attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle...

I think I was supposed to be working on a QC project this morning, but I haven't heard from the guy in charge...  Maybe I should check.

Or maybe I should sit here and blog.

Ah, choices.

The design work is going well - so well, in fact, that I should have at least two nightcap designs in kass_rants 's hot little hands before Holiday Faire.  Eadric and Kass will be selling my stuff (knitted purses, lacing cords, patterns), and I'll be in the Vortex (now reaching epic proportions), selling jewelry. 

Whoo!  Making and selling!  It's awesome!  I'm already seeing the results of selling coif patterns - here is a gorgeous interpretation of one of my coifs by my friend Cindy:

The designing is fun - the coifs were my fairly faithful interpretations of original pieces, but the nightcaps and subsequent patterns will be original designs, created with period elements, and faithful to the decorative style of the period. 

(I created an awesome frog design from a period embroidery, you guys!  Eep, feet!  Paws!  Eep!  It will be on the nightcap that features lots of little creatures.)

(Yes, I'm designing a nightcap with lots of little creatures.  Are you excited now?)

I spend a lot of time researching, and not just from the period sources - I keep a constant eye out on what modern embroiderers are doing and publishing, because I don't want to tread on the toes of anyone else (or be accused of copying their designs).  It's actually very useful research - one of the things it's telling me right now is that there's a lot of geometric redaction going on in blackwork patterns, but not as much of the free-hand style that is so quintessentially English.  I plan to remedy that.  *excited* 

(Individuals are doing lovely work with various styles of embroidered work, but the patterns available for English Tudor/Stuart work are few and far between, especially in laid out and ready to embroider form.)

Blackwork is actually a very popular modern embroidery technique - many patterns exist, and there are some beautiful things out there.  The only thing I find over and over again is that the linen ground used by modern embroiderers is actually too coarse to support the 16th-17th century style - the weave is regular to help show off the incredible variety of fill stitches popular in blackwork, but the nature of the ground material makes it look just a little bit off.   Most modern embroidery is too big and well-spaced out.  Period embroideries are crammed with design, and in some cases, so finely worked, they look like engravings. 

Embroiderers prefer the evenweave linens, in part because of the slub free texture, but also because the threads are far enough apart that the fill stitches show nicely.  This is not the case with the period ones - I have done thread counts on a number of pieces, and they are frequently 75-100 threads per inch (or, incredibly, more.  I found one that was (sorry, I fail)  EDIT: 150 120 t.p.i.).  The linen they use is very fine - in at least one case, almost transparent - which supports the really delicate nature of some of their fill stitches and speckling.   The period "blackwork" (i.e., monochrome silk embroidery) is often embellished with gold stitching, but even with heavier polychrome sticthing, the thread count of period linen remains remarkably high.  It's easier to do delicate curls and free-hand style embellishments with a finer linen - the thread doesn't slip through the weave, and the tighter threads support the needlework better.

This lack of fine, tight, evenly woven linen has affected the design aesthetic of modern blackwork needlework designs - even the designs that originally were freehand seem to be re-created with a counted stitch outline, giving them a very even, ever-so-slightly geometric look.  With my designs, I'm trying to give a more free-flowing look to the embroidery, independent of the weave of the linen.  The plus side of this is that you can use a linen with slubs; unless you go mad with the fill stitches, the thread should travel over the slubs with no difficulty.

My goal as a designer is to bring that aesthetic to my patterns.  Modern patterns are too evenly spaced, too geometric, and generally, too open to feel like the embroideries of the Elizabethan/Stuart eras.  I've studied the modern pieces, and I've studied the period ones, and I think at this point I'm fairly confident that I can branch out from redacting patterns to creating entirely new ones of my own, and I'm really excited about that.  I feel like I did the day I realized I could write my own lyrics for songs, rather than trying to find poems of the period and trying to fit them to music.

I really love being in this creative space; it takes a bit out of me (I have Lidocaine patches on both upper arms today, and they're doing their job quite nicely), but it's worth every drop of energy.  I'm really looking forward to producing more patterns for all of you.

Okay, I'd better see if I can find out what's up with the QC.  *hums happily*
Tags: art, drawing, embroidery, research, shop

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