Working on some stitched examples of Mountmellick embroidery for a workshop I thought I’d use a coloured background. Traditionally of course this is a form of whitework, white on white, but as I wanted to take clear photos as teaching aids, a darker colour would show the stitching more clearly.
I had some hand-dyed cotton satin so worked on that and was delighted with the results. Not traditionally accurate by any means but very light and attractive – and does photograph well!
Saturday was the day of my workshop on ‘Stitches with Stories’ and last week was busy with making sure I had enough of the varied threads and fabrics for the group to use to work their samples.
I had planned the session to be a mix of telling the stories around the styles’ development and of practical activity, learning the stitches and working them in a small, typical design. The social contexts, and the reasons for development of these types, Mountmellick, Parma and Sorbello, were similar though at different times and in different countries. Wealthy and well-connected women created embroidery techniques that could be learned by the poor in their region to earn desperately needed money to help support their families. A crucial factor was that the initiator is not only ‘invented’ the embroidery and taught the skills but also used their status and connections to develop viable markets for the finished product.
Motif in Parma embroidery
In contrast, the final one we explored was Broderie Glazig, which is a continually evolving style originally used for embellishing the garments worked and worn by the ordinary people of a specific area in Brittany. Definitely brighter and livelier than the restrained colour schemes of the household linens intended for wealthy patrons!
Typical Glazig motifs
The day sped by, so much so for me that I completely forgot to take any photos of the many works in progress. Hopefully some of those there will send me pictures of their finished samples. Now to start looking forward to the next Workshop; a complete contrast as I’ll be offering different ways to get a third dimension above, or below, the flat surface of canvas work.