eligius 12 Question Contest Documentation

What did you make or do?
I am currently working on an Italian embroidered hand towel inspired by an extant piece in the Victoria and Albert museum.

What is the connection between your entry and a medieval item or practice?
I am creating an Italian persona for myself and want to have feast linens for myself.

How would your entry have been made/done in period?
The detail work on the towel/napkin that inspired me was actually a separate piece that was woven and then stitched onto the linen towel, then the hem was created and trimmed with red stitching. However there are other extant pieces that show the linen being directly embroidered on.

How was yours made/done?
I am embroidering directly onto white linen with a counted stitch pattern using Splendor Twisted Silk 12 strand embroidery thread, two strands, color number 0822.

What are some similarities and differences in materials, process, tools, approach?
The silk that would have been used on the piece at the museum would have been stranded silk. I am using twisted silk thread for durability, also it was what I had in my stash already.

What inspired you?
Two pieces from history inspired me. The pattern came from a “cover” that is at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I found a pattern already charted very similar to this one in the New Carolingian Modelbook and am using that. The other piece that inspired me is the towel also at the V&A with a woven band of embellishment.

What was your favorite part of preparing your entry?
I love to embroider. I have always been a lover of counted work (except when I miscount and have to pick out stitches). Blackwork is one of my favorite embroidery styles to execute as well. So with creating an Italian persona having a feast gear linen set made for my persona was an appealing idea.

What would you do differently next time?
I would invest in stranded silk to execute the embroidery to make it more accurate to the original pieces.

What references or sources would you recommend to someone interested in your work?
The V&A has a large collection of embroideries and this is where I found wonderful images of redwork.
https://www.artic.edu/artworks/2295/cover (cover with the embroidery pattern)



Image of woman with embroidered towel on shoulder.
Towel/Napkin from V&A Museum, 1500 Italy






How did you find your sources of information?
I found images, paintings and inspirations mainly through internet research as well as a few books in my collection.

  • Assisi Embroidery by Jos Hendriks ISBN 9082190028
  • New Carolingian Model Book by Kim Brody Salazar ISBN 0964208229

Did you find a connection to a medieval artisan or owner while working on your entry?
I have always loved embroidering. My mother taught me when I was a small child and have progressed through the years from cross stitch to free embroidery and after I found the SCA 26 years ago, now researching techniques done through out history and doing my best to recreate them as accurately as possible. Recreating the embroidery from pieces in history gives me an idea of what it was like all those years ago. Modern day conveniences such as electric lights, machined metal needles and threads and magnifying glasses give me an advantage that they did not have then. I have, for the sake of curiosity, tried embroidering by candle light with a large glass vase filled with water to act as a magnifier but it proved quite difficult with my already aged vision. I imagine embroidering that way caused eye sight to deteriorate more quickly over the years.

Any last thoughts or amusing stories about your work?
A fellow friend who also embroiders once told me “Embroidery always takes twice as long as you think it will”. As always, she is right. Even though I allotted what I thought was a generous amount of time to finish this project prior to the event, I did not allot enough. The tight linen I chose, even with reading glasses, was sometimes difficult to count and mistakes were made that required stitches to be removed thus delaying completion.



Internet Research Web Site Links:






Image References:








Close up of Towel/Napkin at V&A Museum, 1500 Italy








Cover” Showing cross stitch pattern Inspiration




While I most likely will not enter another competition, I did learn quite a bit while sitting for this one. I wanted to thank everyone that stopped by and gave suggestions or compliments at my work.

Banner and Favor

100% Silk banner and favor. Silk dupioni from The Silk Baron and Splendor silk embroidery thread were used to create this banner and favor for a friend.
The bear and trees were embroidered in split stitch and stem stitch for outlining. Then the green silk was appliqued onto the white background silk and a blanket stitch was done on the ends to tack them down.



Small silk favor

Close up of banner

full shot of banner

Pennsic Mayor Hood

A commission piece I was recently asked to create. The mayor of this past Pennsic asked me to create a hood with the Pennsic Mayor coat of arms on it. I made a viking hood with the arms embroidered than appliqued onto the front. Its a nice open weave linen for hot pennsic weather.


Split stitch and stem stitch done in DMC cotton threads


Kyle was kind enough to model for me.

Dagmar wearing the gifted hood.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Heraldic Napkins


For investiture this past weekend, I also made a couple of embroidered napkins for the Baron and Baroness who were stepping down. On the corner of a cotton napkin, I embroidered their coat of arms. They were given by the incoming Baron and Baroness as part of a gift basket to them. These are stitched with silk splendor embroidery thread. 






