Trash or Treasure?

Illustration for Cope Hood The First Martyr
Illustration  in pen and Ink

When you look at the above illustration, what do you see? Is this something for the trash heap, torn and mutilated as it is, or is this a rare and wonderful treasure to be cherished and preserved?

When is comes for Ecclesiastical Sewing and embroidery, one sometimes come across the most unusual things. One looks, and scratches the head and wonders.

Angel Design for Ecclesiastical Embroidery
Angel Design for Ecclesiastical Embroidery

How about this design? It is torn in the middle. The halves are almost falling apart.

Y shaped Orphrey for Chasuble
Pen and Ink Design

This last one is torn, missing half of the top, and part of the center. Is there any value to these?  Should they be thrown in the rubbish bin?

Never!  Not in my house, we don’t. To me, these are priceless treasures. Yes, these beautiful Ecclesiastical Designs are in tatters, are torn, and have none of their original beauty or glory. But they represent the hard work and artistic talent of a designer from years ago, creating the ideas on paper to be transferred via Needle and Thread to fabric through. They represent hours of selfless giving of time and talents to create objects of beauty for use in the Church.

Let’s look at the designs again.

Illustration for Cope Hood The First Martyr
Illustration for Cope Hood The First Martyr

This first design, and perhaps my favorite, appears to have someone kneeling, with arms upraised. The person in the background on the right is bending over to pick something up. The person on the left with garments flowing is in the motion of throwing, and crouched at his feet is a person that appears to be holding a bundle. Could it be coats?  The curved line on the right is the final give-away that this was a design intended for a cope hood.  How I would love to step back in time and see the complete design, and perhaps, a stitched version.  There is no indication of the artist. I know where it came from, and have reasons to suspect a possible artist.  But I am no expert. Perhaps someday, I can locate an expert who will provide the final details as to the artist.  A fair guess would attribute the credit to an English artist or architect. But it is only a guess at this time.

Angel Design for Ecclesiastical Embroidery
Angel Design for Ecclesiastical Embroidery

The angel above is also a treasure in my eyes. It is a large piece, and may be drawn to scale. Intended uses might include a banner or part of an altar frontal, but it is almost too large to be a part of the altar frontal. I will stick with banner. Flowing robes clothe the kneeling angel. What might be made of the placement of the wings, with one uplifted to the heights of heaven? Don’t they look like they could be fun to stitch?

Y shaped Orphrey for Chasuble
Y shaped Orphrey for Chasuble

Last but not least is this remnant of a chasuble orphrey.  Architectural accents adorn the edges of the “Y.” Various motifs would fit in the blank spaces. Architectural details were often used in Ecclesiastical Embroidery Designs dating during the time period of Opus Anglicanum, and the trend was repeated during the Gothic revival.  So lovely to look at. Now stitching this would be another story for another day!

So, have your say: trash or treasure?

Solo Dei Gloria

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