St. Leo’s Mosaic Christ
One of the things I love the most about traveling and visiting churches is taking photos. The photos serve as a reminder of the beauty that is to be seen in places created for worship. Most of the time when I take photos in a church, I have the place to myself. I can take my time, enjoying the peace and solitude of the church. It allows time to be still and to contemplate. But there is also another reason that I love to visit churches and to take photos. And the reason for that is the inspiration they provide for future Ecclesiastical Sewing Projects! Now you may rightly ask, how did I ever get started at this? It all happened “Once upon a time………”
Sources for Church Embroidery Design inspiration
Years ago, more than I like to remember now, I had a most inspiring design teacher in college. She was from Persia (Iran), had trained and worked in Paris, and she was a delight! I remember her constant admonitions to always have a pencil and notebook along to make a quick sketch of things we see everyday. “The world is filled with beauty and inspiration. We only have to see and look for it in the unexpected details of life.” Now, I admit that I was never very good at having said sketch book along, and worse yet, remembering to pull it out when I saw something lovely. But as is often the case, the lessons we fail to heed in youth, we learn to treasure with the passing years of experience.
Today, rather than keep a sketchbook with me all times, I prefer to carry my camera because it has many advantages over paper and pencil. It is much faster, captures colors, and lighting, and most importantly, details one might often miss with the eye. And, I should mention, it keeps family members happy, too! They are content to give me a few moments to take photos. But if it were sketchbook, pencils, and hours of drawing, rebellion would break forth, along with a refusal to visit any more churches during our travels. So, if you are wondering where this might be leading, let me take you back to my recent visit to the St. Leo’s Monastery in Florida.
At first glance, there may not appear to much in the way of interest in the façade of this chapel, but the camera with a nice zoom lens, sees what the eye misses. Let’s play a quick game of “Eye Spy” but I won’t bore you with a thousand photos. On the left is a tower with a cross at the top, below which there is a window with a rail that has a cross on either end. These details are nice, but nothing too terribly unusual. The window to the left of the main door has clear glass panes which create a cross shape. Above the door, the roof peak has a cross, and nice molding. There is a rose window, and underneath that, the lintel above the door has carvings of Alpha, Omega, and Chi Rho. These details would have been missed but for the camera lens.
And of course, this caught my attention. Who could miss this? It is a lovely mosaic of Christ holding a book with the words “Ego Dominus Et Magister.” From a design standpoint, there are a few details in the mosaic that might provide interesting inspiration for some future design work. What might that be you may well ask?
Let’s dig a little deeper, and look a little closer. There is the numbis with the cross and diamond border. Just imagine how beautifully that nimbus would translate in hand embroidered silk and gold threads. And the orphrey or colored band on Christ’s right shoulder is simple yet very nice. Don’t forget the lovely clouds filled with swirling movement. As I look at all of the wonderful details captured in this one photo, there is still more that catches my wondering eye.
Take a close look at the border of this mosaic. It has a scroll motif, and a cross framed with an oval shape. Hummmm…….I could make something of that. It would be simple – let’s give it a try. A quick import of the file to my graphics program, and an hour or so later, here is the result.
I am always on the lookout for anything that will translate into something simple, yet elegant, for use as liturgical hand embroidery designs or machine embroidery designs. This cross embroidery pattern would be a great beginner silk and gold work Ecclesiastical Embroidery Design. The lines are simple with uncomplicated spaces. This would work on a stole or, in the small size on a chalice veil or burse. A larger size would work as a Vesica for the back of a chasuble. It could also adorn the ends of a superfrontal or orphreys on a cope.
This was a quick first pass on a design and I like it. But, it may not yet be finished. This St. Leo’s Cross Liturgical Embroidery Design* will most likely sit for a while, as other designs are worked on and then, at a later point, I will come back to it and see where it needs to go next. For this evening, it is a nice start.
So, what do you think of playing the “Eye Spy Game” with details from a church visit? What details have you noted or been inspired by on a recent visit to a church?
Solo Dei Gloria
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*Hand embroidery designs are intended for the private use for the readers of this blog.