Akhenaten’s Loincloth

Belt Fall Finished

Belt Fall Finished

In fact I had finished the belt before I started on “Leaving the Tyne, 1915“, so it was just as well that I had the belt fall to work on. It gave me something definite to do while I started to get myself mentally back in the groove, as it were. I thought about fading out to the blue green down the length of the belt fall, but in the end I decided to work it with only one colour of additional purl – just the purple.

I’m quite pleased. I can’t see a difference between the chipwork of the belt and the chipwork of the belt fall, which is especially good, considering there were five months, more or less, between them!

Started The Purls

Started The Purls

So at this point I could start on the element that I first “saw” in my mind’s eye, the element that inspired me to start on this piece. Unnerved, much?

The pleated linen of the loincloth is being represented by row upon row of silver purl, using four different types: smooth purl, bright check purl, rough purl and wire check purl. The varying reflectances of the different types create different shades, representing the light falling on the various surfaces of the pleats.

And now you can see – in case you were worried – why I was not at all worried by the big slub in the middle of the fabric. I always knew it would be covered with silver purl!

Loincloth Finished

Loincloth Finished

For those who don’t know, purl is made by wrapping very, very fine wire around a former. So it is basically a tiny spring. A fraction of a second’s inattention, and it spangs around the room, snags on curtains (and even the silk background fabric), and generally becomes a severe trial. On top of that, it has to be gently handled lest it bruise or break, creating a flattened section or a dark line in the finished piece.

And yet, surprisingly, I rather enjoyed doing it!

Classically, I believe purls like this would be edged with something, but even though the edges of my purls aren’t completely even, I think this helps with the impression of a garment wrapped around the body. And I love the effect of the different shades of silver!


  1. Sue Jones says:

    That works so very, very well. It does give the pleated linen effect beautifully, and while it is made from rich threads, it is too simple and ‘innocent’ to distract from the colourful belt. Magically, you have added the necessary gosh-wow factor to the piece, and some very valuable shaping to the figure, with a most unassuming section of silver work. You must be very happy!

  2. Yes, you’ve proven it: you sure are a genius Rachel! Those purls are so effective in creating the sense of this very fine pleated linnen. Well done you!

  3. Lady Fi says:

    It looks amazing!!!

  4. Mam says:

    This is staggeringly beautiful – this is where interpretation transcends reality.

  5. Jen Mullen says:

    I can’t help but be surprised at how the basic body shape is transformed by your belt and “pleated linen”–from a simple outline, although dimensional, to something that looks so realistic! And beautiful!

  6. Dima says:

    I think the loincloth is my favorite

  7. WOW! You must be very patient to work with temperamental purl, and the result is fantastic.

  8. Lin Tarrant says:

    It looks fantastic and definitely does not need to be edged. xx

  9. Mrs G says:

    All I can say is “Wow!”.

  10. Karen says:

    Incredible work. Amazing details!

  11. Catherine says:

    I love the effect this has created! I find it quite fascinating how the materials we use can be used in different ways to create different effects. I did groan in compassion for you about your comments with the cracking. It can be a trial to work with the purl, but I do agree that once you find your rhythm it is surprisingly therapeutic!

  12. Carolyn says:

    With such a great outcome I would love doing it as well. Great work.

  13. Deb Lee says:

    Wow this looks great, its such a stunning piece.

  14. Susan says:

    A beauty to see finished. The belt is wonderful, but the cloth – oh my goodness, those purls are great! I like the feeling of the light hitting the fabric differently. If you weren’t patient, this would build your patience! I agree with no edging. This looks very fabric-like.

  15. Melissa says:

    Fantastic! It must have taken a lot of patience, but the result makes it look worth the effort!