The laid silk satin stitches grew surprisingly quickly, in the end. I think of satin stitch as a very painstaking and tedious technique, but for some reason or other, I found the background of the Lotus Tile Fragment the reverse of tedious. I’m sure that the way flat silk spreads out helped with that, and likewise the increasing complication of working the satin stitches around the lotus flowers.
The horizontal stitches worked beautifully, creating the effect of a flowing stream behind the flowers. It can be hard to introduce enough movement into a design to prevent it seeming static, while at the same time avoiding any suggestion of hectic activity. In this case I think the balance between stillness and movement is reasonably well-achieved.
Once it was done to my satisfaction, I spent a bit of time searching online for images of other Egyptian representations of Lotus Flowers dating from the Amarna period. I was a little disturbed to find that many of the photos in the search results were from this blog, which made my search a little self-referential, but in the end I decided that I should put an outline in, since most of the Egyptian images were outlined.
I was influenced in this decision by the fact that I really enjoyed stitching this little piece, and I felt that re-stitching it if the outline did not please me would be no hardship at all!
I used a fine metallic thread, also purchased from Midori Matsushima, and couched it. For the stems I used three doubled threads and couched them – slightly twisting them – using a single doubled strand. For the flowers I used two doubled strands, couched with a single doubled strand. I’m not convinced that the different number of threads made a difference, but believe me, I won’t be unpicking it!
I’m pleased with it. The outlines do make it look a little more like some of the images I found in my search, and they will help the design to maintain its shape when it is overlaid with the gauze portrait.