Continuing The Crest for the Dig

Working On Crest

Working On Crest

The sensible first stage for the Crest was to do the goldwork. First of all, I’m not at all sure how I am going to do the background, so I should concentrate on the bit I’ve decided on. Secondly, I was a little worried that I might not have enough gold thread of the type I wanted to use…

That being the case, I decided that rather than giving each line a stop and a start, I would try to keep the lines going. That has meant a lot of thinking had to go into getting all the double lines right, and a bit of a fiddle at the central crossing point!

In the interests of both contrast and economy, the charges – motifs, in non-heraldic language – and the motto will use only one line of gold, but the shield, the Gufti’s head, and the scroll will use double rows to help pull it out from the background.

Goldwork Done

Goldwork Done

The goldwork of the Gufti’s head doesn’t have quite the same sense of life as my original sketch, but I am very pleased with how the folds of the turban turned out.

The charges – crossed touriehs (mattocks) and rush baskets (used to carry the spoil away) – have turned out well too. I was concerned that I might need to create a woven effect on the baskets, but now I look at the finished goldwork, I think it is enough to create the effect I am looking for.

The motto is a little uneven, but after all, it recalls Pendlebury just doodling something over dinner, and while drawing and sketching were vital skills for archaeologists – in fact they still are – I doubt he would have put the care into a doodle that he put into recording a trench!

Trialling Backgrounds

Trialling Backgrounds

That didn’t take very long, did it. Suddenly I realise that I should have thought it out a bit better before I started. There’s a rippling pattern sometimes seen on plaster which I would like to recall in the background. It’s a simple pattern, but I think it could be effective – if I can get it right. In order, the trials I have done here show:
1 – Variegated Pearl cotton following a ricrac “stencil”, couched as invisibly as possible using a single strand of stranded cotton.
2 – Variegated Pearl cotton in a variation of cloud filling stitch that creates a ripple effect instead of the usual diamond pattern.
3 – Variegated Stranded cotton in rows of open cretan stitch, using three strands.
4 – Variegated Stranded cotton in Arrowhead Stitch.

I’ve discounted the first and third possibilities, but I’m still staring thoughtfully at the other two.

8 Comments

The Panel of the Excavation

Cropped Section of the Scene at the Dig Copyright The Egypt

Cropped Section of the Scene at the Dig
Copyright The Egypt Exploration Society

Having completely redesigned the idea and the thrust of the second of the two background panels, I have to design the actual image I will use.

This image is cropped from a photo of the excavation from that wonderful collection of photos that The Egypt Exploration Society has allowed me to use as reference material for this project, and rather than using it just as it is, I’m going to alter it and maybe even add people to it…

There’s a lovely shape and pattern here, but the overall proportions of the picture don’t match those of the Map of Amarna, and they must. I need to make the design taller, without leaving myself with too much empty space top or bottom. A certain amount of empty space can be filled with stitching, but since this isn’t an abstraction of  reality – like the map – but a representation of a moment in time, I need to be a bit more careful about what I do and how I represent everything, including the ground.

Draft Of Excavation Design

Draft Of Excavation Design

Here is the intermediate stage. I tweaked the contrast on the original photo and printed it out at a couple of different sizes, then my mother and I had an orgy of primary school paper collage, arranging and re-arranging groups of people to create a slightly busier, taller, picture of the excavation.

The next stage is to reinstate detail where I need it. The blobby effect of the reduced level of detail is just what I needed while planning the pattern of the excavation, but although the finished embroidery won’t have a high level of detail in most of the figures, I’m not sure that the lack of detail is in the right places…

This is not proving quick to develop!

9 Comments

Getting Back To The Tudor Rose

What with one thing and another – largely to do with the Hittite Amulet and the consequent overdose on metal threads – the Tudor Rose has been snoozing quietly in a boxfile for months, not drawing attention to itself.

Spot The Mistake

Spot The Mistake!

I’ve decided, however, that it’s time it got finished, so that I can move on to other things, and the first step was to complete the white and silver petals of the rose.  I was puzzled and confused when I did my first petal after the break, because it didn’t present the same appearance as the other ones. Can you see why?

I’m going to leave it like this, to remind me to pay attention next time…

Bullion Knots Done

Bullion Knots Done

The next stage was to work the bullion knots in the centre. I’ve decided (again, not quite following the order of stitching in the instructions) that I’m going to leave the cut pieces of purl until everything else is done, so having done the bullions – with varying degrees of success, I admit! – I moved back to the leaves.

So, onward and forward, as my Grandad used to say…

First Stage Leaf

First Stage Leaf

Some of the leaves are worked in Ceylon Stitch which is then woven through using the silk thread. Those of you who were reading my blog when I was working on the Tudor and Stuart Goldwork Masterclass may recall that I found Ceylon Stitch something of a trial. Working it in leaf shapes really doesn’t make it any easier!

