Elizabethan Metal Thread Embroidery

December 2010 – At Aarnimetsä Academy in November 2010 I held a workshop in Elizabethan Metal Thread embroidery, a lecture inspired by a project I started earlier in the year. I am making a reproduction of a coif that exists in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, accession number T.28-1975. The original is worked in black silk and gold metal thread. The pattern is a number of coiling vines which contains 12 different kinds of blooms. Like many similar extant items the vines are outlined in silk, and filled in with the metal thread. This kind of embroidery uses a number of stitches which are designed to maximize the amount of thread on the face of the fabric, and minimize the amount that needs to go on the back. My main inspiration for doing such a project came from the Plimoth Plantation Embroidery Project, which after two years has resulted in a reproduction of an extant jacket, filled all over with polychrome silk thread embroidery, and with vines filled in with metal thread embroidery.

The handout is now edited and finished enough that I can post it. The diagrams in the handout are made by Tricia Wilson Nguyen who produced the stitch diagrams for the Plimoth Jacket project, by Baroness Felicitas Schwartzenbergin and by myself. It also includes a few close-ups that I took of the extant original which I have worked from.

After finishing the coif and forehead cloth for Double Wars 2011, and eventually doing the write-up for an article it has now been published in the Kingdom’s newsletter and I can at long last put the article online here to share with everyone else.


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