Tagged ‘carnation’

Holy Spangles, Bat Girl!

October 28th, 2008 by Tricia

The title of this post was Wendy’s reaction to my email that the Laton Jacket was sitting in front of me ready for inspection.  I loved it.

Back to the jacket, Wendy had a number of questions for me pertaining to the embroidery on 1359-1900.  They all centered around one issue – “did we figure it out right????”  The great thing was that I didn’t find many elements that we had been mistaken about.  Phew.  But there was one which really surprised me.  The carnation (or pink) calyx was actually stitched in trellis stitch on most of the jacket and not detached buttonhole like we did.  It took awhile to figure out how we
were wrong about that one.  But then I noticed that the two carnations/pink calyx (so what is the plural of calyx?) on the back of the jacket were stitched with detached buttonhole and this was the only photography we had at the time.

My goal when I entered the storage room for both the V&A and EG was to photograph a close up of every motif on the piece so I could go back later and look at this type of detailing which I wouldn’t have time to systematically do at the piece.  I achieved that goal with over 1000 pictures total. Thank heavens for digital!  I think it will take months to review the data as questions come up.  But I am trying to record what I learned immediately in the blog while it is sharp in my mind.

Here is our calyx.  Even though we are wrong on some…we aren’t taking them out now!



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.



June 13th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Clump of pale pinks in garden.I wanted to show you some live pinks in my garden, before they “went by.” I almost missed them; we had an obnoxious heat wave here last week which shortened their bloom time as well as my ambition to take pictures of them. Yesterday was cool and lovely, though, so here we are.

First a clump of pale pinks in situ. In the 1627 English Village these are also called gilloflowers or gillyflowers, soft “g”, so of course they’re my favorite. They have a wonderful spicy scent. They don’t last long as cut flowers, though.

I checked the Oxford English Dictionary Online and a facsimile of the 1633 edition of John Gerard’s Herbal looking for some information on pink the color, pink the flower, and carnations. According to the OED “pink” meant a small boat and a small fish before it meant the color between red and white. Interestingly, though, the earliest reference to pink as a color had to do with a yellow color, not what we call pink now: 1634 H. Peacham “your principall yellow be these – Orpiment, Masticot, Saffron, Pinke Yellow, Oker de Luce, Umber.


The OED’s first reference to pink as the color between red and white is in 1669. Of course the OED isn’t infallible, and they’re recording the first use in writing not in conversation.


Close up live pink with dark spot.As early as the 1500s pink meant a decorative hole, cut or slash in a garment. Sometimes a different color of cloth showed through the pinks. Remember pinking shears? Which were so much more used before sergers became common.


That kind of pink, like pinking shears, is how the edge of the petals of these flowers look, which is probably why they were called pinks rather than that they were the color we now call pink. Every time I try to connect the dots in words between the jagged edges of the flowers, their color, and the color between pink and red it is a hopeless muddle. But I’m betting you know what I mean.


Anyway, Gerard in 1633 has an entry called “of Clove Gillofloures” and a separate one called “Of Pinks, or wilde Gillofloures”. He’s got an illustration of the “great double carnation” under the first heading, along with the double clove gilloflower, the white carnation, the blue or deep purple gilloflower and the single gilloflower or Pinke. Under the second entry he’s got illustrations called single purple pinks, single red pinks, white jagged pinks and several more: purple, white, wild, dwarf, mountain, and leafless.Embroidered pink.


My garden has a second variety with a dark red stripe at the base of the petal. These ones really put me in mind of the stitched pink on our jacket. I got both plants from the Plimoth Plantation horticulture department’s spring plant sale a few years ago. The horticulture department (as you might expect) specializes in rare and heirloom varieties. Nowadays pinks belong to the dianthus family. And that’s probably more than you wanted to hear about pink!

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