Despite wear and tear, this is a gorgeous piece of ecclesiastical needlework. In fact, most of the wear and tear, from a distance, isn’t noticeable – but when you look closely at the piece, you realize that there are parts that really need attention if it is to continue in use.
Christiana has undertaken the formidable task of repairing this cope hood so that it can be used again. I thought I’d show you some photos she sent along. I never tire of studying this type of work up close – the details always amaze me!
So this is a hand-embroidered element mounted on the back of the hood of a cope, which is a garment (like a cape) used in liturgical ceremonies. The image on the back of the cope is a representation of the Trinity – God the Father, the Holy Ghost (the Dove), and God the Son (the Lamb of God, or Agnus Dei).
Here’s a view of the whole piece of embroidery.
This is a close up on the face. I love examining faces. Look at the difference between the face from far away (in the first photo above) and the face close up. Who would’ve ever guessed there was a red line down the side of the nose and above the eyes?
Here’s a close-up on the crown and nimbus. It looks like the goldwork here is in very good repair, as you can see in the photo below:
But as you travel downwards in the design, the need of repair becomes more obvious, as seen below:
You can see the loose gold threads around the feet of the lamb, and the red cording hanging down (visible in the first picture above as well). You can also see in this photo – if you look in the colored folds of the garment – that some of the line stitching is loose there.
Here’s the face of the lamb up close. I have to agree with Christiana – I love the way they did the wool! You can see on the left side of the nimbus (halo) one of the threads tweaking off.
And I think this is great! This is Christiana’s set-up for repairing the cope hood. First, she had to separate the hood from the lining, picking out by hand all the little stitches in the fabric around the hood (which is cloth of gold – not an easy task!). Then she had to contrive a way to mount the piece so that she had both hands free to work, without mounting it in anything that would damage the fabric or the embroidered piece. She’s using a frame her dad made for her, which she’s wrapped in fabric to protect the cope hood and also, I imagine, it provides a bit of friction to keep the work in place. She clamped the sides of the frame together to hold the piece while she works, keeping an even tension on the piece, but not so tight that it’s pulling anything that’s already stitched.
By the way – yep, she’s stitching through the cloth of gold on which the piece is mounted. Talk about sore fingers!!
Keep up the good work, Christiana! I can’t wait to see the finished product! (I wish I could see it in person!)