Mounting the Head of Nefertiti

As regular readers are well aware, when in doubt I have a policy of benign neglect which allows ideas to ebb and flow until something filters to the surface as The Right Idea. Sometimes this takes longer than others, although I have noticed that recently I’m getting ideas a bit more quickly.

Finished Head Of Nefertiti
Head Of Nefertiti

Or maybe it’s just everything coming to a head, all at once!

Nefertiti came off her frame after I’d finished her (in 2017, dear heavens above!), and then went into a box while I tackled such hair raising adventures as the Colossus of Akhenaten and the Amarna Family Group. This was partly because that seemed safest, and partly because I hadn’t the vaguest idea how I was going to display her. She certainly couldn’t be mounted on anything that would move, or suffer abrasion, not with the sort of gold thread I had used, but I have a deep aversion to mounting embroidery behind glass, except in particular circumstances.

So what I needed to find was some way to mount, frame, and display the Head of Nefertiti in a way that would be satisfying and sufficient, that that would allow her to stand alone, with no glass, no frame, but nevertheless complete. I’m not sure when the idea finally swam to the surface, but I had a thought that maybe what she needed was cloth-of-gold.

Hairpins entangled with cotton tapes

Then I found some!

Not the real thing, unfortunately, but at least I found something rather spectacular, that clearly had the idea of cloth-of-gold somewhere in its family tree. Then the difficulty became how to make the assembly work. The wretched stuff frays, pulls, and crumples. Then it didn’t iron nicely – but it responded well to being steamed under tension and ironed on the back, so that was well in the end! Next, the frame my friendly carpenter made had a front of foamcore attached, with slots corresponding to the slots in a separate piece of card attached behind Nefertiti, through which I had threaded cotton tape. The foamcore was covered with padding and then the “cloth-of-gold”, and then, with some trepidation, I cut through the padding and the gold from the back. I’ve reinforced the cuts with fabric glue, to inhibit fraying.

The head of Nefertiti, mounted on gold cloth, on set at the photographer's.

Then I resurrected a hairpin-as-hook trick I used to use to fasten my character shoes in ballet class (buttonhooks being no longer available, in these degenerate days!) to pull the ends of the tape through to the back, pulled the tapes tight, and tied two bows.

This of course skates over a lot of fussing and measuring, stretching and stapling, anxiety and tension, but I’m sure most of you have had similar experiences and don’t need every detail!

However, the final result is what you see here – Nefertiti, The King’s Great Royal Wife, At Whose Coming One Rejoices – on set at Bernard Rose’s studio, ready for her close up and commanding the stage.

Worth waiting for, I think!


  1. Sue Jones says:

    Oh, Rachel!
    Oh, oh, Rachel!
    That’s a lovely way to frame her: rich, simple and no distraction from her beautifully stitched self. This is going to be a showstopper in your amazing exhibition, when you’re ready to hold it. I am looking forwards to seeing it for real, close to.
    In the meantime: Wow!

  2. Karen says:

    That looks amazing – well done indeed. You can find vintage buttonhooks quite cheaply on that well-known online auction site – they’re useful for all kinds of unlikely things. But then you generally can’t beat a hairpin for the same!

  3. Kathy says:

    How very fine she looks, and what a well thought out way of mounting, well done you. Definitely worth the wait

  4. Lin says:

    Splendid result!

  5. Pence says:

    She looks very fine.
    I have my great grandmother’s button hook stashed with my most treasured embroidery tools.

  6. Fantastic work! You are so clever, Rachel!

  7. Alex Hall says:

    Spot on! The gold mount really makes the gold stitching pop and draws your eye right into the image. All that time spend incubating the idea in your creative subconscious was very well spent.

  8. Carolyn Foley says:

    Love that gold mount. What a great result.

  9. Jillayne says:

    What a treat to see this again after so long!
    I love this work of yours – it’s always been my favourite, it’s just so outstanding. The gold fabric sets her off perfectly so good for you for persevering.

  10. Linda says:

    You came up with a great idea. Nefertiti is looking splendid.