Since appliqué is a layered technique, I had to work forwards from the most distant object. For this subject – once the background was in place, that was the packing case.
The first thing I had to do was to work out how I was going to represent the lengths of wood running as bracing all around the box. My first thought was to use reverse herringbone stitch, as I did for the contour lines on the Map of Amarna, but as I was stitching it I became less sure.
I worked the other band in ordinary herringbone stitch, then sat back and frowned at the frame for a while.
The result of my frowning cogitations was that I decided that I definitely didn’t like the reverse herringbone stitch, and wasn’t totally happy with the standard herringbone stitch either.
I tried variations on couching stitches – Bokhara Couching and Roumanian Couching, in the lower half of the nearer band – and was no happier.
Just as well I enjoy these puzzles, isn’t it!
Finally it occurred to me that the grain of the wood would be running lengthwise in these pieces of wood, while in the planks that make up the box, the grain would appear to run across the box. The stitching I had tried had given the impression of the grain running across the bracing struts. So I tried Bokhara Couching again, but running lengthwise.
That’s better, I think, but the next task is all that unpicking.
The expedition felucca was loaded with all the excavated finds and taken to Cairo so that the Cairo Museum Director could choose what would be retained for their collection. The carpenter spent weeks making special boxes to carry the more delicate finds, like Hatiay’s carved door lintel, and a large section of decorated wall plaster (more things for me to embroider!). Then everything had to be loaded on to the felucca…
I’ve decided to concentrate on the group carrying the packing case. Partly this is because the whole photograph is a little confusing and difficult to decipher in places, and partly because they rather drew my eye, and I want to experiment with appliqué. What I hope to do is “dress” each figure, so the folds of the fabric I use creates the folds in the garment. I have no idea whether this will work, but if I don’t try I will never know!
Last time I was at the Harrogate Show I found myself in unfamiliar territory, frequenting the patchwork stands, in search of suitable fabrics for the ground and the clothes. I’ve used a piece of silk dupion from The Silk Route for the river. It’s a pale grey-green, and I think I will have to find somewhere else to use it to pull it into the overall design properly, but it has a lovely subtle sheen that looks quite watery. I’ve attached it around the edges using strands pulled from the weft, because I have nothing else suitable. The ground is a sandy cotton, doubled because I could see the silk through the first layer, and attached using a single strand of stranded cotton from my stash.
You last saw the fabric I chose for the packing case being used as the background for the Crock of Gold Hoard. It’s a flimsy overdyed turban cotton which won’t take much stitching without reinforcement, so I’ve backed it with a layer of white cotton to give it a bit more body.
Then I had a wonderful rummage in my stash, and pulled out a selection of silk and cotton threads to play with. The tubes are Mulberry Silks threads (also last seen in the Crock of Gold Hoard), and I’ve also laid out a linen thread, two Stef Francis stranded silks, and a couple of miscellaneous threads from I-Know-Not-Where.