Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Steeple Aston Cope

This is my Angel Embroidery ,which I embroidered , the design taken from the 14th century Steeple Aston Cope .

 I dont have a picture of the actual Steeple Aston Cope to show you ..but you can find out a bit more on other websites too ..... although having said that...I couldn't find as much as I would have liked .
  The Steeple Aston Cope , it is thought was made between 1310 and 1340 .
Beautifully embroidered , it was a  long semi-circular cape to be worn by bishop or priest maybe in procession or ceremony .. Holy Mass of a feast day of which there were many more observed back then than today .
 This precious treasure has been miraculously kept safe in the Church of St Peter and St Paul at Steeple Aston for seven hundred years !
 Seven hundred years of history . Wars , plagues , fire and floods , upheaval of the church and Cromwell's rampaging and plundering .....not to mention England's inclement weather.
 Threads of linen and fine silk dont last forever .... beetles , woodworm and mould .
  I have no idea when  , but at some point in time . someone thought " to make better use of it "  ....... and cut it up to make an Altar Frontal ..I,m sure it was very beautiful ...and must have been left on display on the Altar ....but the vicar became aware that it was in danger ..people were coming in and trying to snip pieces off of it ...and  so he arranged for it to be kept safely , on loan at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London .
 I believe that it is occasionally brought back to St Peter and St Paul's Church in the village of Steeple Aston to be put on display ...and quite rightly , they should be so proud !

So I first came across it  , a picture in a library book .
   It was a picture of only a small section of it ....an Angel on horseback , playing a lute .
 Well , I became enchanted with it  ..and thought that I would like to have a go at stitching it .

                  Look at the sweet expression on the horse's face !  I fell in love !
......and on a small scrap of upholstery fabric I drew it on with my pencil and with DMC cotton ,a few gold threads and beads .

 I began to work....and as I worked , I found myself meeting minds and thoughts of the medieval hands that originally drew and embroidered it .

 I looked forward to any odd minute that I could grab to sit and embroider it ...I didnt think I would do so much of it , or I would have used a larger piece of material .

I enjoyed making the tiny tassels on the horse bridle and across his chest I stitched a kind of braid, weaving it as I stitched .
 The halo around the Angel's head I stitched with gold threads .
The lute has playable strings !

In both embroidery and illumination , I love the medieval sense of humour !
   This kind of English Ecclesiastical embroidery is known as Opus Anglicanum .
The reason I haven,t finished it is I am uncomfortable about putting in in a frame. ... I dont think it would look right somehow . I dont think medieval textiles were ever made to be displayed the way we do today , hung in a frame covered with glass . Wall hangings were hung just as they were and church vestments , albs, copes and altar cloths were worn and then stored carefully away in oak coffers in the Sacristy of the church or cathedral .
 I ,m thinking of working it some more , out onto the green fabric and maybe make a devotional piece of some kind ... any ideas ?
 I hope you enjoy my needlework pictures and that you might now have a go at this . I wish you a beautiful Christmas !
                                Debbie x

Friday, 6 December 2013

Making Holly Wreaths

My thumb still sore from whittling  ....what was I thinking doing that yesterday , when I have so much to catch up on with  all the Christmas preparations .
  I always make my own holly wreath and a couple extra to give to friends .
Apart from prickling my poor hands all over..they really are so easy to make .
 I just keep it very simple , tying in two or three long  flexible strands  with string....wire if I have some ... weaving them together ..may be adding another branch or two . Sometimes I add ivy ....this time I just tied on some red  ribbon . ..and a long length of string to tie to the hook on  the door .......

.........or the gate !

The sun was shining this morning , so it was nice to be out in the garden doing a bit of tidying and making holly wreaths .

My broom needed a bit of maintenance , the tarred string I prefer to use doesn't last too long ...... a little gold thread and red ribbon should make it fly faster ..well I,ll give it a try !

                                                 Bibbity Bobbity Boo !

................. and then we switched on the Christmas lights on our little tree in the cottage window ......

......and only seven of the teeny tiny light bulbs came on ..tut... It will just have to do !  : )

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Maritime thread winders !

 Back in the summer I had a go at carving a spoon , a couple of very simple crucifixes , a few nalbinding needles and a medieval lucet .  My father and his father before him were great carpenters..I could never be that good ! ...but whilst growing up just watching in the wings so to speak , I also love wood ....the look of it ...the smell of it and am having fun with it in a more humble way....the way of whittling !  So , along with what I,ve seen my father do , I am pretty much teaching myself .
 I have a simple sort of steel pocket knife which was easy to find in Wesley's hardware shop in Helston , it has replaceable blades , and folds up safely in my pocket .
I also invested in a treasure of a knife made by Ray Iles . It is curved for carving spoons .
 In the photo above .

 I am carving myself some jolly maritime thread winders in the shape of whales !

I make a little cut for the whale's mouth.... to catch and hold the end of the thread .It must all be smoothed with sandpaper and I really need to work on smoothing them some more .

I will use navy blue permanent pen to mark the whale's eyes on both sides Scrimshaw style...and give them a coat of " Traditional Treatex Hardwax Oil " which I bought online ...it brings out the beautiful natural colour of the wood .

 My tools.... and a few precious threads waiting to be organised .

How nice he would be wound round with blue thread , like a beautiful Blue Whale !
 He looks a little hungry ! : )

I could make a "Stargazey pie" of thread winders !  Actually  I need to make quite alot more to organise all my threads !      I hope you,ll be inspired to have a go at simple whittling . Keep warm ! x

Winter Whittling Me

I dont think that the weather will be anywhere near so bad here in Cornwall , as you are having up North . I,m feeling so sorry for you all up in Scotland where thousands are waking up to find they have no electricity.
We have been bringing in more firewood for our fire and as I sit whittling...I am thinking of you and pray it will pass over soon .
 I pulled this chunk of wood from the pile of split logs in the woodshed and with my little knife whittled into three not quite equal pieces . I do everything by eye and it really does not matter to me that these are going to be all slightly different sizes .

Whittling , whittling , whittling .... any ideas of what I might be making ?  Apart from a sore thumb that is  !  : )