Or Nue to the East!

Go East Young woman and give a really really hard working man a really cool pin.  Okay, so I am not young but I still was able to make a friend in Boston happy by making him my first, ever, piece of Or Nue.

Or Nue is a technique of gold work in which you lay metallic threads horizontally along the fabric and stitch colored silk over the metal in order to form a picture in your needlework.  It is a technique that many shy away from thinking it is too difficult or to fiddly to attempt.  I’m here to show you that patience will allow you to succeed with this technique and with that you can tackle it easily.

To start I drew the intended design on a piece of paper to size to get the handle on how I wanted the shading to work in the image.  In choosing my ground fabric you want something with a tight weave. My first attempt of this I, mistakenly, used a wider weave linen which was strong but would have lead to uneven lines and a distorted image overall.  Here is an image of the mistart.

mistake Note the wide, uneven weave and the beginnings of variation in the silverwork of the bottom of the piece.

So, back on the right heading I found a tighter weave fabric and traced the outline of my design onto the fabric.


Note the more even weave and tighter overall look of the fabric.  This outline would be fine if I was going to free embroider the image but in this case, we add to the design from right to left across on every line all colors associated with that line.  To make the job easier we want our “comic” to have the colors of our final piece.


Shading and colors are added, the fabric is tight on a wooden frame and we are ready to begin our work.

metalfumbleWhen your design is the size of a quarter you need to find a metallic thread which is neither to large or too small to set your design out.  Not having the perfect size in a single strand I took a twisted silver thread and separated it, using only one of the lengths.

Once you lay down your silver you take your silk stranded floss and couch it down at regular intervals until you reach a part in the design where you must start adding color.  Like many tapestry weaving you can keep your colors on needles and “live” without tying them off as you use them.  Waxing your threads, at this point, also helps to keep down the dangers of stranded floss.


You can see the design in progress here with at least four colors active on the piece.  At this point in the progress of the item you don’t notice much variation in the metal horizontal strand. That variation is caused by many things.  Most regularly it’s caused by lack of even tension throughout the piece.


Here you see the final image and it’s measure in centimeters.  Clicking and looking carefully at the piece you will notice that I was not  exempt from the dreaded wobble of the metal threads.  I identified my cause as being the lack of regulation of silk thickness used to wrap the silver threads.  This was a mistake of a beginner in this craft as I had not yet learned to separate  stranded silk evenly.

Now finished, I had to prepare the piece for mounting on a metal backed pin.  To prepare the concave pin back I had to pad it with circular pieces of wool capping it off with a piece of cardboard to keep the embroidery from bowing outwards.


Taking the piece, itself, I put it on the cardboard backing and used white glue to attach it to the front of the pin and then the back saturating the cloth with glue.


To cover the ugly back I cut a piece of black felt and glued it over the back.


After trimming you can see nothing but the metal piece itself.


The final piece after it has dried


I will admit that this small piece seemed to be the first step of many for me along the road of or nue.  I loved the technically difficult nature of this medium and already have my next piece planned out for design once my calendar clears up a bit.



The Gift for my Parents

Last Christmas I decided I would make a nice painting for my parents wall.  This would be a recreation of a page from the “Worms Bible” from Germany in the later part of the 12th century.  The piece was dramatic and had enough gold to catch the eye.  It also depicted the creation of light and the creation of eve so it was a nice religion neutral sort of image.

This is the extant piece I used as my exemplar


If you wish to read more about this page you can find it at the British Library’s page here. http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=7861&CollID=8&NStart=2803

I painted this illumination on pergamentata with watered gauche and tube gold.  While I used period techniques to transfer the pattern and paint it I did not use period pigments as it was just for a gift.  Sadly, because it was a gift I did not document my steps as I usually do so you will have to settle with final pieces only.

blogbible(click to see a larger image)

To ensure it’s longevity I had it professionally matted and framed. I was happy with the way the whole thing came out.


