experimental Or Nue
Another new project – two in one week – eek!
This one comes under the heading of “Thing I do at shows” I already have one project to work on at events, but its very large (it’s on a 2foot by 4foot frame) and I wanted something smaller that I could carry around with me at events where I’m not necessarily taking along a tent and a full living history display, so I thought i’d muck around with Or Nue, as I quite like a bit of goldwork now and then.
I’m using one of the frames I got from Sy – the small one, which is only about 12 inches square on the outside. I hemmed a leftover bit of the linen I used for my tudor smock, and laced it to the frame with some rather lurid yellow linen thread that was lying around. It’s laced pretty much drum tight, and made a satisfying noise when tapped – I may work without a frame a lot of the time, but when I do use one I like very high tension.
Next I sketched on the design in pencil. I wanted something small to start off with, although I would like to do a larger piece in this technique at a later date, and I have in mind a figural piece. I’ve been thinking about the subject for almost a year now, trying to come up with something small enough, then a catalogue from Moliero dropped through my door. Somehow I managed to get on their mailing list, although I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford one of their books. This particular catalogue was advertising a new reproduction of the book of hours of Anne of Brittany, and I fell in love with the botanical borders – they’re perfect – right date (c15th) suitable to be broken into tiny pictures, and what’s more the plants and flowers are painted on a gold-leaf background so I had an initial impression of how they would look in Or Nue.
It still took me ages to decide which to play with though. I loved the cherries, but I don’t have a red enough silk to do them justice, and I was drawn to all the pieces with ladybirds because they were so cute. But in the end I went with lillies because they’re my favourite flower – I grow more than a hundred in my postage stamp sized garden, and Gareth says in summer he can smell my house before he sees it.
Of course, I don’t grow this particular variety of lily. The medieval lily, lillium candidum, or madonna lily, doesn’t play well with other lillies – it harbours a virus which, although harmless to candidum, obliterates the more modern asiatic and oreintal types.
But it’s still a lily, and that’s good enough for me.
Next came the paint.
Last time I bought fabric paint I was about 8, and it was disgusting, sticky stuff that was horrible to work with, but happily fabric paint has moved on since then. I Didn’t want to spend a fortune, however, and buying actual paint would have meant buying brushes as well(I didn’t want to risk using my watercolour sables), and even half decent brushes are horrifyingly expensive, so I opted for four felt tips – hence the sketchy look of my painting. I had to buy an iron though, so I opted for a travel one, which will take up less space and be handy for small things, which is mainly what I want to iron. I balanced it on a cake tin so that I could iron it on the frame.
Then I popped it in a box and took it to Tatton park. John is making me a lovely red leather satchel to carry it in, but he isn’t quite finished it yet, so box it was.
I was concerned that working outside at an event, I would loose my spool of gold thread if it rolled away – especially as I don’t have one of those fancy japanese square ended goldworking bobbins, so I made a wotsit.
I should say that I have no authenticity grounds for my wotsit whatsoever, other than common sense, but I have to say that it was damned brilliant, and I’m going to make one for my other frame as well.
It started with a hoop and piece of scrap silk
I was so pleased with it that I raved about it to all the nice people who came to see what I was up too, leading to some very funny looks from said nice people who obviouslt thought I should be talking about the actual embroidery instead.
Speaking of which…
I got started and realised that the random assortment of needles that I’d grabbed from the drawer on my way out of the house were mostly too big, which meant that on Saturday afternoon I ended up wandering around Knutsford in costume, looking for a craft shop.
I can’t say that I was particularly diligent over the course of the weekend (not least because I’d forgotten to pack a cushion and my chair is none to comfy without it, leading to me using any excuse to wander off and talk to people rather than actually sew) but I made a start. I also made a mental note to make myself a boring cushion that can live in live in the back of the van in case of emergencies.
I used some old metal thread (I never use that plastic rubbish, it’s horrible in every way), and naturally dyed silk floss from the mulberry dyer mixed in with a couple of other flosses that weren’t naturally dyed but were the right sort of colour.
I was hoping to get as far as the butterfly’s backside by sunday afternoon, but I wandered off and did some shopping instead.
I’m reasonably happy so far. I enjoy the technique, although I do think having at as a weekend project is perfect, as its best done in small doses.
My main niggle is that I don’t think the green shows up well enough against the gold, but I don’t have another green so I’m trying to use the background shadow to contrast against it.
I’m at home for the next few weekends, and although I am planning to try and go to Tewkesbury this year, I don’t think I’ll get much done there, so Next update on this will probably be mid July, after the IMC