Dreams of Amarna – The Faience Hippopotamus, First Stage

I have two Amarna projects already on the go (one of the backgrounds, and the Dig House) but they are both monochromatic, and you will have gathered that I like colour. So I thought I would experiment. Again!

Small Hippo Outlined

Small Hippo Outlined

My rule for the panels and motifs is that I may only depict items that Mary Chubb mentions, or that she would have known about, or which were excavated in Amarna about the time she was there. That means that anything seen in Howard Carter’s excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun or excavated by Flinders Petrie is also allowed. So a faience hippo is just about permissible, as they seem to have cropped up in a lot of excavations, not just those of the Egypt Exploration Society. I’ve also just purchased (courtesy of Alibris, since it is out of print) “Tell el-Amarna”, by JDS Pendlebury, who was Director of the Excavation when Mary was Secretary. It should give me more ideas about what was known or thought at the time, which in turn will help me to plan more illustrations.

The background fabric is an overdyed silk noil from Stef Francis, and I will be using some of her stranded cottons as well.  I began by copying the outline onto tissue paper and then went over the outline in running stitch. I rather like this technique for marking designs, at least where the design is relatively simple (see Ruth O’Leary’s Spirograph hangings for a less than simple design using the same transfer method – eek!).

I then stitched around the edges using split stitch to make the edge of the design clear, and took a deep breath…


  1. Jan says:

    I like how you are approaching this project – staying true to the time and place. This project is going to be fantastic. I look forward to seeing more of your experiments as you prepare to work on this large project. Love the history that goes with it as well.

  2. Hi! I’ll probably freelance myself once I get the lay of the land and find some idea of how to go about it….. I’m a bit clueless at the mo, but I suppose I can start by leaving my contact details with any company I would happily work with again – assuming that doesn’t break my contract with the agency I meet the company through, of course!

  3. Janice says:

    Looking forward to seeing how it progresses, Rachel. Your choice of materials is beautiful.