Christus Natus Est – Introduction

Christus Natus Est, by Steve Williamson

Christus Natus Est, by Steve Williamson

A couple of years ago, my mother painted an absolute cracker of a painting – a semi abstract Nativity, which she entitled Christus Natus Est (Christ in Born).  At the time it occurred to me that it might make a good design for an embroidery, and now I have decided on the style I am going to use – or nué.

Obviously I am going to change it somewhat, since the techniques of embroidery and oil painting are so different. For one thing, the background of closely spaced gold threads will be striking, effective, and rather reminiscent of an icon. So rather than covering the gold with coloured silk, the background will be left clear. Also, I don’t think I can hope to create the same subtlety of colour in the figures, so I will use only two or three shades of each colour.

Classic or nué uses straight rows of gold, but in her book All That Glitters, Alison Cole  suggests spiralling and curving lines, so I am going to try that.

The first stage is to work out precisely how I am going to simplify the design and transfer that to the backing fabric. As none of it will be seen, I can simply use calico, and colour it with fabric paints.

Then I have to plan the placement of the spiral and curving lines. The obvious thing to do is to centre the circle on the Christ-child, but I think that is too obvious and will make a rather stiff design. Instead I will use a larger circle, centred between the Child and His Mother.

The original painting was one metre by one and a half, and clearly I won’t be embroidering it that big – it is going to be more like three inches by eight!


  1. Janice says:

    I know it will be a while before we see this, but I’m looking forward to it. Perhaps it will be your Christmas Eve post for next year! Don’t know when you’ll get to see this comment, but I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  2. Jan says:

    Your mother’s painting is absolutely beautiful! This will be a challenging project, but you seem to enjoy challenges. I also look forward to seeing how this turns out. Don’t make us wait too long. Have a great holiday and thank you for sharing your many, beautiful projects with us.

  3. Elmsley Rose says:

    What a wonderful and interesting project for Or Nue!

  4. coral-seas says:

    You Mother’s painting is powerful and beautiful. 1 meter by 1.5 meter of Or Nue, that would be a labour of love 🙂

    I would have centered on the Christ Child but I think that I lack imagination in design.

    I also look forward to seeing this progress.

  5. Mam says:

    I am consumed with impatience to see this finished! I want to see what aspect of the design or nue emphasises – if you remember the first representation (the fake stained glass window) showed the care and protection of The Holy Family by stressing the curves of the outer figures, the second (this painting) the transcending light of the Christ Child filling the picture . What are we going to discover this time?

  6. Posy says:

    Rather than having 1 spiral, how about 3? A circle of silver for the Christ child and 2 spirals centred on the heads and growing out and down their bodies. The blue of Mary could also be done over silver, with Joseph over gold. The background will end up with a lot of odd shapes and a lot of ends to plunge down – awkward but do-able

  7. Posy says:

    P.S. Drop me a line and I can send you a picture to demonstrate how I see it. Posy

  8. Action Ma'am says:

    How about a suggestion of feathery angel wings in the background?

  9. Lady Fi says:

    Wow – this is so beautiful! What a challenge it will be to transfer this over to stitching…

  10. […] to limit the number of projects I work on at once, but my fingers have been itching to start the Christus Natus Est Panel, and I finally decided to have a […]