Tagged ‘borage’


October 17th, 2008 by Tricia

The panel at the Embroiderers’ Guild has often been referred to in some texts as a coif. The confusion may have occurred because the dimensions (width and height) are similar to many coifs. But it is a panel. We took a look at the edges and it was obvious that the piece was in its entirety and not cut from something larger. The small amount of linen around it had either nail marks or holes from being stretched on a frame. There was an embroidered stem stitch outline around the four sides and the embroidery appropriately started or ended at the boundaries if the motif was cut by the boundary.

Other details that are different from the jacket: there are less flowers, only nine types instead of the 11 borage being repeated twice) of the jacket. (I had to read this twice, my brain doesn’t move as fast as Tricia’s. The jacket master repeat is 3 x 4, therefore 12 motifs, but there are two borage so only 11 different motifs.) The borage and strawberries are missing. The blue and red flowers (carnation, gillyflower, or cornflower?) on the pieces are different between the two pieces, but not much different in terms of tracing. Just embroidered differently.

The calyx of the foxglove is stitched in silk and not gold. There is a different technique used for the detached pea pod parts, detached buttonhole in silver strip wrapped silk on the jacket and silk buttonhole over a gold thread (return) for the panel. The roses have an extra set of detached petals. Some of the thistles have an extra layer of detached buttonhole. The coiling stem is also a different stitch. On the jacket it is plaited braid whereas on the panel the stitch is ladder with wheat sheath. This stitch is much slower to work than plaited braid and done in two passes. Overall, the panel has a higher level of detail work which is absent from the jacket.


Thank God for Stash

August 13th, 2008 by Tricia

Tricia’s FlorilegiumSometimes we all come by some book and decide to buy it and later think that you may have been crazy to have done it. Years ago I bought a modern copy of The Besler Florilegium, which was originallyborage-13.jpg published in 1613. It is huge and used to hold my computer up. But I have used it many times on this project to look up the flowers on the project to help confirm that it is what we think it is or some
detail. It came in handy last night on the borage.

The borage from the florilegium.When we made the pattern for the embroidery, we traced the existing embroidery and the borage looked like there were just two rows of black in the center. We worked it yesterday as we can see it on the piece. But the placement of the pistils just didn’t look right to me. As I was working on the instructions for the books, I pasted in pictures of the original and noted that some of the borages had a few more rows. Hmmmm, I thought. Might the center have been filled entirely with black and did it degrade over time? I have been working on another project with a blackwork nightcap and have been studying where the black threads cleave from the surface of the linen and so the pattern I was seeing on this borage made sense that there may have been more. Hence looking up of the borage in the Besler Florilegium. It isn’t a flower I am familiar with and I wanted to see how aWhat the finished borage should really look like - and now does. period interpretation of the flower looked. As you can see here, the center is a cone of ivory and black framed by the pistils. There was the answer, our borage is a funny projection and I needed to go back and add more black trellis stitches immediately! Here you see our new ‘finished borage’. Much better.



July 9th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Wendy stitched this borage as the model. She sent me a photo, labeling it “borage – done”. Which of course it is not. I’m trying to be careful about that now. Borage needs some black and white in the middle, and then the little spiky leaves done too.

But this is the big part, and for the next session (officially 8-11 August, but any time the week of the 4th can work as Tricia will be here working on GOLD) we’ll have borage directions. This is good, because in the master pattern borage is the only motif that repeats.

Borage by Wendy.It’s a three-across, four-down repeat, and borage appears in the middle of the top row and at the left end of the bottom row (as Tricia drew it – it’s a repeat so theoretically you could start anywhere and repeat outward). So twice as many borages, sort of. Lots of opportunity to use the spectacular dark blue gilt sylke twist. See you soon?

To address the questions in the comments about comparing the lace gold thread to the embroidery gold thread, and how the embroidery gold thread is made, and the needles, and that, we’ll have to wait till Tricia comes back from vacation and can let us know. I’d say maybe towards the end of next week? I know she’ll get us the information as soon as she can.

I think there will be plenty of goldwork to do aside from the coiling vines, too. I was thinking, the tops of the foxgloves and pea pods are gold. The vine has many curliques (which it may be should be worked as you come to them, but maybe they’re separate, I don’t know) which will be gold. Most of the leaves have gold veins. The rose, strawberry flower, pansy and honeysuckle all have gold centers. The straight lines that stick out of the columbine and honeysuckle blossoms might be gold. (No, I don’t mentally catalog the work left to do, over and over. Why do you ask?) So we may well have goldwork available to those who either don’t want to or can’t match the established stitch density of the plaited braid. All of which to say, don’t worry, there’s plenty work to go around.

The other day I heard from some embroiderers who hadn’t sent in a sample or signed up to stitch because they were nervous about having their work “judged”. We’re really not using the samples to judge, or to keep anyone away. No one’s been refused. The samples let us take advantage of everyone’s strongest skill, and give Wendy and Tricia a starting point for helping to improve everyone’s stitching. Even those very experienced with this kind of embroidery have reported that after a few pointers and two days of practice, their work has improved and they go faster. Several have called the embroidery weekends a kind of ‘master class’, with individual attention (Wendy & Tricia usually have 20-25 students in a class and here we never have more than 8) and lots of time to practice.

