It is often the simple details that make a difference with many things: the addition of fresh herbs to garnish a dish, flowers as a center piece, jewelery to polish up a new outfit. Sometimes the simple details or little touches go unnoticed. Other times, it becomes blatantly obvious when a little detail is missing or has not been tended to. We notice that something is not quite right, or something appears to be missing, but we can not quite put a finger on what it is. Some people seem to have a gift for knowing where and how to add those little touches that take something ordinary and turn it into something special.
When we undertake Ecclesiastical Sewing and Ecclesiastical embroidery, it is important to take the time to think through the little details. Where does one start? I always start “big” and work my way down by looking at lots of photos. I sort through ideas, designs, colors or techniques. There are various folders on the computer with design or seasonal ideas, photos showing detail of various stitching techniques. Often, there is a composition notebook with sketches and notes of something that might be interesting to try. Three ring binders are set up with various project concepts in mind.
Photos are often my favorite source of inspiration for details. I do not have many photos yet of actual pieces that have I have seen in person, but there are a few photos that are worth looking at for ideas. Above is a very plain, simple green chasuble with goldwork embroidery. The base fabric is a very plain fabric. There is nothing noteworthy about the green fabric, other than it is stained and shows signs of use and wear. But the beautiful goldwork embroidery is still intact. The embroidery is worked on the center of the chasuble. There is flow and movement with the flowers and leaves. The leaves lead the eye to visually travel up, and to take in the embroidery design, stopping when the eyes get to top edge. The straight hard lines of the galloon trim also help with that visual movement upward. The large flowing floral and leaf shapes in the center of the design contrast with the clean crisp edges of the galloon. Now imagine the vestment for a moment if it did not have the flowing addition of the gold scroll twist stitched around the edge of the galloon trim. The design would go from the flowing large floral in the center to the harsh straight edges of the galloon and STOP. Visually, on the solid green fabric, it might appear abrupt and perhaps visually unappealing. With the addition of the the flowing scroll trim, the harsh edge of the galloon is immediately softened. The use of three varying design elements is visually pleasing to the eye, softening the transition from the crisp clean line to a very plain fabric. There is also transition between the three different goldwork design elements. The use of the scroll twist also adds a finishing touch and dresses up a rather plain fabric which almost begs for the addition of something.
Now, if the same goldwork design and galloon trim were used on an Ecclesiastical Brocade Fabric, would the scroll twist be needed? Perhaps not. A brocade fabric would naturally provide transition between the design elements of the large floral motifs and the galloon trim. The design in a brocade fabric (depending on the repeat size) could become a design element of the chasuble. Or perhaps the twist scroll work might only be needed at the edge of the galloon, and not at the outer edge of the chasuble. That is the beauty of looking at a photo. We can see what worked, analyze why it worked, then think about changing other elements of the design, and how each change might affect the new design concept. Ideas can be planted, and then possibilities open up.
Feel free to leave a comment about design processes that you have worked through, or special details that have inspired a project.
Solo Dei Gloria
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For the simple green chasuble with Goldwork above, do you have a picture of its back? Usually the back is the place that has some elaborate stitching. At least I would love to know where this is located so that I can see it’s back. Thank you for the lovely article.
Unfortunately I was not able to take a photo of the back of the chasuble. It was display so that I could not walk around to see the back. The chasuble was from the Cathedral in downtown Baltimore – the Baltimore Basilica. If you contact the Cathedral, perhaps they could provide a photo of the back. The Basilica has some beautiful treasures.