It’s been one of those weeks when nothing is working. The basketweave pattern I originally chose for the background was lovely but too distinctive and had large unstitched areas that didn’t work well in the narrow area between the hair the wing. I found a piece of graph paper where many years ago I had charted the patterns used on motifs from late 15th and early 16th c vestments I had seen. The diamond pattern looked like it would be perfect, I just needed to add a couple of stitches to fill the empty spaces. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It was not!
As I stitched, I realized that the pattern is very complicated where it crosses, and the large diamonds shift as they meet, the double line going over one at the cross. I had to rechart adding the extra stitches and expanding the pattern to include four full squares. I messed up so many times trying to compensate the pattern at the turns and because the rows were so short and the overall design so large, I couldn’t recognize the pattern as I went from one row to the next. I tried following with a pencil, colouring the squares and marking out the spaces between the stitches but nothing really helped and all I did was make a mess of the paper pattern. I did remember to lay the passing vertically this time and thought my brain might be having difficulty with the direction so I tried turning my frame to work horizontally but it didn’t help. The little area on the left side took me almost ten hours working in silence because anything more was too distracting! All the effort was worth it though, the pattern is recognizable but not overwhelming. I still have to figure out what to do with the little spaces in between the feathers. The red silk is very noticeable at the turns and that will also have to be rectified.
On to the next section – the feathers on the edge of the wing. I began well by choosing some lovely bright colours but when I stitched them in, they didn’t seem to work. Several attempts later, I tore it all out and decided to take a break from thinking and just complete the floor and the wing on the other side because all the decisions had already been made.
Early this morning, I went back to the original premise – vibrant colour is good – and stitched in the feathers. Now I just have to do a little blending of colour, add the outline and touches of gold. Hmmm, there may be more unstitching…
This looks lovely, Cindy! Your diaper pattern is now more in line with the ones seen in English pieces. The more complicated the better (and they were usually stitched in yellow; that’s very unpleasant with the sheen of the gold). This is in stark contrast with the often very simple silk embroidery on the figures. On the continent, it was the other way around. Simple diaper pattern, gorgeous or nue or silk shading. The turns are bright red now, but would normally be covered with dark brown thread when the figure was appliqued onto the background. Or, less often, to simply give the figure a dark outline when it was stitched in one go with the background. This also gives more depth to the whole piece. Good luck with the rest of the stitching!
Thanks Jessica! I’ve done some further thinking about how to do the drapery and tried it in watercolour and pencil crayon but I still haven’t settled on how to stitch it. I may have to simplify the drapery – there are just too many folds. I may also have to enlist a model and a sheet… Stay tuned!
Hi Cindy, your feathers on the Angels wing are working so much better on your third try out. Each feather is crisp and clear and over all there is a lovely sense of flow. The blue does stand out a little more than the others but I can see that if you blend this too much with the other colours it could look ‘muddy’ and you would loose each beautiful, individual feather shape. I might be tempted to colour the central green feather at the top ( just underneath that first curving blue feather) in the blue colour . This will allow the blue to encroach into the green and lead your eye down the rest of the wing.
Cindy I so admire your patience, perseverance and talent. The diaper pattern is amazing but I can fully appreciate all those ‘cross eyed ‘ hours wondering if it was going to work or not.
I love reading about your progress. Keep going ; it will be beautiful and give you so much more information and understanding about the working of the originals.
Hi Paula, thank you for your suggestions. I have already done a little blending and am outlining the feathers and adding gold as on the Fishmongers’ pall. I will follow your suggestion about the blue feather at the top on the other wing… it wouldn’t do to have everything symmetrical!
It looks absolutely wonderful.
Lesley Fudge07734 176426
Thank you for your details write ups Cindy. I am loving following your journey of this beautiful piece of embroidery, a real eye opener and very thought provoking.
Cindy, it’s an absolute pleasure to follow your work in detail. I empathize with your tear outs and the painstaking frustration of that…but goodness! It’s stunning, and a learning experience for me, to see your colour choices and why you’ve made them. The patterns created by the or nue and couching are a also another learning experience – I had not previously realized the importance of these decisions until being able to follow the very precise stitching of them by your blogging of the process in detail. Thank you!!!
Well done with the couched pattern. My brain has a lot of trouble with these couched patterns especially continuation over broken sections.
I love the small feathers, all three versions 🙂