This beautiful piece of silk on silk embroidery has been safely rolled up for months, waiting for me to find the time to finish the project. I started it way back in March, 2020 . Here is a link to the first post I wrote about the pin cushion.
I was inspired by three different historical references. First and foremost is a petticoat thought to have belonged to Queen Anne of Denmark held in the collection of the Burrell Museum, Glasgow. Having seen and photographed the petticoat years ago when I was in Glasgow, I had access to close up photos that I had taken. This helps enormously when I’m working on an historically inspired piece.
Secondly, a painting of Elizabeth Vernon, the Countess of Southampton, which shows a large pin cushion her dressing table. Granted, it isn’t an embroidered pin cushion, but it is a very important part of getting dressed every day. Much of a woman’s dress, such as the one she is wearing, was held in place using pins. Just look at how many pins are in the pin cushion!
Thirdly, I again used botanical drawings from the Trevelyon’s Miscellany of 1608. It’s one of my favorite sources for designs as well as history.
In my imagination, the embroidery was meant to replicate a small piece of the petticoat that might have been found and turned into a pin cushion as a way to preserve the scrap of beautiful embroidered fabric.
It’s now been made into a pin cushion, filled with crushed walnut shells, trimmed with gold twist and ribbon tassels at each corner. It looks just as I imagined it would look. However, I’m not sure I’ll be putting any pins into it – ever!
I’ve been visiting the past more often during this time when we can’t go anywhere else with 100% safety. Through books, podcasts and research, I’ve travelled back to Tudor and Jacobean times and, on one of my travels, I came across the beautiful silver traveling canteen below. Isn’t it just stunning?
It’s believed that the canteen was a 21st birthday gift to Charles Edward Stuart. He brought the canteen with him to Scotland in 1745. The Duke of Cumberland captured the canteen on the field after the battle of Culloden in April, 1746. Cumberland then gave it to one of his aides, George Kepple, who kept it in his family until 1963. It was acquired by the National Museums Scotland in 1984, after a successful fundraising effort to ensure it remains in Scotland.
It is a beautiful object, with an association to one of the most romantic figures in Scottish history. (Sadly, the reality is less romantic by far…) Nonetheless, the thistle on the cup inspired me to created a new crewelwork design entitled “The Prince’s Thistle”.
Above is a color rendering of the design. As you can see, the stitches include my favorite – laid and couched lattice on the larger leaves. I’ll be using Turkey work for the top of the thistle, as have many other designers. There will be touches of silver in the design as a nod to the silver canteen and the workmanship of Ebenezer Oliphant, the silversmith who created the canteen.
The threads I’ll be using are my all time favorite threads from Catkin Crown Textile Studio – Heathway wool. I just love these colors! It’s going to be fun watching this come together over the next few months.
It’s been an unsettling few weeks. Not long ago I was taking care of one of my darling granddaughters and planning to go see the other darling granddaughter at the end of March. Now I’m not going to see either one of them for some time until we all feel it’s safe for all of us. I am thankful every single day that we live in the age of technology that allows me to see and speak to my family all over the world. It makes such a difference to be able to connect so easily to one another. I hope all of you are safe and staying isolated as much as is possible given your circumstances.
Last time I wrote about this project there weren’t many details to share! Since then – thanks to having LOTS of time inside to stitch- I’ve finished the project and am getting ready to assemble it. However, I want to share the process with you so, one step at a time…
Most of my needlework is historically inspired. In this instance, I’m using motifs from Thomas Trevelyon and have been inspired by a stunning piece of needlework in the Burrell Museum, Glasgow. When I was in Glasgow a few years ago I was lucky enough to see the piece. Its an embroidered red silk petticoat or skirt. You can see it on the museum’s website here.
29.314 COSTUME skirt England, London (place of manufacture) circa 1610-1620 silk, silk, metal, hand-stitched overall: 910 mm x 3130 mm Woman’s skirt in red silk satin embroidered with silk and metal threads in a border pattern of scrolling stems with flowers and insects. Historically said to have been made by Mary, Queen of Scots for Elizabeth I of England, but the style of embroidery is of a later date.
Apparently, the piece was later made into a panel – possibly an altar front – so it survived for us to see today.
Imagine, I thought, if it had not survived in such fantastic shape and had been cut up and made into smaller items, such as a pin cushion. We know that embroidered fabrics were reused over and over due to their value. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that something this fine could have been made into smaller items if it had been damaged.
Following this imaginary path, I decided to use red silk for the ground fabric and the silk and metal threads I showed you last time.
Transferring the design to the red silk wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be, due to the dark color of the fabric. I’m fortunate enough to have a fabulous LED lightbox and it makes transferring so much easier!
I backed the silk with calico to support the stitching and then mounted it on my slate frame. Then it was time to stitch!
Beginning with the strawberries, I, again, referenced the petticoat for stitch inspiration. The strawberries on part of the petticoat have tiny hair like stitches all around the edges. I decided to use that same idea, but use a DMC Diamant gold thread rather than silk.
Here’s the first strawberry with the little gold straight stitches along the outside edge. You can see the pencil guidelines for where I’ll change the shade of pink/red when I stitch the French knots. I’ve never had such trouble getting accurate color shots before but this red is proving tricky. Still, it’s so lush and beautiful in real life I don’t mind!
The first strawberry turned out just as I hoped it would! Sadly, the color of the red silk makes it very difficult to get good photos; the red of the fabric (on my monitor) is closer to the photo above, not below.