Ta Da – ish…

I began the week still puzzling over shading the drapery, so I went back to my photographs to study how the detail stitching helped to define the folds.  There are not many seated angels and there is a wide range of skill and detail in the Tudor saints I have seen.  Many are damaged, some are quite rudimentary and a few are absolutely awesome.  Here is an example of the range: 

I concluded that I should have used a deeper green for the couching and the shading wouldn’t show unless a darker colour was used.  Placing stitches in just the right place, on just the right angle and at the perfect length is a challenge on laid gold and because I was using the dark green, any odd angle showed up like a beacon.  After a few abortive attempts I settled on using only vertical stitches in varying lengths and densities. 

The experimental face stitched up beautifully in seemingly no time at all and I figured I could stitch it again with little trouble.  Experience has shown that one improves the second time around but it came out three times before I remembered where I had placed the under stitching.  If you recall, I mentioned that I felt the flesh tone was too pink.  I mistakenly changed the colour I used for the shaded area on the neck and tried to fix it by adding stitches in a lighter colour over top.  By that time, it was too late to unpick without it affecting the stitches that did work.  Note taken: don’t change colours unless you actually try them to make sure they work as planned.

Note ignored:  I did the same thing with the hair!  I wanted it to be a bit darker with a hint of red and I chose a darker colour than on the experiment, ginger to put in the major waves, with a lighter strawberry blonde shade to fill in the curls.  Luckily, this time it worked very well.

The ermine cape was a late addition.  The upper portion of the drapery appeared to be separate from the lower portion – a cape of some sort.  The angels on the Maddermarket ceiling are wearing ermine capes and a little research indicated that ermine was quite popular as a trim.  Heaven must be chilly!

The harp ended up as a filling of split stitch which worked well but it was very plain and flat.  I didn’t find any Tudor embroidered harps but the space called out for something – a little scroll design in gold passing worked well but perhaps a little much?  The strings are of silver passing and there are more than on the original because only five didn’t have a chance of showing up against those feathers!  Each finger of the arm was padded with several layers of split stitch to raise them to about the level of the strings.  The individual fingers are satin stitch over the padding and “tapestry” shading in long and short filled the rest of the hand and arm.

The last major element was the scroll.  There are many examples of scrolls in extant embroideries and I enjoyed looking at all of the different ways they were done.  My favorite is the one that accompanies the “walking dead” on the Vintners’ pall.  The motto for the Broderers’ Company was the most appropriate Latin phrase to include.  The base was stitched with surface satin but for some reason (I was in a hurry and didn’t take time to make sure I was doing it correctly!) I decided the surface couching should go straight across instead of with the curve of the scroll – arrggh!  The pressure of time!  The words were sketched out to fit nicely centered on the length and the lettering was chosen from the examples.  I used a single strand of white silk to place the letters first but it probably wasn’t necessary.  After the lettering was done, any empty spaces are just an invitation to fill with more curls of passing.  Once again, maybe a bit much…

To finish up, the different elements were outlined with black as if they had been stitched separately and then assembled and secured onto a prepared ground.  Going in and out and over the edges of the laid gold was a challenge.  I will be taking a break from the angel for a bit and move on to something else for change but there are still some little revisions and tweaks to be made.  Also, the whole piece will eventually be glued, trimmed and fixed onto an appropriate ground.  I’ve made a few altar cloths and vestments in my time and I think I will be able to find a lovely scrap of damask that will be perfect!

For now, all the notes have to typed up and the hours spent have to be calculated.  I will analyze them and figure out just how long it would take to stitch a second one without the agony of design decisions because five weeks spent on a single angel would be a recipe for starvation in Tudor times!

7 thoughts on “Ta Da – ish…

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  1. Cindy it is definitely Ta Da ! Your Angel shines in spiritual magnificence ! The drapery has worked beautifully and I have spotted the extra blue feather on the wing !
    A lot of time, energy and angst has gone into the decision making. If you were following a tied and tested formula and were very familiar with the techniques I think that as a Tudor embroiderer you could cut the time down drastically. Did the Tudor embroiderers also work piecemeal becoming very proficient in working one element or another ? It will be interesting to see once you have done your analysis.
    I am not surprised you need a break from the Angel, perhaps something a little more ‘earthly’ next time to balance your humours !!

    1. Thank you Paula! I’ve enjoyed almost every minute decision making angst included! I’m eager to sort my notes and thoughts and will post further details. A chair panel or a sleeve? I’ll start both and see what obstacles arise!

  2. This looks lovely, Cindy! Yesterday, I visited the Diocesan museum in Freising. They had a medieval chasuble on display (sadly no caption) with two musical angels. The strings of the instruments were also strung with gold threads just as you have.

  3. What a wonderful creative effort. It is not only beautiful but such a wonderful study of the design and creative process. The number of decisions needed before even stitching is always challenging and so underestimated. Congratulations

  4. Hello! I am newish to following along here but just wanted to say a huge thank you as I have been learning so much from your posts. I discovered your work when I had the chance to see Mike Parr’s presentation about the Broderers Crown at the Toronto EAC seminar last year. As someone relatively new to embroidery & with a special interest in Goldwork this was a true highlight of my journey so far. I’m based in Ontario so hope to possibly cross paths one day. Very grateful to you for sharing your work the way you so. All the best, Lesley Thurston-Brown

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