Ecclesiastical embroidery is one of my favorite categories of hand embroidery – I love the combinations of goldwork and silk and shading seen in old samples of hand embroidery worked for the beautification of churches. I was cleaning out some picture files to make space on my computer, when I came across these photos and thought they would be appropriate to post today as good examples of figure embroidery, goldwork, and silk. I hope you like them!
These are two examples of different representations of the Sacred Heart, worked in gold metal threads and silk. The embroidery is perhaps not the finest ecclesiastical embroidery I’ve seen, but there are some notable points to both pieces.
A front view of this image does not show it off well, in my opinion, but there are elements of it that I think are really exquisite. For example, the effect of “light” around the Sacred Heart is very nice. Also, I like the gold on the robes. But the image looks better, I think, when seen from the side, which is curious.
This is the same image from the side. I think the face is more appealling from this angle.
I think the eyes are beautifully worked. Close up, they are even more impressive.
The image is set on cloth of gold, which is enhanced by a pattern worked in gold purl.
This is a different image of the Sacred Heart, and it is, in my opinion, not quite as nice as the one above. But the techniques are completely different. In the image above, the robes – in fact, the entire figure – is embroidered. In this image, the figure is made of appliqued fabric, which has been stitched over where shading is desired, to give the “look” of embroidery without the labor-intensiveness of hand embroidering the entire image.
The face on this image is solid flesh colored fabric. The shading is achieved by stitching darker flesh tones only where shading is desired. Sometimes, such pieces would actually be painted. The details of the face, for example, would be painted onto silk. The shading was then achieved primarily by the paint, and lines of stitches would be added to enhance the shading. But on this particular piece, the background of the face is flesh-colored silk which is not painted.
Anyway, I like looking at pieces like these to determine techniques and to get ideas. I hope you enjoyed seeing the photos!
Have a great weekend!