There are three more of these, two each to be woven into with different colours of green Soie Perlée. Tricia says to pack the weavings in as tightly as possible.

We’ll just have to see how that turns out, won’t we…

10 Comments

Assembling the Gentleman’s Glittering Nightcap – Part Three

Pincushion

Pincushion

Having attached the ultrasuede and doctor’s flannel to two of the triangles, and made a brocade pocket on the third, the fourth was given extra padding, and extra stitches created an almost upholstered effect, making a pincushion.

Once the brocade backing triangles were attached, the four triangle assemblies had buttonhole loops added at the top corners, to provide a channel for the ribbon that will hold the étui closed. Then they needed to be joined in a chain at the bottom corners, and attached to the circular brocade-covered skirtex base to create a square-based pyramid.

Etui Done

Etui Done

It turned out really well.

I’ve had lots of practice with trellis stitch and detached buttonhole stitch with return, I’ve Spangled until I’m seeing stars, and I’ve done a lot more reverse chain stitch in gold.

I can’t quite see myself using the étui in my ordinary stitching life, but I can see myself putting it in a carefully lit corner and gloating over it!

12 Comments

The Crest For The Dig – Making a Start

Dig Crests

Dig Crests

Some time ago I started to work on a design for my version of the crest that John Pendlebury doodled for the dig on the first night after the expedition arrived. It was to be the corner design for one of the panel assemblies, matched by I’m-not-sure-what in the other corner.

In the process of my recent replanning, the corner design turned into twins – there will be one for each panel. The design has also become less spare. I am planning – as originally – to work all the lines in couched metal thread (one silver, one gold), but instead of leaving the background plain I am now intending to couch or stitch a background of spaced rows of wavy lines. Some of the small fragments of painted plaster from Amarna show such a pattern, and it will create some texture and density in the corners of the finished panels.

Auditions

Auditions

I am using the remains of the gold thread I used for Christus Natus Est, but I’m still not sure what thread to use for the background. By the time I took this photograph I had already decided that I was going to choose a matte thread for the couching. This will help to bring the gold forward.

I had also already decided to use a variegated thread. The wavy pattern usually alternates rows of dark and light, but in this case I hope that the fabric will provide the light and the variations of colour across the background will give a sense of movement and “flow”. The couched metal thread will be very static and stiff, and without some sense of flow somewhere, the whole thing will look a bit pedestrian.

I have yet to make a decision here. The choice, unless I find some other thread which appeals even more, is between a pearl cotton and a stranded cotton. They are both from Stef Francis, and both are in the same colour sequence.  I hope that when I have the gold done, the answer will come to me!

8 Comments

Dreams of Amarna – a complete rethink!

In the intervals of stitching, I have been wrestling in thought with the background to the second panel of the Dreams of Amarna. My original idea was to balance “The Map of Amarna” with “London to Amarna, 1929″, but I have been struggling to envisage how to set the elements into a harmonious pattern. Then I had a conversation with my mother, and did some more leafing through my photographic sources, and all my ideas turned upside down…

Rough Layout

Rough Layout of the first panel

Here you see a very rough layout, to give you an approximate idea. I’ve laid out the Map of Amarna and the linen for the side and corner panels, and then put the patches on the side panels.

Of course, the patches won’t be set out in this arrangement. Not least, I am considering putting the cartouches of Akhenaten and Nefertiti on the horizontal panels, which will mean that there would be no space there for any patches at all. Fortunately I can double check that I have the right hieroglyphics, because the Egypt Exploration Society have been very helpful!

There is a fair mix of shapes and sizes of the patches, and the colours seem to be working well, so for the moment I am very pleased with the way this is looking.

Scene At The Dig Copyright The Egypt Exploration Society

Scene At The Dig
Copyright The Egypt Exploration Society

And Panel Two?

Well, I am now thinking about showing the travel in patches around the sides, and showing a section cut from this photo of the excavation in progress on  the main panel.

This will give me plenty of opportunity to use the different threads I used in the Map to differentiate all the people from each other.

At least, if I get it right, it will…!

11 Comments

Finishing the Antelope Frieze

The Antelope Stitched

The Antelope Stitched

That didn’t take as long as I expected. Reverse chain stitch goes quite quickly once it gets started.

I am not at all sure what the elements to the right of the Antelope are intended to represent, but in the interests of completeness I’ve included them anyway.

Finished and Framed Antelopes

Finished and Framed Antelopes

I decided to stitch the frame after all, using the Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch I first used on The Crane Pot last year. It is structurally easy to get a grip on, especially immediately after an orgy of reverse chain stitch!

And furthermore, I’ve rather fallen in love with it – the intricate braided effect excites all my imaginative faculties!

