Head of a Princess

Head Of Ankhsenpaaten

Head Of Ankhsenpaaten

One of the crowning finds of the season was a small carved stone head, interpreted as depicting one of Akhenaten and Nefertiti’s daughters, Ankhsenpaaten. I know the princesses (two of them!) have already appeared, but that is a separate piece, whereas this version may be able to form part of the main panels.

I gathered several source photographs and some fabric, and Thought Hard.

And decided to challenge myself. Whenever will I learn?

Ankhsenpaaten Design

Ankhsenpaaten Design

So I’ve stretched a piece of calico over some small stretchers, and attached a rather nice piece of silk over the top.

Then I’ve traced the main elements of the head onto tissue, and transferred it using running stitch. I’m going to need to be careful, because I want to be able to remove these running stitches when I’ve finished, but there is a lot of stitching to do yet.

I just hope I’ve transferred enough to give me the right level of guidelines!

Seed Stitching for Ankhsenpaaten

Seed Stitching for Ankhsenpaaten

I’m going to use seed stitches in several different shades of spun silk, hoping to end up with something of the granular effect that some stone has. I’m starting with one layer of seeding, staring hard at the source photo and stitching clouds of seed stitches to give the first level of dimensionality. It is going to take quite a while to do this, especially when you consider that it is a very simple technique.

Simple in principle, that is. In execution, not so much!


  1. Lady Fi says:

    Good luck – this will be a nice challenge for you.

  2. Lin Tarrant says:

    Have been watching this on Instagram – it’s lovely. xx

  3. Seed stitch might be easy, but it will take time to add all the seed stitches that you need for the gradation.

  4. Catherine says:

    Oh, I’m excited to see this develop! I love the idea of the seeding stitch. It’s a stitch I find more challenging than I should really, there is something about random I don’t do well!

  5. Meredithe says:

    Good luck with it!

  6. Jen Mullen says:

    I’ve always found the head shapes and bulging bellies of ancient Egypt fascinating. Good luck with this new adventure!

  7. Susan says:

    How interesting! You always seem to find a new challenge without any difficult at all. =) This is going to be a wonderful addition to the other Egyptian pieces, I predict.

  8. Sue Jones says:

    This will take some stitching, but seeding is rather soothing to do. By the way, that horrible, plastic, ‘invisible mending’ thread is handy for temporary-marking runnings – you can’t pierce it if you try!
    It’s fascinating to see the parents’ faces echoed in the child. This, despite all the conventions of Egyptian portraiture and the constraints of the medium. It’s a very human, charming piece. The team must have been delighted to have found it.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Looking forward to see how all these lovely seed stitches are gonna lay together, Rachel … 🙂

  10. Sheryl says:

    Goodness what a challenge, always interesting to see how your work develops.

  11. I look forward to seeing this progress, I love your inspiration for this piece, I have used ancient goddess figures in some of my embroidery in the past.