Crock of Gold Hoard – Problems with Shadows

Trialling Shadows

Trialling Shadows

I mentioned in my last post that I was somewhat troubled by the question of the shadows that I need to have in this picture to “anchor” the Crock and its lid in space. Since the silk I used for the Crock has a sheen, my original idea was to try to find a matte thread to help keep the shadows in the background.

Another Trial

Another Trial

I had three dark, “shadowy” colours in a linen thread, and tried those first. I wasn’t happy either with the colours (too dull and drab for shadows cast by an Egyptian sun) or the texture (rough and scratchy), so I tried a soft lilac-y blue stranded cotton, couched down with a darker blue. That was better, but not really dark enough.

Wrong Shadows In Stitch

Wrong Shadows In Stitch

So this on the left was my next attempt. I like the shading effect and depth of colour that I’ve managed to achieve, but I can already tell that the shape of the shadow is absolutely wrong.

So I packed it up, and took my problems to my mother, who is an artist, and has a much more practised analytical eye than I have.

At which point, we realised that the shadows were rather more difficult even than I’d thought.

Difficult Shadows

Difficult Shadows

A lot more difficult! The amber arrows  indicate (approximately) what appear to be two conflicting light sources. Since the ground appears to be uneven, this must be a photo taken on site during the excavation. The vertical green arrow in the top left corner is pointing at a shadow which is clearly of something on top of a pole somewhere out of the picture. The other green arrow points to shadows show that the ground underneath the lid isn’t as even as a careless glance would at first suggest.

I’ve got a lot of unpicking to do!


  1. coral-seas says:

    Difficult indeed! Do you have similar shaped pots that you could experiment with to see how the shadows fall without the complications of things on poles and uneven ground?

  2. Lady Fi says:

    Very difficult! But I applaud your ambition! And perseverance…

  3. Penny says:

    Whoops! But could your mind’s eye phase out the shadows cast by things that are not in your stitichery and trace shadows that would more fit your pots? I see some shadow study in your near future.

  4. Hummm. To me the shadows should be more horizontal, not on the diagonal. Is that the problem? You are trying to mimic the photo too much?

  5. karen says:

    I am wondering…ecru? beige? although your work is so beautiful I am sure you will figure this one out……light grey? the brain is ticking…might be full of rubbish though!

  6. Elmsley Rose says:

    I agree with coral-seas re experimenting with a real pot.
    I’ve read about shadows being purple…and I wonder if a darkish mauve that tones with the darker side of the pot would work?

  7. Carolyn says:

    Shadow causes so many problems. I find I have to draw my embroidery out on paper. Sometimes I blow up the image and then take out all the colour. I try both colour and black and white in photoshop or some other manipulation program and try the filters. I like the watercolour one the best because it highlights all those shadows.

    Shame about the unpicking but it has to be.

  8. jackywllms says:

    Wow the textures here are amazing.

    I know when painting a great colour for shadows is a mauve/grey colour, so you look like you are on the right track.

    Jacky xox

  9. Hi Rachel, enjoying catching up with your beautiful work after our holiday. The only time that I had shadows in a patchwork piece, I cheated! I bought fabric paint, and got Malcolm, who is artistic, to add the shadows for me. I am sure you will work it out, just as you have worked through other problems in the past!
    Thank you for all your lovely comments on our adventures – we had a wonderful time!!
    Anne x

  10. Terrie says:

    This is a high level and very “technical” for me yet it is interesting to see how you worked out. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  11. […] you last saw the Crock of Gold Hoard (here), it included some highly unsatisfactory shadows, and my mother and myself had pounding headaches […]