Sunday, October 28, 2018

Heraldic Banner

Yesterday, My protege sister and her husband were invested as the new Baron and Baroness of Concordia of Snows in Scotia NY.  A few months prior, they asked me if I would make them a two sided banner with their coat of arms. She showed me one picture:






This is the coat of arms for the Duke of Savoy in the 14th century.  This standard only measures to be roughly 8" x 10". I decided, with consultation that theirs should be a tad bit bigger. She stated she wanted both of their arms created into a banner in the same fashion as this one.  So, I decided to do a bit of research (GASP!!!) and try to make it as accurate as possible.  Their coat of arms are these:



 I looked at many online to see what they were made of and their size.

15th C Banner of the Catholic Monarchs

Burgundy Flag 1474-76




1476-77 Burgundy Banner


Embroidered and Appliqued heraldic banner at the Museum Miltenburg, Germany


Though many of the banners I looked into were painted, there were a few that were appliqued and embroidered. Well..this is right up my alley.

The banner I made is constructed of black and white linen and silk embroidery and sewing thread.
I used a cardboard template that i traced off of their arms and cut out the elements of them. I used blanket stitch when attaching the flowers, porcupines and mountains to the base linen fabric. The details to the elements was hand embroidered with Splendor Silk threads.  I did use a machine to sew the four set of mini arms together to make each side of the banner. That is the only machine stitching used on the banner.

The final measurement of the banner is roughly 24" x 24". I am quite pleased with how it turned out as were my sister and her husband.





Sunday, August 12, 2018

Pennsic Gift Basket Napkins

Another friend asked if I would assist with the Pennsic Gift Baskets for this year by embroidering two napkins for one of the visiting royal's baskets. She sent me the arms and two napkins and asked if I'd stitch onto these. These are the arms of TRM of the Mid Realm.

I used cotton DMC thread for durability in washing and color retention (i soaked the threads before using to prevent bleeding onto the white napkin). 






I am very pleased with how they turned out and I hope they were happy with them. I unfortunately didnt get to see them given.

Laurel "Doby Sock" Alms Purse



Many months ago, a friend approached me about making her a sock pouch to present to her apprentice for her elevation ceremony. She originally wanted it knit with her arms woven into it but, being not terribly proficient in color changing in knitting yet, I asked if it could be embroidered and she agreed. She explained that the recipient is a huge Harry Potter fan and that by presenting her with a "sock" at the start of the elevation, she would release her as her apprentice to become a laurel. I LOVED THIS IDEA!!  After inquiring about her persona, I decided to make a sock version of an alms (aumonieres) purse. Alms purses have been found through the years in several coutries: Spain, France, England to name a few.  They vary in shapes, styles and materials made in. 

Some examples:

This alms purse from the 13th century is knit. Currently it is located in Spain.    
Chaplain of a Countess of Bar and its hinged armature Paris, Cluny Museum   
French Alms Purse 1340s



It was from these images and a few others that I took my inspiration to create her purse.

Materials used:

Silk dupioni fabric (blue, antique gold)
Silk sewing thread
Splendor Silk 12 strand twisted embroidery thread
Sulky Embroidery stabilizer
Gold Pallions
Lucet Corder

I obtained an image of her arms from my friend and transferred it to the stabilizer and then used that to outline the design and added the peerage symbol of a Laurel wreath.




Then i placed it over the ground fabric of the antique gold silk. Now while in most of the alms purses the ground fabric was covered with embroidery because it was usually a linen, I did not cover the entire purse in embroidery because I loved the glow of the silk.






Using two strands of silk, I embroidered her arms and the wreath using split stitch, stem stitch and some satin stitch. Outlining the crane and ermine were done with one strand of black silk thread.

Once finished I removed the stabilizer and cut out the shape of the sock. The entirety of it was hand sewn. I added the pallions in sets of three around the wreath/shield on the one side. I had considered putting some on the opposite side of the purse but for practicality purposes, it would rub against the clothing and I feared it would cause them to catch and pull off so I chose not to for that reason.






When it was together, I made the eyelets using an awl (Yes, Jaji, that same deadly awl) and did buttonhole stitches to bind the edging.


The draw strings, hanging cord and edge cording trim are all lucet braided from more silk splendor thread.  Netflix was my biggest friend during all this, LOL!




I was very pleased with how it turned out. I wish I could have seen the recipients face when she was given it but I have been told she liked it very much.


One of these days I'll have to get around to making an alms purse for myself.  HA!!!
#cobblerschildrenhavenoshoes

Bueller? Bueller?

I realized I haven't posted since November and St Eligius. Life was busy with the holidays and the new job and such.  Life is good. I am...