A Cope for a Rat of Most Excellent Pedigree

There are times when I offer my talents up for an assignment and hope that the recipient accepts my offer.  This project was one of those times.  I was lucky enough to have Rich Templeman accept my offer.  “Uncle Rat”, as most of my friends know this man, is a friend to many of my friends, my households, and my kingdom.  When I heard that he was to get an award for craftsmanship I jumped at the chance to make him a memorable garment to show his newly gained award.

Seeing as Rich lived on the West Coast it made sense that linen was to be the best fabric to make this out of.  Being that he already had a cloak I optioned to make him a cope, or shoulder cape, which he could wear over his cloak to show all of his earned peerages together.  After speaking with him and learning he did not receive a cloak for his elevation to the Pelican I knew adding one of those to the cope would help round out the design.

When I take on a project I, first, jump into photoshop and set my designs to the screen.  The size, color and designs are all set out here so in printing the design i print the elements to size in order to cut out my wool and silk pieces.


As with all first engagements this picture didn’t survive to become the final piece, only bits and pieces of it did.  I put together the Cope itself, next, and once I had it together realized that there was no way that I could cut out and applique so many of those leaves as I had planned in the design. Scrapping the extended laurel wreathe  I decided that individual ones would be more striking to the piece overall.


In the back, center, of the cope I placed a felted wool pelican’s head detailed with gold silk and outlined in gold passing thread.  Two garnet stones mark the blood drops of the sacrificing pelican.


Surrounding the pelican head I added the first laurel wreathe, once again, garnets are sewn onto the fabric to represent laurel berries. An interesting note about this is that the “stem” of the laurels are actually lucet cords with the leaves being hand felted wool appliqued down with the same wool used to make the stems.


Oh the front of the cope I sewed invisible clasps and set the “Ermine Vermin” which are Rich’s main heraldic charge To either side so they would be foremost in position.  Placing another set of laurel halves around each rat so when closed it would form a full wreathe.


This is a more detailed view of the rats before I took them off of the embroidery frame.


Lastly, here is a copy of the Cope from a distance showing Rich’s heraldic colors and the reversed collar.

The Grouping of Ice Dragon Entries.

Here I will just list images of the items I entered in the Ice Dragon A&S Competition of 2013.  In the future I will devote a full entry to these entries separately with more in-depth review.

A bit of background as I post these entries though. It was suggested to me that a good lesson would be to actually make the tools which I would, in turn, use to make many of my entries or parts of my entries.  These first images are the collection of Fiber tools which I used to do the weaving on both the hood and gifting bag.

mainimage finalshots

Here you can see of bone, a seam smoother, a beater for weaving, a bone needle, and a bone drop spindle whorl.  In wood, there are tablet weaving cards.  I had never worked in either bone or wood before I took on these projects. At the display I had spun a length of wool on the spindle to show it working. I will take a separate picture of that once I bring my entries inside once more.


This is a 14th century hood with three card tablet woven edges, hand made cloth buttons, and the button holes finished with hand spun wool from the spindle.


This is a step by step image of how I attached the tablet weaving to the edge of the hood.


A step by step of how I make my fabric Buttons from the above hood.


This is an early 16th century gifting bag in wool, with a linen lining. Covered in gold work and semi precious stones. The design was taken from an English wall tapestry in silk and gold.


This is a 22inch wide applique medallion which was attached to the back of a cloak for an elevation ceremony. It is done primarily in wools on a cotton brocade base. The applique of the laurel wreath is cut work in the plaid while the heraldic device in the center is applied applique in wool with silk detail.

Fun With Fiber

Fiber. It’s all around you and these days most of it is machine made.  I care little about the modern methods of creating it, what really gets me is how it was manipulated and used to create beautiful and useful things in our past.  Don’t expect profound but, here, I will try to document some of my creations in fiber over the years and answer questions of creation and replication for folks.  Over the  years I have used facebook for this function but I know some people avoid that medium like the plague.

Well, be welcome and enjoy the ongoing experiments.