Sources of Inspiration from Lucy Mackrille
Where does inspiration come from when it comes to choosing stitches for current projects? There is a vision of the final project for the Easter Set in my mind, but getting there will be an experiment. Experimenting while stitching along. Yes, this Ecclesiastical Embroidery Easter Set project is experimental. The good news is that there are certain features that I have seen and admired from the beautiful hand embroidery works of others. And so, for now, it is helpful to follow along with the advice and inspiration which comes from the master teachers.
One of my favorite Ecclesiastical Embroidery books is Church Embroidery and Church Vestments by Lucy Vaughan Hayden Mackrille. I first came across the book online and downloaded the PDF file. You can find a copy here on-line: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015013147163;view=1up;seq=1 Early on, the print out copy I had soon became marked up with all of the wonderful things I would like to try someday. When the book became available on Amazon, I snatched up a copy. It is one of my favorite books on the topic of Church Embroidery and Church Vestments. The book is filled with wonderful information. An admirably project from Miss Mackrille’s book was her Angus Dei pictured below.
It features the Victorious Angus Dei, or Lamb of God, with His banner in a quatrefoil frame. The background is made with strands of silk stretching across wide spans of the design, but only on the front side. These long strands, to prevent sagging and being ruined, must be held down in some fashion. So thin gold threads are couched over the silk to keep it tidy. In her book, Miss Mackrille describes the process of doing laid silk embroidery threads and couching them with gold as an Italian Stitch. She says every strand of the laid embroidery floss must be perfectly straight and smooth so that they look like satin underneath the gold when finished. The gold threads need to be stitched, evenly spaced apart, with even brick stitches. There are variations of the Italian stitch, too such as the ladder stitch which she describes as useful for stitching in the veins of leaves.
The damascene stitch is a series of scrolls worked over the silk threads as seen in the photo above. These are all variations of goldwork embroidery threads being couched over laid silk threads as described from her book. Other books in my library talk about various patterns which can be worked in the gold thread such as an ogee pattern or meandering scrolls. I have loved the description of these techniques for a long time. One of my favorite online mentors has also provided detailed step by step instructions in these techniques with several of her major projects and they are stunning works. With the aid of a great reference book and an online mentor, what is there to fear? So, now after years of watching others stitch projects using these techniques and reading about these stitches, I am finally getting a chance to use variations of both in current projects.
And I have to say, they are a great deal of fun! They are not nearly as difficult as one might think. What lesson is there to be learned from this? Read up on a technique, and keep it in mind when a new project presents itself.
Next week, there should be some updates on the Easter Set Pulpit fall and the Angus Dei which both feature variations of these stitches. Thanks for reading.
Solo Dei Gloria
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