Reading Time for a Stormy Night
The weather took a sudden unseasonably early turn for the worse. Today if feels more like an early November day, rather than a day in early September. With the weather being so cold and rainy outside this evening, there is nothing else to do but pull an Ecclesiastical Embroidery Book off the shelf, brew a cup of tea, and settle in for a cozy look at a new book.
The book which made its way off the shelf for a read is Embroidery: A Collection of Articles on Subjects Connected with the Study of Fine Needlework by Grace Christie. The book, while in new condition, is a reprint of an old book, or rather, a collection of articles that date from 1909. I first learned about Grace Christie from Mary Corbet at Needle ‘n Thread when she did a review on the book Samplers and Stitches, and I have been hooked on Grace Christie ever since.
When I came across this title on Amazon by a favorite author, the book was added to the wish list. A few weeks ago it moved from the wish list, into the cart, and now is in my library. While I have not had time to read it from cover to cover yet, I did notice that there are a few articles relating to Ecclesiastical Embroidery, much to my delight!
While flipping through the book, the words, “The Use of Precious Stones in Embroidery” caught my eye. Reading on, Mrs. Christie starts out by relating how in earliest times the art of embroidery was indebted to the goldsmith for the manufacture of gold thread, as well as for the goldsmith like details of design. What an interesting thought! She goes on to explain that until the 17th century, it was fairly common to add precious stones as an enhancement for both lay and Ecclesiastical Embroidery. She talks about the increased use of bead work in her time in conjunction with embroidery.
Although the book has no photos of actual pieces, there are some very nicely detailed line drawings that give a ready picture of the item being described. The lion head in this design is full of charm. This detail is from a famous red cope of the 14th century which belonged to Butler Bowden Family. Mrs. Christie describes the cope this way: “The famous red velvet cope, of fourteenth-century English work, has still some of the pearls remaining with which it was once lavishly ornamented.” Details of the pieces are described in vivid language to help bring the image to life. The illustration above is from that cope described by Mrs. Christie. It shows a lion head and some acorns which are made of pearls. The stem like columns are attached at intervals all over the cope, and are used to divide the figures and subjects embroidered on the piece. I will have to remember this little guy, as I have a future project that uses a lion head as well. I wonder how my lion design might look stitched with pearls, beads and stones? Guess there is one way to find out!
Now for those who might be history buffs out there, if one does a little more searching on the internet, you will learn a little more about the Butler Bowdon Cope. The piece appears to have survived the Reformation by being cared for by members of the Butler Bowden Family for centuries. In the 1950’s the cope was put up for auction and the Metropolitan Museum had acquired the piece. There is also a little bit about the Victoria and Albert Museum working to come up with funds to keep the piece in England, as it was of such historical significance.
Throughout Mrs. Christie’s book, there are various Ecclesiastical Embroidery Designs suitable for Hand Embroidery. The book ends with an Article on “Opus Anglicum” as she refers to the word, which is the wonderful Ecclesiastical Embroidery done during the late 12th and into the 13th Century and a little beyond. The hand embroidery done during this time frame was distinctive in its approach. For those who may be interested, the book may be found online through Internet Archives where it is available for free download.
How I would love to go on and read and share more, but it is late for this evening, and so, until next time, wishing you stitching joy!
Solo Dei Gloria
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