Nile Tilapia Fish

Glass vessel in the form of a Nile Tilapia fish

Glass vessel in the form of a Nile Tilapia fish

There is a glass vessel which frequently shows up in image searches relating to Amarna, a representation of a Nile tilapia fish. I saw it reconstructed by a modern glassworker in a recent programme about the art of Ancient Egypt presented by the British art critic Alistair Sooke. The glassworker said it was a somewhat unnerving technique to do, and with all his experience, and all his practice, he was never entirely confident of his results until a fish was finished,

That being the case, it seemed to me that as an example of the skill of the artisans of Amarna, the glass fish deserved to be included. I’ve found a public domain image to act as my source – and to show you what I’m talking about. I’m thinking of padding it slightly and attaching it to one of the background panels as a fish-shaped slip, rather than a rectangular patch, but we will have to wait and see what seems the right thing to do when I’ve finished.

Getting Started on the Nile Tilapia

Getting Started on the Nile Tilapia

I’m using some rather lovely vintage linen thread, bought at the recent “Sewing For Pleasure”, on a fine but sturdy cotton. I wanted something that would not require a backing, but I’m not sure that the fabric will be left to show, so I could have used some plain calico. The thread is wonderful to work with, strong, lustrous, and resilient. Much better than any linen thread I’ve ever worked with before – they’ve tended to be stiff, and a little “dead” in feel. This stuff is a delight!

So far, the stitches are blanket stitch, seed stitches, chain, stem, and feather stitch. I’m rather enjoying this!


  1. Carolyn Foley says:

    That fish is delicious!

  2. Sue Jones says:

    I can see that fish is going translate well as embroidery. The linen thread looks spot on for it, with its bold paintbox colours. I hope it is as easy to stitch with as it is on the eye.

  3. It looks good already! I’ve never stitched with linen thread, and somehow I would have thought that it would only have come in natural neutral shades, not such lovely colours.

  4. Lin says:

    What a lovely fishy project to work on – I like linen threads – what brand are you using? xx

  5. Glenis says:

    So far it’s an excellent re-creation of the fish – keep going, I want to see the rest of him come to life.

  6. Mam says:

    Both glass and stitching make him look like he’s swimming with verve and panache1

  7. Alex Hall says:

    Looking great so far – i think the 3-D effect you’ll get with doing it as a slip will really bring him to life!

  8. Penny Baugh says:

    What a lovely inspiration!! I’m sure your stitchery will do it justice. I do like the idea of padding it a little – to give some depth to the stitches.

  9. Lady Fi says:

    What a challenge — the start looks very promising.

  10. I have never used linen thead. It’s actually a little embarrassing to admit that I didn’t even know there was such a thing for embroidery. Your fish is going to be a wonderful addition to the eventual finished piece.

    Thanks so much for linking up to last week’s Stitchery Link Party. Aloha hugs!

  11. Karen says:

    I think it’s an inspired idea to add this element to your piece….

  12. Susan Nixon says:

    How beautiful that glass is. I wonder if the original glass fish maker had the same feelings as the modern one. What a great addition this will be.