Tagged ‘gold work’

All Lace All the Time

October 1st, 2008 by Jill Hall

The September 26-29 session had the largest attendance since our first session in June, 2007. This session also had a really impressive show & tell on Saturday afternoon.

Today I’ll share Carolyn H’s treasures. First, though, some photos of Carolyn’s protegees. She’s evangelizing bobbin lace, and encouraging newbies to try. My daughter Lilia is only too happy to learn, and this is actually the second time Carolyn has helped her to make lace. I think bobbin lace tools and materials will be coming to our house soon.

Norma also did some, but we didn’t get a photo. And here’s Carli making some lace too. Wendy was jokingly teasing Carli about getting back to real work, and Carolyn was threatening to convert all the embroiderers. That’s Cheryl in the background, stitching detached butterfly wings on the cozy couch.

Carolyn brought some beautiful and poignant treasures to share. Here she is with a lace fan that she made and that her late daughter carried at her wedding. Behind her you can see one of the pieces of the jacket that was retired from service this weekend; nothing remains to do on it except the gold work and the bird.

Here’s a lovely piece of lace with a ladybug motif.

Carolyn introduced us to the joy of collecting bobbins. Apparently there are many different kinds of bobbin lace and each kind or style has a different kind of bobbins. We all know that the toys I mean tools are at least half the fun of a needlework technique.

Some have beads (called spangles, just to make things confusing with the teardrop shaped metal tags), some are made of hollow glass, some are beautiful exotic wood, you get the idea. Here are few in my hand, the left hand one is possibly what bobbins looked like in the early 17th century. As Carolyn said, there’s really very little evidence to go on.

This is possibly the most precious needlework ever. Carolyn’s daughter, who passed away about four years ago, started this piece. Carolyn was nervous about working on it because, as she said, it was very different from anything I’d ever done before. But I managed, OK, I think. She’s too modest. I couldn’t tell where Caroline left off and Carolyn picked it up. What a beautiful gift to her daughter’s memory, to finish this piece despite being nervous about the techniques. I was so glad she brought it to share.

Carolyn brought a present for the Wardrobe Department today. She gave us a copy of Le Pompe, 1559: Patterns for Venetian bobbin lace by Santina Levey and Patricia Payne. When we’re done with the jacket lace, which is getting closer and closer; already 80 inches of the “long piece,” both wings, and almost all of one cuff are completed, she’s planning to turn her attention to some simple white lace for the period clothing of our interpreters. This book will help.


September 26th, 2008 by Jill Hall

We’ve got a lot going on this weekend (OK, how many times have you heard me say that?). But we really do.

Aside from working with us, and her several day jobs, Tricia has also been working with the Metropolitan Museum in NY on a exhibition of 16th-17th century embroidery which will open in December of this year.

This exhibition will include a video of some of our volunteer embroiderers and lace makers actually doing some of this kind of embroidery. So in addition to the 11 embroiderers and one lace maker working in the office today, we also have Melinda, assistant curator at the MET, and Han, videographer from Bard College filming and asking questions and doing all sorts of things – including, in Melinda’s case, a curlique of the gold embroidery.

Penny caught her at work, and there is Tricia in the background photographing her contribution. I, of course, forgot my camera at home.

Experimental Archeology

August 12th, 2008 by Tricia

I like that term, when Jill said it the other day to describe what we were doing it gave me all the validation I needed to go buy myself an Indiana Jones hat and bring a whip to the next session!

Possible leaf veins.What she really meant was that we were listing all the means we could imagine to get the results we were seeing from the photographs of a particular detail on the jacket and then trying all of them on the side to see what results we got and comparing them to the original. It often takes more than one person to do this as you feed off each other to come up with various options that the embroiderer of the past may have tried.

One trial.The details in question were the veins on the leaves. Since a portion of the embroidery pattern was traced from the Embroiderers’ Guild (UK) piece, we had their veins on our linen. But as comes up constantly on this project, you can see the forest but don’t notice the grass until you need to walk through it! The veins on the EG piece all have a main vein and all the nice off-shoots. We noted that the veins on the jacket in the V&A collection only have the main vein. Disappointing at first, until you realize that we have to do about a hundred or more of them. As we looked at them, we were confused. I have to admit that my ‘forest view’ had told me that they would be couched down and so I had carefully selected a couching thread the night before and brought it with me.

They didn’t seemed couched, in fact they looked like two twisted gold threads. But how was it secured? Options were a) can’t see couched thread, b) it is one long stitch that is wrapped on itself after coming back up through the fabric, c) the gold is used to couch itself, or d) a loop of gold is twisted and held down at the tip. In the next two More possibilities for leaf veins.photos, you can see all these options worked except that with a couching thread made of silk. We discounted that option until all others failed. These embroiderers were going for speed, remember.

If you want to see the original, there is a nice close-up on the V&A website that shows these veins. You can compare to our work and see if you agree. In the end, the easiest method worked the best and looks just like the original. We come up at the base of the leaf and down near the tip. Go back up again near the needle hole and wrap the laid gold thread three-four times and back in at the base of the leaf. Very fast.


If you want to see the close-up on the V&A website, remember you have to go from the V&A main page to the “collections” page, and use THAT search function – the “search the collections” one; NOT the search box that appears on the upper right corner of the main page. Once you have the search-the-collections box, put in 1359-1900 to see the embroidery pattern jacket. jmh

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