One Antelope Close Up

One Antelope Close Up

The slubby, handpainted silk is rather reminiscent of the sort of papyrus that tourists bring back, but rather than the garish coloured designs that are painted on those sheets, the subtle variations in the silk thread pull the impression back to resemble the stone in the original photograph. I also rather enjoyed the simplicity of a single stitch and a single type of thread.

I was really pleased, when I took this close up, to see how even the stitches were. This evenness hasn’t, in the past, come naturally to me – anyone who has ever received a handwritten letter from me will know that – but I think all the work on Thistle Threads Online University Courses is beginning to pay off!

13 Comments

Assembling the Glittering Gentleman’s Nightcap – Part Two

Mandy In The Cap

Mandy Modelling The Nightcap

Before we move on – here is the Glittering Nightcap, being modelled by Mandy, who was given to me for my first Christmas.  My grandfather made me a cradle to fit her, and I intend to make some bedding, and some clothes for Mandy, to go with the patchwork coverlet my grandmama made for the cradle. Unfortunately, I carried Mandy around by her hair for years, so the hair you can see is a wig, which in turn meant that that when I found Mandy again I didn’t think any modern little girl would welcome her. The cradle, with bedding and Mandy will end up as a sort of display piece. Eventually.

In the meantime – doesn’t she look sweet!

Etui Sections

Etui Sections

The étui is made of triangular sections covered with brocade and mounted on brocade covered circles to create a little pyramid. Each external face consists of skirtex with padding covered with brocade, and then has a different element – a doctor’s flannel panel for needles, an ultrasuede scissor pocket, a pincushion, and a brocade pocket for stilettos or mellors. The ultrasuede is a real trial to stitch – very, very tough to get the needle into – but it’s done now.

Each face is backed by another triangle, of card covered with brocade, and the two slip stitched together. Then there will be the interesting challenge of mounting the triangles somehow.

11 Comments

Dreams of Amarna – The Antelope Panel

Antelope Carving - Photo copyright The Egypt Exploration Society

Antelope Carving – Photo copyright The Egypt Exploration Society

When I finished the Hittite Amulet, I didn’t have another piece ready to go, but feeling a little jaded with metal threads, I didn’t want to move straight back to the Tudor Rose… So I went rummaging in the wonderful selection of photographs that the Egypt Exploration Society allowed me to have copies of to use as reference, and found a photograph of a small piece of stone, carved with part of a frieze of antelope.

Antelope Frieze

AntelopeFrieze

I transferred the design onto some handpainted silk using the prick-and-pounce method, and went over the lines with a pencil, then framed it up over a calico backing, picked out a skein of hand-dyed twelve strand silk and thought about stitches.

In the end I decided that what had attracted me to the photograph was the simplicity of the lines against the slightly uneven texture of the stone, and so I should make my version absolutely simple too.

Antelope Close Up

Antelope Close Up

With that in mind, all the lines will be in reverse chain stitch, worked as small and as evenly as I can manage without using a magnifier, for all the lines. Reverse chain stitch is so much easier than ordinary chain stitch when the fabric is in a frame!

I am thinking of using Hungarian Braided Chain, which I worked on the Crane Pot, for the edge, but I am also considering the possibility of not stitching a frame at all, but instead stretching the silk over a piece of skirtex cut to the shape of the stone.

This is a real contrast with the Glittering Nightcap – very simple and very “minimal”. Almost like a palate cleanser after a heavy meal!

 

8 Comments

Assembling the Glittering Gentleman’s Nightcap – Part One

Materials To Finish The Nightcap

Materials To Finish The Nightcap

So now, having finished the embroidery, I need to assemble the Nightcap. In addition, Tricia has designed a stand for it, which is in the form of an étui. Consequently I have a rather distracting heap of brocaded silk, doctors flannel, ultrasuede, ribbon and gold lace. Not to mention batting and buckram…!

As I’ve said before, I am never entirely at ease finishing a piece into three dimensional form.  So there was a slight hiatus while I gathered my courage to begin.

In Three Dimensions

In Three Dimensions

I decided to finish the Nightcap itself first, as – not least – I was rather keen to see it!

The first stage was to add the lace to the top of the brim, and then create the shape by sewing up the seams on the crown. The lace was easy enough to apply, once the folds were in place, but sewing up the seams on the crown was surprisingly fiddly!

I had wondered, in looking at the instructions, why the seams were embellished with reverse chain stitch, and I think you can see why in this photo of the Nightcap finished (externally) apart from that detail.

Aerial View With Gold

Aerial View With Gold

As this picture shows! Admittedly the orange background also helps to bring the Nightcap to life, but the reverse chain stitch in gold is another detail – like the pearl centres on the Floral Glove – that adds sparkle and polish to the piece.

The next stage was to line the Nightcap – using a lovely pale gold silk brocade. Again, simple enough to state, but slightly tricky in execution!

Lining completed, another deep breath and pause prepared me for the next stage…

 

10 Comments