Tagged ‘motifs’

Birds Next

November 9th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Mary asked a couple of days ago if she saw the beginning of a bird in the middle of the back piece.

Tricia started that bird ages ago, but before she got any further she realized we needed better pictures before she could really decipher what was happening there. We moved on to other things, and then when she had better pictures she was already planning her UK trip and thought to wait until she could see the motifs herself, in person.

Well, that has happened too, and last I heard she was almost ready to start work on the instructions for the birds. The original stitching in black may have to come out, I don’t know. As soon as we have something to show I’ll take pictures and share them.

One of the other items on Tricia’s plate right now is preparing to teach on December 12th in NYC. This class is one of the programs associated with the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibit of embroidery at the Bard Graduate Center for the Arts. The full description isn’t posted on the Bard College website yet, but you know it’ll be fabulous. Tricia’s going to do a gallery tour and then a hands-on class. You can get more information from wilson@bgc.bard.edu This exhibit is only scheduled to be up from December 11, 2008 to April 12, 2009, so plan your trip to New York now.

And while you’re planning, I’ve got three intrepid embroiderers signed up for another gold-blitz weekend 11/21 – 24; if you can get to Plymouth for even part of that weekend send me a note: jhall@plimoth.org


October 29th, 2008 by Tricia

A few weeks ago we finished all the detached butterfly wings (sans one).  I wish we had the knowledge then that I have now.  The wings are one color and then have a rim of a separate color at the tips. From the earlier photography we couldn’t tell if the detached buttonhole changed color or if there was an edging added after the wing was finished.  Since we didn’t know, we tried both and mixed it up.  From examining the jacket, I now know that the added edging is the answer.

We still have one more butterfly wing to work. The hardest, and it is waiting there with my name on it.  The wing in question has two colors, but instead of being an edging, the wing was split into two (see the picture here) and worked in two colors.  But the question was how to work them and join them – detached.

I didn’t come up with the exact answer from examining the jacket, but clues were there.  It seemed as if the smaller of the wing segments was attached to the linen on both sides with only the tip detached.  Then the larger of the segments also seemed to be stitched on the join edge with the tips and other side freely detached.  I think I will stitch two separate pieces and sew them on
as just described.



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.


Bird – Beak and Feet

October 15th, 2008 by Tricia

We haven’t worked the birds on the piece yet as we had questions about some of the detailing and were awaiting my trip to examine the EG piece closer. The birds on the EG piece are in yellows and greens with blue beak and feet. The jacket has red, green, pink and yellow as the color scheme. But the left over silk that had degraded from the beaks and feet were in a tan color.

The one bird on the EG panel has a complete set of feet and beak. I was happy to find a combination of reverse chain and stem stitch on the feet and a heavy ceylon for the beak. All set, I thought. But when I saw the jacket the next day, there was a beak on one bird. Worked in trellis stitch. The legs were a little different too. Reverse chain and satin stitch at the top to help give the impression of a thigh.

Another thing I noted was the use of the blended thread for the motifs. It shows up in the bird to make transitions between the stripes of color in the body and head. The body is worked in trellis
and the head in spiral trellis. The wings were another spot where we had questions. The wings are made of of segments of stitches worked in different colors of silk and silver gilt thread. The segments are outlined in black. Two birds were worked with heavy chain and ceylon, but the third had more variety with plaited braid and a fly stitch thrown in.

On the EG panel, the wings segments were worked with plaited braid and heavy twisted chain all in silver gilt and silver threads. It is interesting to see how the same overall scheme is used on both pieces and motif to motif but there are slight variations. I am not sure if this is hand differences or just bored embroiderers. The black outline seems to be a combination of stem stitch and reverse chain. Hard to tell if one or both were used as the black thread gets brittle and pieces snap away, leaving just holes in many areas.

To give you some eye candy – here you see the time trial piece I stitched from the book photos of the jacket.  From afar, the stitches on the bird wings appeared to be the braid stitch/knot stitch. Now we know it is different. For all of you who slaved over learning this stitch in the sample kit, sorry!


Our Foreign Correspondent

October 8th, 2008 by Jill Hall

I got a note from Tricia today. She’s in the UK, on a special birthday trip with a couple of friends. In addition to sightseeing and spa visits, she spent some quality time with the EG panel.

The Embroiderers’ Guild in the UK owns a flat panel of embroidery which has sometimes been called a coif and sometimes a cushion. Either way, it is the same embroidery pattern as our jacket and as the V&A jacket #1359-1900. Because this panel is flat, studying photos of it back in the winter of 2007 helped Tricia to see the master pattern repeat of the jacket, which then made it easier to transfer the pattern to the jacket pieces. The panel helped, but the process still involved several hours at least of staring and thinking and comparing and considering before the master repeat revealed itself.

She said that she’s got some great photos of the bird beaks and feet, and she’s ready to start work on the birds when she gets back. She also said that the flowers on the flat panel are stuffed, and she’s curious to see if they are on the jacket also, which she’ll be visiting tomorrow (today by the time you read this, I expect).

She’s already taken over 350 photos and will have lots to share with us when she gets back to an internet connection (this note came from her iPhone). I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about the jacket.

Here’s a photo of one of Sharon’s needlework treasures, that she shared at show & tell this last session.


October 4th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Norma has been here stitching at least a couple of times before. She comes from Connecticut.

This past weekend for show & tell Norma brought her in-progress nightcap, the project Tricia taught last February in Williamsburg. It is an awesome piece, even in-progress. The kit came with a slate frame. Oooh.

Plus Norma brought another couple of Tricia’s pieces – the glove and a rose with goldwork set into a box. I particularly love this one. It unites two of my favorite things, red and something to put things in.

Norma also brought a box with one of Elizabeth Creeden’s designs set into the top. This is a mourning piece, and is dedicated to a friend of Norma’s who passed away while helping out another friend. The second friend and her family were all down with what seemed like the flu. Norma’s friend Kathy went over to help out, but turned out they didn’t have the flu. They were slowly being poisoned by carbon monoxide. Norma’s friend Kathy died as well as two members of the family. Norma finished this piece in tribute to her friend, and part of a very long tradition of women memorializing loved ones through needlework.

During the weekend Norma completed fifteen detached butterfly wings. I haven’t had a chance yet to count how many there are total, but 15 must win her the Butterfly Queen crown. Thanks, Norma.

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.

© 2003-2011 Plimoth Plantation. All rights reserved.

Plimoth Plantation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, supported by admissions, grants, members, volunteers, and generous contributors.