A New Project!

I've just finished a project I've been threatening to do for some years, namely to make a new angel for our Xmas tree. The old one is 18 years old, and was made in something of a rush. It's been looking sad for a few years, and every year I have said "I must make a new angel" and every year I have forgotten or got too involved in other stuff. This year Hull and East Riding New Stitchers (HENS) have a tree in Beverley Minster for their Christmas festival, which I think is the weekend of 9-11th December. So members have been making Xmas decorations all year to put on the tree. I'm not good at making quick 'knick-knacks' - all my stuff tends to be too detailed for that, but I had a brainwave. Kill two avians with a single projectile: make a new angel and let HENS use it for the tree!

I made a Dresdenwork angel with some gold stitching, using a dolls-house doll. It has worked out quite well, although the picture is not very good. The light at the HENS meeting was not great for photos (mild panic, as I hadn't photographed it before the meeting).

So - I needed a new project!

One aspect of my love of historical embroidery is looking at the stitching on the original pieces. It brings on my (mildly?) competitive streak, as I try to measure my skills against those ancient stitchers. This struck with a vengeance after my visit to the V&As Opus Anglicanum exhibition the other week. Getting close to those beautiful pieces was wonderful! To be able to see the details of the stitching and designs was amazing, and the detailed photos in the accompanying book include some pictures of the backs of the stitching. The book is an excellent buy, very detailed. It has been deliberately written as a definitive text on the subject, and they have succeeded very well.

One of the things I need to work on over the next few months is a lecture on Opus Anglicanum - I have two bookings for it for next year. That was one reason for visiting the exhibition while in London. As part of that, I want to make a sample of OA-style work, so I have something to show people of what it looked like. Obviously, having a real original piece is WAY out of my budget!

So my new project is a small piece of Opus Anglicanum embroidery. It's based on a design I have from a facsimile pattern book from the 15th century, which shows Saint Margaret of Antioch emerging from the belly of a (rather dead!) dragon. She refused her father's command to marry, so he threw her to the dragon, but her cross irritated its belly and it burst open after three days, releasing Saint Margaret unharmed and apparently not even bloody!

I have managed to make a start on the piece, which is stitched on some rather nice linen I acquired at HENS last month. I've got as far as marking it out and framing it up, and I've started with the dragon, outlining it in split stitch - picture below. About 5 hours work so far. I will keep you posted, Dear Reader, on my progress!

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