I’m going to use my blog to document my casket design process so I’ll have a record. It’ll help me keep track of all the ideas storming around my brain. You are welcome to follow along.
To recap, I’m going to embroider my flat casket
In 17th century stump work
With images inspired by 19th century fairy paintings.
Last October, on the UK casket tour we saw caskets of every size, shape and style. Many of them are not on display so we got to go into back rooms and storage areas to see them.
DH and I took lots of pictures, but others on the trip took more and, through the tour leader, shared them with everyone who went on the trip. I’ve been going through the pictures slowly, one item at a time because the sheer number is overwhelming.
I know it seems counterintuitive, but several of the museums we visited put restrictions on sharing photos of items in their collections on the internet. So I now have a treasure trove of pictures of 17th century needlework pieces not readily available to the public and most of it I must keep to myself.
Hopefully, in the near future the museums will realize that when they make images of their collections available online they will attract a wider audience. I know that the Victoria and Albert in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and several other museums have already generously shared their collections online.
The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, Scotland was a treat to see, especially since they have now closed for a 4-year renovation. Among other structural problems, their roof leaked and there were buckets placed around the exhibits. While they are closed, they will be photographing their entire embroidery collection for online access. Yeah!
One of the caskets that stuck in my mind the most was this one that we saw at the Burrell. I want my casket to be fat with stumpwork so I found this one to be exuberantly inspiring.
Last week I spent several hours going through all 880 of the shared photos of this one casket. It seem that the other people on the tour got just as much inspiration from it as I did.
I can’t show photos that other people took. But since the Burrell did not require us to sign any sort of waiver to restrict sharing, I’d like to show you some of the photos DH and I took of this piece.
Let’s start at the top. On the tour, it was often hard to see items up close because people were taking so many detailed photos. Now, I really appreciate their diligence because the details are teaching me so very much.
In studying the 880 photos, plus ours, I noticed that many items on this casket were embroidered with simple french knots. On the top, the lady’s dress, the canopy over the gentleman, the fountain and one cloud were all stitched in french knots. On the other sides, I found french knots adorning hair, tree trunks, acorn caps, flowers, grapes and a flower bud that looks like a pink cauliflower.
French knots are easy. I can do french knots.
This is the back side. Another thing that stands out is the amount of bling that the stitcher added. Notice all the gems in the grotto.
Here’s one of the doors. I love the soft colors, but I don’t think the yellow and pink curtain works. It’s good to study these old pieces to learn what appeals to me and what doesn’t. It’s wonderful how the stitcher used different colors in the skirt to show the folds.
Here’s the other door. Don’t you just love the bulbous and suggestive “fruit”.
The inside design is similar to the doll-sized casket I made and is covered in bright pink velvet and silk with silver trim.
To see a few more photos, check out The Embroider’s Story, our tour leader and teacher Trisha Nguyen’s blog. In her posts here and here, she compares this casket with another one that has the exact same design, but was done entirely with flat, surface embroidery.