Sunday, May 16, 2021

Answering Challenges - Part 2

 Recently in the East Kingdome of the SCA a number of challenges were issued.  I decided to take up four of the challenges, with two projects.  This post discusses the second project [the first project is discussed in this blog post.

This second project was to answer Wool Applique Cushion by Sarah Davies and  "Ooo, Shiney!" - A Goldwork Embroidery Challenge by Amalie von Hohensee. The cushion challenge was for "a reading cushion, pin pillow, or similar project of appliqued wool, in the style of the 14th century Tristan hanging in London or the Jesse Wurzel in Branshweig." The referenced pieces are hangings, one of which I have had the opportunity to see at the V&A, though not too closely.  The Tristan hanging is a large wool applique hanging which has gilt leather couched at the edges of motifs. In addition to the many photos on the V&A website, I was fortunate enough to take some when I was in London, which can be seen here.  I mentioned to Mistress Sarah the similar, though somewhat different technique piece at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In further discussion about the availability of the gilt leather, a group's efforts to recreate a similar piece in Sweden. Armed with all of that information. I started looking for what to use for the gilt leather -- a goldwork form I have not tried before - with good reason, it is hard to find something to use. A friend also working on this challenge had excellent results with some purchased and cut down leather which she then gilded herself.  Then mostly by chance, I came across this item on Amazon. 

Having taken much more time than I planned on the first piece, I had little time for this piece.  I focused on "pin pillow" and decided that I could do within the time available. I raided the wool scraps available in my studio and pulled several out, together with assorted threads. 

Since I am familiar with the basics of applique, I knew I could turn those materials into a pin pillow.  The reference pieces, in addition to the large figures, have assorted floral motifs, so I decided to use a floral motif for my pillow.  I added also a frame for the top, to have more applique and more chances to play with the leather. 

With those laid down and stitched in place with silk running stitches, it was time for the leather.  I cut individual fringes off the bunch and worked them in my hands a little bit to make them a bit more pliable. Then I carefully couched the leather down around the main flower and the edges and corners of the frame.  I was pleased with how well the leather worked around corners and bends.  The thread used to couch the leather down was a gold color silk.  The threads show, but I believe they do not detract from the piece. 

Finally, I selected a fabric for the back of the pillow and made up an applique of my badge, which I also use as a "maker's mark" using silk thread to decorate and afix it to the back.  

I have not yet assempled the pin pillow, but I plan to use crewel wool to blanket stitch the pieces together, stuffing as I go. 

Summary and what I learned

I look forward to working in this form for a larger piece.  Perhaps adding the intarsia technique used in the piece at the Met and others. I have some of the leather obtained by my friend and I intend to experiment with that and my own gilding, as I think they may be closer to accurate. Perhaps in the future this will lead to a piece for Period Competency with Athena's Thimble. 

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