It’s always nice to take a break and see what other folks have been up to with their needle and thread, so today, let’s look at a reader’s embroidery project!
Particularly apt for the day, this is a piece of silk & metal thread ecclesiastical embroidery that Anne Gomes worked up for her church to use as part of a Lenten altar frontal.
Anne is proficient in Japanese embroidery – she’s the gal who worked up this video of twisting Japanese silks for us, demonstrating how to twist 4 strands of silk into one twisted thread. Using similar twisting techniques, she combined silk and silver threads for the filling stitches on this piece.
Besides Anne’s obvious skill with the needlework, what I really love about this piece is the combination of silver and white against the black background. The contrast is striking, and so much more preferable for this type of work (in my opinion) than gold on a black background.
In many examples today of ecclesiastical embroidery, gold on black tends to look a bit – well, chintzy. But I know this depends entirely on the types of threads used and the choice of ground fabric. I suppose I’ve seen too many examples of bright gold lurex thread on black polyester…
For the crown of thorns, Anne used a #8 Japanese silver thread, which she couched with purple Soie 100/3. It’s hard to believe that there is purple in the piece – it’s very subtle, and from far away, you can’t see it at all.
It’s not the only place on the project that Anne used purple, though.
For the nails, Anne twisted together silk and silver for the filling, then worked the long & short stitch for the body of the nail. On the head of the nail, she worked in a violet with the white and silver, to make the head of the nail darker. Due to the reflection of the light in the photo, the difference in the nail heads is more apparent on the other two nails.
If you look at the first photo above, you can see how the light picks up the white in the body of the nail, and how the darker head of the nail with the purple twisted in shows up against the white, especially on that top nail. It’s amazing to think that Anne didn’t stitch with ready-combined threads, but twisted all her threads together to get the exact nuances that she wanted.
The silk and the silver also demonstrate how the direction of stitching (again, note the heads of the nails) really makes a difference when the light plays off the threads.
And here’s the piece hanging in place on the altar frontal.
Because she was working under a time crunch, the piece has not yet been lined, but as soon as Lent is over, she plans to line the black silk to give the whole banner a sturdier finish.
Nice work, eh? And a good reminder of the striking contrast that can be achieved when combining white and silver on black silk. It’s so dramatic! Thanks for sending the photos, Anne!
Tomorrow, I think I will show you a finish (if all goes well today) and share some tips on putting together a simple little table mat for an Easter (or Spring) centerpiece.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for church embroidery patterns – or religious designs that can be used for other crafts, including paper crafts, card-making, and the like – feel free to check out Church Patterns: Book One available here on Needle ‘n Thread for instant download.
Enjoy your weekend!