Border Design Finally Nailed!

William Marshall in Opus Anglicanum, Blue border in couched trellis stitch now has both internal and external borders in place

Once I had the border trim in place, I felt I really had to get the details sorted out – but having that trim in place seemed to help. The dark green, red, and yellow on the inside, mirrored by the yellow, red, and dark green on the outside seem to bracket the blue just exactly as I planned, and I began to feel that all that painting and puzzling might have been worthwhile.

So I tried photocopying the full piece to see whether playing with my cut out sprigs on a flat surface I wasn’t worried about snagging might be useful.

Photocopy of the William Marshall design overlaid with an acetate that has blobs of coloured paint in the main areas of the design

In actual fact, the photocopying wasn’t a great success, but it was close enough that when I overlaid an old acetate and experimented with the border sprig I’d finally, tentatively, settled on, I suddenly became a lot happier. The paint is gouache, and it really doesn’t get along well with the acetate, but I felt that it gave me just enough of the sense of the design that I could be confident it would evoke an illuminated manuscript – which is what I was hoping it would do.

It’s always so pleasing when a plan comes together!

Line drawing of the combined dog rose and broom sprigs for William Marshall.

The next stage was to produce a line drawing of the planned design, and use that to transfer the final design to the piece itself.

And this was the point at which all that painting and drawing and redrawing began to show real benefits, because even though the photocopied sprig design I was using as a guide was distinctly muddy, I found myself drawing the lines I needed with a freedom from care I rarely experience with pencil in hand.

Well now, who’d ha’ thunk – more practice does produce better effects!


  1. You are good at finding solutions in many ways, and it is ALWAYS smart to test out ideas on paper, or in this case, acetate and gouache, before starting on the project itself.
    The blue border is a nice frame for the scene.

  2. Sue Jones says:

    That does look very promising indeed. I shall enjoy watching its progress. I think you will now enjoy stitching it, being confident that it will look good. And, of course, things you enjoy stitching do usually turn out better than those you don’t. Even if it is the usual kind of enjoying, the one that involves a fair bit of unpicking, some strong language and a number of small crises on the way to perfection.

  3. Meredithe says:

    What a clever way to find a border solution. It’s going to look great!

  4. Lin says:

    Definitely worth all that effort. xx

  5. Carolyn Foley says:

    All that work and worry paid off!

  6. Susan says:

    I’ve never tried such a thing, but seeing the good results you got from it, I may have to when I am able to stitch again. I have some CQ blocks to put together from 2019, and I wasn’t sure how I would do it. This has given me some ideas. Thank you! And your work is always wonderful.

  7. Alex Hall says:

    It looks like all your careful worrying away at the problem has paid dividends and the design really does have the look of a Book of Hours to it.