I have recently started a large scale Opus Teutonicum project that has been floating around in the back of my mind for a bit. One of the identifying markers of Opus Teutonicum is the scale of the project. The extant pieces are to a modern embroiders mind HUGE. Many of the altar cloths we have are four or five feet wide and twelve feet or longer (yes I said feet) some of the Lenten veils are as big as 9′ x 12′. I wanted to get a feel for working on a large project, but I am one person and the O.T. embroideries where worked by teams of stitchers. 4’x12′ seemed like a lot to bite off, but a banner sized project in the 3’x 4′ range feels doable. The next question was, what should I embroider?
Another of the identifying factors of Opus Teutonicum is the imagery used on the textiles these cloths where used as liturgical furnishing, mostly in convents. They usually feature Roman Catholic religious iconography. I don’t personally feel that I need, nor particularly want a 3′ x 4′ embroidered image of the crucifixion of Christ. Its just not my thing. So as a card carrying member of the Society for Creative Anachronism http://www.sca.org/ I thought something pertaining to SCA life might be nice. I decided to design my project around the secular iconography of my local SCA chapter the Barony of Tir-y-don. http://tirydon.atlantia.sca.org/ Tir-y-don’s baronial arms features a heraldic red dolphin, we call him Fin. We like him a lot, and think of him as our mascot. I think Fin should be the central image in my white work banner.
I had a piece of white linen about the size I wanted left over from a previous project, so I squared it up and marked the area that I wanted to be border (I’m going to keep the border design a secret for a bit) leaving me with central rectangle approximately 22″w x32″h. I sketched a dolphin onto drafting velum and when I was happy with the pencil sketch drew over the lines with a black sharpie marker. Here he is taped the sliding glass door I use as a light box.
I then had to decide what the best way to transfer the cartoon to my fabric would be. For white work I prefer to baste the design onto the cloth. I then remove the basting thread when I’m done stitching. I’ve found that using an archival pen sometimes leaves marks that you can see though the white stitches. Prick and pounce can smudge and flake off. Pencil can be both smudgy and leave visible marks on the cloth. I also wanted this project to be easily packable and portable. Because of the size of the finished product stitching it onto a stretching frame and basting through the paper wasn’t going to be a practical solution. Another option would be to use a disappearing marker to transfer the design directly to the cloth. But, those work best for short term quick projects, and this is a long term project the marks will fade long before I get this one finished. Water soluble marker might work but I live in coastal Virginia, and its humid here all the time. Damp air and the moisture from your hands will also fade the ink from those. I decided that even though it might be a bit more work initially the best way to transfer this design from the paper to the cloth would be to use two steps. First I used a water soluble marker to transfer the design initially, and then then I basted over those lines with a running stitch.
Now to get stitching.