If you’re relatively new to Needle ‘n Thread, you might not know that my first forays into advanced embroidery techniques came about due to an interest in historical ecclesiastical embroidery. I was taking a history of art class in my early days in college, and one of the works of art I chose to research was a piece of ecclesiastical embroidery. I chose it not so much because it was embroidery – rather, I chose it because it was beautiful and because it was different from the more common artistic mediums my classmates were focusing on.
Over time, with a bit of study, a lot of experimentation, and making contacts in all kinds of interesting corners of the globe, I amassed an interesting collection of pieces, books, pattern portfolios and the like, along with many tidbits of information on the hows, whats, and whys of ecclesiastical embroidery.
From all that sprang a love and appreciation for hand embroidery, which I had dabbled in as a kid and through college, but never really saw as art until captivated by that first research project.
In ecclesiastical needlework, all the elements of the art of embroidery – and any art, really – come together. Purpose, technique, materials, thought, skill, symbolism, color, balance, beauty, proportion, order – you can find all these things in ecclesiastical needlework, whether you’re religiously minded or not. It is a fascinating medium to study, especially when it comes to the development and dissemination of historical needlework techniques.
Since it’s Good Friday, let’s take a close look at some pieces of Ecclesiastical (religious) figure embroidery that have crossed my path lately. The figures are somewhat similar in some ways, but vastly different in others. We’ll look at the differences and draw some conclusions.
Continue reading “Comparing Figures in Ecclesiastical Embroidery”