In April of 2021 I planned out a rather large embroidery project reproducing a panel of the 14th Century Embroidered Wall Hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I am happy to say, that after nearly two years the project is complete:
I wrote a bit about the project in a blog post called German Brick Stitch a Major Embroidery project. I also produced a document detailing how I chose each of the patterns in the embroidery which can be accessed here.
But as a reminder, here is a close up of the piece from the Met, to remind you of my inspiration:
My embroidery was a combination of several of the friezes from the Met Panel. The embroidery depicts a woman giving her lover a crown, a symbolic representation of giving one’s heart away. This imagery was often seen in medieval secular art including many ivory carvings from this period. I borrowed the figures directly from this panel depicting King David’s arrival into Jerusalem. I borrowed the tree and the castle from other scenes and the patterns from various locations throughout the embroidery.
This year’s Bhakail A&S Championship topic is growth. In the spirit of growth, here are progress photos of the embroidery. I love “watching” it grow over time.
Painting on the words and the faces was the hardest and most terrifying part.
The faces and script were painted with an archival quality water color ink using a thin brush.
What I learned:
The biggest thing I learned, was that for me, counted thread embroidery is meditative, but it is not challenging.
In September of this year, I was a little sick of this project. At over two thirds complete, it felt like an endless task that would never be finished. And, it was no longer challenging for me. Other projects, big ones such as the opus anglicanum pelicans, presented a challenge in all their parts. Very few stitches didn’t involve thinking and processing. This piece, was largely unchallenging once I made a decision about the design because every stitch was the same. Once I mastered each stitch (Outline, kloster, and brick), there was very little to learn by continuing. That being said, I continued to hone my tension, refused to be sloppy, and was very much a perfectionist in the counted design. And I found joy in the meditation of the piece, in a way I am sure the stitchers felt some 700 years ago.
There is very little I would change about this project were I to do it again. But, there are a few things I would do differently:
- The Variegated background thread has too much variegation. I am happy with the way the background turned out and am glad I chose a variegated thread as it makes the piece a little more interesting than it would otherwise, however I didn’t like the brown/green tones in the variegated thread and wish I chose a less variegated thread.
- I wish I would have used slightly variegated threads throughout. The lack of variation in the other threads on contrast is a little stark, and not true to the original.
- I wish I would have chosen a different color than the green on the tower. This was my most difficult decision and I don’t think I would have been happy with any color I chose.
All and all, the piece brings me endless joy to behold, as it is a masterwork in its completion. It is a crown of love which I will forever hold dear.