Tagged ‘panel’

Hampton Court

October 30th, 2008 by Tricia

The Embroiderers’ Guild is housed in an apartment in Hampton Court, one of Henry VIII’s favorite palaces.  If you ever have the chance to visit, take it.  It is a lovely place.  The Royal School of Embroidery also is located there.  Call ahead, each has a little store with wonderful goodies and books to buy.

Once we were done viewing the panel, we took the rest of the day walking around the palace and viewing the inner rooms that are open to the public.  It became fun to imagine people with embroidered clothing walking through these halls.  I love when I can get closer to the context of the real situation.  Even the gardens reminded me of the embroideries we see.  There was also a few portraits in one hall, one we all recognize with one of the long versions of the jackets.

Tricia

Panel

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.

Tricia

Who is Doing the Spinning?

October 16th, 2008 by Tricia

There was a mistake on the panel that was very interesting to me. One of the questions I have been working on for the MET exhibit has been the method of manufacturing gold threads. This also begets the question, who was making them. From the research so far, we see gold and silver wyre drawers making the wire and possibly flattening it. Then it seems to be turned over to ‘Gold Spinners’ who put the wire or strip around the silk core thread. We have not found any description of this process yet and the current processes used are a product of the industrial revolution and therefore don’t provide us clues as to the past.

The mistake was a small leaf under the bird’s tail. The buttonhole had been started with a strand of silk with a silver strip wrap. Then it changed to just silk at about the natural point that a 12-14″ strand of thread would have run out and have to be changed. What was interesting is that both the jacket and panel have only silk leaves. No metal wraps. But here we have a mistake…oops…started with the wrong thread. But they never seemed to take anything out if they could help it. Hardly noticeable in the final effect unless you are overly familiar with the pieces.

The ah-ha moment came when I saw that the thread wrapped with the metal strip was the same two color silk (green and yellow) as the rest of the leaf. We have talked in depth before how they achieved this heathered effect with a two color twisted thread. Our hypothesis has been that, at the frame, they twisted the two colors they needed to blend. But now we see that the blended thread is also wrapped. Chris, Lynn and I had a long discussion on this – repeated the next day with Susan with additional thoughts being added.

The wrapped blended thread implies that possibly someone in the workshop was skilled at spinning the silver strip or wyre onto the silk thread. Susan repeated what we all would have originally thought – that you bought the colors and threads that you needed from a third party as we do today. The vertical integration of gold thread or composite thread making with the embroidery studio has been a working hypothesis of mine for years. I especially see a great deal of evidence on professional pieces where there are multiple composite threads such as flat silk, wyre wrapped silk, and wyre wrapped silk purl that are all the same dye lot. Based on inventory records, the threads were a valuable commodity and thus having the flexibility to make what you need as you need it would be economical. But we do see that gold threads were certainly bought pre-made by the crown and then supplied to the embroiderer. Many new questions came from this discussion. Susan posed an interesting question: if the gold thread was pre-purchased by the person who commissioned the piece and given to the embroiderer, how would they know how much to buy and could they insure that the workshop wouldn’t skim off the top?

We talked at length about how we have gone about estimating thread for this project, a very important issue to make sure that we have silk of the same dye lot and that the threads we are having manufactured will be enough. Susan was very interested in the process. We have a lot to think about and these questions will color how we look at inventory and account book records in the future.

And if we were to think that this was usual, while I was at the EG collection, they thought I might be interested in seeing other pieces and brought out two coifs. On one of the coifs, this heathered thread with metal wrap was all over the piece. Nice.

I’ve added pictures of the two-color thread we used to prove how the heathered effect was done for you to reference.

Tricia

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!

Tricia

The Panel – Raised Work

October 14th, 2008 by Jill Hall

As you saw in the picture from yesterday, the panel in the EG collection is quite small. It appeared to me to be the same scale as the jacket, but some further measurements will be made from photographs I took with a ruler at the edge of the mounting. If you remember, our hypothesis is that the same master vine pattern was used for both.

The first thing that struck me was that the petals of the flowers were stuffed, giving them a trapunto-like effect. This isn’t visible in the published photos of the piece. Of course panic set over me – was the jacket also stuffed? My gut said no, as the extra work would have greatly increased the time to finish the piece and we had already seen that some details on the panel had been dropped for the jacket by comparing photographs. When I saw the jacket the next day, it wasn’t stuffed. Phew. I don’t know the material it was stuffed with, but it appeared ecru to white when I saw it peeking out under one damaged petal. Possibly wool? I did really like the effect. I may have to try it.

The stuffing, I think, would have been put under the growing petal as work was being completed. I say this because the fiber wasn’t sticking through the top (as it might if it had been laid down first). Also the reverse chain outline was there and so the petals were embroidered in place. What we don’t know is if a traditional trapunto technique was used – slitting or making a pushed hole in the back and then fiber stuffed in and the hole sewn shut. The panel is mounted, making the back unavailable to view. Considering how difficult it might be to stuff from the back without damaging the buttonhole, I think I will try stuffing as the petal is worked.

Tricia

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