So don’t let that keep you away. Come stitch. This chance won’t be here much longer. I swear.

Out of Service

April 12th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Today, one of the sleeve pieces went “out of service”. This is a good thing, not like when that happens to your TV. I am plenty excited.

Out of service means we’ve hit a point where we can’t do anything else on it, until either we get more instructions or more materials. This is the first large piece to go out of service. Before today only the gussets were out of service. All that’s left on them is the gold work, and we’re waiting for the next iteration of that thread for Tricia to test.

Left under sleeve out of service.Today Susan K finished the plain worms, and the only things left on this piece are 2 columbines, 2 1/2 borages, 1 1/2 birds, 3 butterfly wings, 1 “fancy worm”, and 1 1/2 roses. We’re waiting on directions from Tricia for these motifs: colors, stitches, direction of working, that sort of thing. So, OK, there’s still an awful lot to do here, not to mention the gold work and the oes. But let me enjoy the moment.

Wendy is even now working the prototype of the rose motif and taking detailed photos as she works which Tricia will magic into the awesome individual motif directions we have for the other motifs. Once we have those, we’ll bring this back to do the roses.

Did you catch that “fancy worm” comment? Most of the worms are simply done in ceylon stitch in either red or blue GST. The fancy worms are different, two colors and we haven’t quite determined the stitch yet. The term captured my imagination, though. FANCY WORMS. Is that an oxymoron or what?

I’m a little giddy, I actually worked two and a half leaves today, including one two-color leaf. Woo-hoo. I was working on the right side, which is in one of those huge, unwieldy frames. I stood to work on it, with the frame propped against the big cutting table. Tired now, but very pleased.

Bryce W was here for two days and has taken the first piece of lace as far as it can go. Turns out the 13″ piece for the wing needs 15 motifs and we strung only enough spangles for 13 motifs. Tomorrow Wendy will unwind some of the bobbins and add more spangles so when Carolyn next comes in she can finish off this piece and get the next one started. The lace is well and truly underway. No wonder I’m a little giddy.

Marilyn left a comment the other day, that when she got practiced at the trefoils she was able to do one in three hours. That is really zipping along, and part of the reason they’re called “dreaded trefoils”.

Hey, can anyone recommend a really sturdy needle threader? We keep busting the ones we have and can find. Any suggestions?

More tomorrow.

Red, red, red.

May 26th, 2007 by Jill Hall

Tonight we have two more sets of stitch instructions: trellis stitch and spiral trellis stitch. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect at every stitch; you don’t even have to do every stitch on the sample. If you have one stitch you love and are great at, just do that one.

And another book review:

King, Donald and Santina Levey. The Victoria & AlbertMuseum’s Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750.New York: Canopy Books. 1993.

This volume is almost entirely color plates. The few pages of text form a brief overview of British embroidery, and because it covers 350 years it is very much an overview. The book also contains a glossary and diagrams of some common stitches. The diagrams are nice to have but are not really instructive in that these alone won’t enable one to reproduce a piece of embroidery. But that isn’t the point of this book. The point is the many color reproductions of embroideries in the V & A collections excellent for reference and inspiration.

And, if you have this on your shelf, you can turn to page 63 and see a larger-than-life image of the embroidery pattern we’ll be using on our recreated jacket. See, right in the middle there, where we took the pattern for the embroidery on the header for this blog.

I’ve gotten a couple of questions about this sample piece lately, so I thought today I’d tell you how it came to be. Once we determined that we wanted to do this jacket thing, we needed to create a plan, including a budget. In order to do that we had to know how long it would take to create this jacket. At the same time (this was late fall, 2006) Plimoth Plantation was working with a Marketing consultant to create a packet of information and images that we could use in applications for grants and other funding proposals to support the planned exhibit (of which the jacket would be a part). We needed to include images of a sample of the embroidery that would be on the jacket.

Fulfilling the two needs in an extremely efficient fashion, we traced off a bit of this pattern from V&A 1359-1900 (later we discovered it is reproduced on this page larger than the original). At this point we had not even begun to talk about what jacket, what embroidery pattern, or anything like that. It is purely a coincidence that the sample piece is from the same pattern we ended up choosing for the real jacket. Tricia made her most educated guess at the stitches used, based on close examination of this picture and having studied other 17th century embroideries in person, and worked the sample accordingly.

So after she had taken it away to work on, our consultant asked what color it was. Well, I said, there’s a blue flower and a bird, in green and yellow, I think (not having the book at the meeting). Red, he replied. Something has to be red. Red is good. Red is attractive. Okay, I said, let me see what I can do. I hustled right out of that meeting and phoned Tricia who fortunately hadn’t started stitching the flower.

Our estimate of 2000-2500 hours to accomplish the embroidery comes from Tricia’s timing of the stitching of this piece. And the photographs came out so nicely (thanks to the talent of the photographer, Ed Nute) that they’ve been used and used and used.

But that’s why what clearly ought to be a blue borage flower (fairly common on embroideries of this period, and a familiar friend to those who study them) is red, red, red. The fact that red is my favorite color had absolutely nothing to do with it, I swear.

AND, the borage flowers on the real jacket will be their proper blue, but more on that another day.

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