the West Kingdom Needlework Guild

SHOW AND TELL

An Ansteorran Rose




From time to time we feature a particularly spectacular piece of needlework by a Guild member here for everyone to admire. Nominations are welcome. Pictures, please!


— by Giuliana di Benedetto Falconieri

One of the most common complaints I hear about beaded embroidery is that the common 11/0 glass beads used cannot be “period.” But even smaller beads are shown in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620 — beads 0.8mm (1 /32 of an inch) wide, which translates to a size 24/0, about the size of a large grain of sand! Pictures of gold and glass beads in historical beaded embroidery can also be seen on the Medieval Beadwork Page, www.medievalbeads.com.

The beads on my embroidery are all glass. I usually stitch with 22K gold charlotte beads. Charlottes are a very pretty bead that is flat on one side, and they add a bit of sparkle to the design, but I can’t find any reference to charlottes in period, so I used gold-colored round glass seed beads.

I used both modern and medieval methods of beaded embroidery. The flower and the star are done in the modern method, the backgrounds in the medieval method. The modern method (also known as Athabascan) consists of laying down six beads, couching them down, and then back-stitching through three of the beads before adding more. The period technique consists of laying down a strand of beads and couching them in place. The medieval technique is quicker, but the modern technique is more secure. The end results look identical on the front of the work.

closeup of beadwork of roseThe rose and rose background are done completely in 11 /0 beads. At 49 square inches, there are an estimated 11,760 beads on the front. I used gold beads, black beads, and two shades of green for the flower.

The background is done in silver-lined amber-colored beads. A lot of people think silver-lined beads aren’t period, but they were used in Italy during the later period of the Renaissance. Arts & Crafts in Venice by Doretta Davanzo Poli describes glass beads “filled with a special gold and silver paste.” There was also an especially prized type of glass bead called “avventurina,” a cinnamon colored or amber glass incorporating thousands of glittering specks which looked like gold. I thought these silver-lined beads might give a similar effect.

I used three shades of beads on the back of the bag: the darkest near the star. Getting the straight lines for the star was a bit difficult to do from only a chalk drawing, so I took a printed design, and stitched it to my fabric. Once that was done, I simply stitched over the outline of the star, and then ripped the paper away. The lines on the star were completely straight. Stitching onto paper in this manner is similar to several pieces of Medieval German beadwork, which were sewn with linen thread onto animal hide parchment.

Once completed, I appliquéd the beaded panels onto black cotton velvet. I outlined the appliqués with black and gold twisted cord and ended with a trimming of black bugle beads. My lining was yellow linen. I did a drawstring at the top, and put tassels on the drawstring. From start to finish, I put in over 500 hours worth of work.

back of pouch with star

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This particular web page last updated on November 12 2005.