In mid-February I was one of several artisans asked to participate
in a project to create the cloak for Duchess Rowan's elevation to the Order of the Laurel.
Very few people know that I do embroidery, so I was doubly honored at being included in such an endeavor.
When I realized my work would be side by side with some of the best in the kingdom, I have to admit
I was more than a bit concerned that it would pale in comparison ...
but out of admiration and respect for the recipient, I jumped in the deep end. :-)
I was sent a pattern of a different style coronet and asked to modify it to have "strawberry leaves".
Aside from this, the only additional direction I was given was to keep it at the original dimensions (3.5 x 6 inches)
I immediately decided to do my piece in or nue (shaded gold).
It is an embroidery technique where gold thread is laid down and then couched over with silk threads to provide color and shading.
This would only be my second piece in or nue and it is a very time intensive style so I had no time to waste
I drew a pencil sketch to work from.
Then I pinned it to the silk I was using for the ground fabric
and transferred the design onto the silk with white dressmakers carbon paper.
The design in white on silk.
Even though the test piece worked with an archival quality fine line pigment marker, once under tension
the color ran on the silk.
Plan B - colored pencil
Although the lines aren't as crisp as I'd like, it's clear where I need to stitch in different
colors to acheive the shading I want.
To keep the lines of stitching straight I started part way up the design
I stitched from the base line to the bottom before starting to work upwards.
There are 3 main colors of silk thread used in this piece - brown, orange and yellow.
I also used red for the gems (dots) and black to outline some areas as a final step
It's easier to use multiple needles than carry threads across the back.
I was surprised to discover that I could manage up to 15 needles at once
The picture above shows me working with 11.
When I dropped down to using 7, what had seemed impossibly complex when I began
was actually a little monotonous.
My progress at the end of 5 days - working at least 9 hours a day.
I haven't been to the gym in over a week
and Hamburger Helper is about as complicated as dinners have been lately but...
here is what the project looked like at the end of 2 weeks.
The camera is on the fritz, so I scanned this.
I decided not to do the small leaves because the tight spaces would be a nightmare to finish.
I didn't feel this would be fair to the person who had the task of sewing this onto the cloak.
So that means .... all of the gold work is done. :-)
All I need to do now is outline a few things I want to see *pop* in black and sew pearls between the red dots.
Here's a picture of the finished piece.
I really like how the black split stitch makes parts of the design appear 3D.
At Ice Dragon, I passed the finished piece off to Mistress Alison of the Many Isles...the project mastermind :-)
She was in the process of collecting pieces and would be sewing them to the cloak in the next few weeks.
I am honored to have played even a small part in the creation of the cloak.
Both the outside ... and the inside ... are profuse with hand made appliques.
As it was placed around Her Grace's shoulders I couldn't help but think of the skill, effort and man hours that went into it...
not to mention the obvious display of respect and admiration for someone so greatly deserving.