An embroidery inspired by Illuminated manuscripts. I designed this project with the sole purpose of submitting it as my entry into this years Baronial Arts and Sciences champion competition. Tir-y-Don is my local SCA chapter http://www.sca.org/ As such I was more interested in developing an entry that reflects SCA culture, than one that is strictly historically accurate. I knew that I wanted to do an embroidered piece, and that the piece needed to meet the following criteria.
1. It needed to use the traditional baronial colors of red, blue and green, or symbols of the groups arms. that was the requirement for the competition.
2. The Project needed to be quick, I decided to throw my hat in the ring about two and half weeks prior to the event.
3. It should utilize materials I already had on hand. Cause I’m cheap like that.
Looking through my stash, I found a nice selection of wool threads left over from previous projects in the colors I needed. These would be ideal because, wool threads cover a larger area than silk or linen and I would be able to work the design more quickly than if I where using another type of thread.
I have been an admirer of Tanya Bentham’s embroidery https://opusanglicanum.wordpress.com/ for some time, and thought her style of work would be nice for a quick project. Tanya adapts art work from illuminated manuscripts and medieval architecture and re-imagines them in embroidery.
I thought about using a fanciful dragon or imaginary creature for my piece but none of the ones I looked at felt right. You may be thinking to yourself “well why didn’t you embroider a Finn? It seems like Tir-y-don has a built-in mascot that would fit the bill perfectly.” Its true we do love our Finn in Tir-y-don, but I’m in the middle of two long-term embroidery projects using Finn, the Baronial Cloak project, and an Opus Teutonicum hanging featuring Finn and just felt I needed to do something else. Also while I am inspired by Tanya’s work, I didn’t want this piece to be derivative of her ascetic. While looking at marginalia I realized that I kept coming back to several Illuminated letters and An Embroidered T for Tir-y-don felt right.
When I came across this Letter D from the Bute Psalter. I knew I had found my inspiration piece. After making a few quick preliminary sketches I settled on a design I liked and transferred the cartoon to the ground fabric using a light box and archival pen. Back lighting a cartoon and then drawing it onto the cloth using an ink pen is one of several period methods of transferring an embroidery design that can be seen here in this wood cut illustration.
After transferring the design I decided to use the Green for the letter T and pale blue for the block. Both were stitched using laid and couched work. The T was stitched in the Bayeux tapestry stitch, and the blue was couched down using two other shades of blue to make a diapering pattern in the back ground.
Most of the wool used in this piece is Heathway Merino from Tristan Brooks Designs. The blue for the background laid work is a wool silk blend from Caron’s Impressions line. While I have seen no evidence what so ever that medieval spinners spun wool silk blends, I think the sheen difference works really nicely on this piece.
The T was outlined in a pale green using stem stitch and the same pale green, white and Pink wool were used to decorate the body of the Initial using split stitch, stem stitch, and straight stitches.
Growing out of the T is a vine with red seeblatt leaves, four in the gold area and one in the blue for a total of 5 leaves signifying Tir-y-don’s place as the fifth Barony in the Kingdom of Atlantia. The original inspiration piece used a vine with a tri-lobed leaf. I adapted my piece to use the seeblatt leaf from my personal arms.
The yellow background of the vines is laid and couched, again using the Bayeux tapestry stitch and also utilizing stab stitches in undulating waves. Finally I outlined the design in three rows of stem stitch to pull the two sections together visually.
In conclusion I am pleased with how this piece came together. It was nice to take a short break from long-term embroidery to work on something quick and fun. I feel it pays homage to the original illuminated page while still being something unique. At some point in the future I will apply this to something as a slip. I think it might make a nice “book cover” for a tablet or smart phone. Or maybe a scissor keeper/needle book.