Opus anglicanum sample
This is my version of traditional Opus Anglicanum work.
By the 13th century English ecclesiastical embroidery - Opus Anglicanum - was unrivalled in Europe. Embroidery was developing in the Church, at the same time as the associated work of illuminating manuscripts. The techniques employed in these embroideries were quite unique: couching in gold and silk for the grounds and representational figures worked in split stitch.
I didn't try to replicate the method using gold and silk. I used a piece of natural linen. The gold work is underside couching in jap gold and the figure is split stitch in flower threads. The coloured circle is worked in split stitch in one strand of crewel wool. I traced the face on to a piece of crystal organza, tacked it to the linen and after I worked the embroidery I cut off the surplus. (13th c. embroiderers would have used silk gauze).
I unravelled the linen threads around the embroidery and applied it to another, coarser, piece of evenweave linen that I was using as a sampler, using one of the traditional methods of attaching a 'slip', by weaving the unravelled threads into the backing fabric.
The design was very loosely based on the pictures in the Book of Kells.
I tried it because I was interested in the traditional techniques, but I wouldn't do it again! We have easier ways to do these things now.