Margaret Hamilton of Stirlingshire

Late 14th Century Tabby Weave Plaid Fabric

Description 

A sample of wool cloth based on an extant textile excavated from Baynard’s Castle.  Nearby finds were portions of a sleeve; based on the weight and patterning I am presuming this was fabric used in an item of clothing. This fabric will be replicated and enough woven to create a cotehardie.


Pattern was created from the extant piece pictured on page 20 of Textiles and Clothing book (Crowfoot, Pritchard, and Staniland) as well as the  archaeological drawing of the same (page 51). I translated those two connected pieces to the two colours I am using – Harrisville Shetland Wool Aster and Blackberry, simulating the two colours, light and dark, found on the extant piece. I counted out each thread in the picture both vertically for the warp and horizontally for the weft. The extant piece is not a very wide item, the maximum size of the pieces composing this piece is 10.0 cm by 5.0 cm. (Baynard’s Castle . 1499 Dock Deposit. Textiles. 1. Fragments dress details) Some repeating of pattern can be suggested in the surviving pieces.


Archaelogical record

172[150]<3596>TB183, Figure 38C, Plate 3B, dye tested

Baynard’s Castle (BC72)

                                Dock construction, 2nd quarter 14th century

                                NB: Nos 1-153 all have the archaeological context number [250]

(Page 205 Textiles and Clothing)

                Site code (BC72)

                Archaelogical context number [150]

                Accession number <3596>

TB signifies that a textile come from a deposit of the late 14th century.


The textile fragments consisting of this piece were uncovered at the location of Baynard’s Castle in London, UK. The castle was built in the 11th century by authorization of William the Conquerer then given to Ralph Baignard. It passed through various owners, including Henry VI, VII, and VII, and was used at times as royal residences. The castle was rebuilt a few times and burnt down in the Great Fire of London and subsequently buried. Excavation started in the 1970’s and continued in various stages till the mid-1990’s.



Site of Baynard’s Castle in modern London. Map courtesy of Wikipedia entry  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baynard%27s_Castle

Site is near the Thames River, close to the current Millenium Bridge, and was a dock area. The area seems to have been used as a dumping area in which tailors’ waste, rug fragments and blanket fragments, as well as dress fragments and various textiles, pottery, and tools were found. (Excavation archive source: EXCAVATION RECORDS [MOL], BC 72. MOLDUA Marsden, P”)

The fragments were buried with other pieces disposed of over time, including a fragment of a sleeve with buttons and tailors’ waste. I presume these fragments were from a dress, possibly given to a servant as part of preparation for a great celebration, such as Christmas, or their annual reimbursement.

“Almost all the indoor servants were given 3 ells of coloured shortcloth, together with 3 ells of striped cloth for their suits.”( P 67 Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince: Christmas 1360 English great wardrobe account for King Edward III)

Cloth was noted as an annual reimbursement of services. For example, “More senior royal falconers rode on horseback and received annually a ‘cotam’ and ‘cloca’ of 5 ½ ells of striped cloth and lambskin. All those who went on foot received only 3 ells of striped cloth.” (P230 Collectanea Londiniensia)

Prices for fabric listed in the Great Wardrobe Account show that there was variety in the prices and during times of limited supply (years 1352, 1355, and 1358) more would have been paid. (p. 69 Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince)


A listing of prices in 1343 (p. 138-9 Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince).

Woolens 1343 E101/390/1

                                In grain, per cloth     

                                                Mixed, brown(?)/red     pounds 8.  13.4

                                                Mixed acol                          pounds 9.  0.0.

                                                                Lengths 28 ells

                                Brussels longcloth

                                                Mixed red/brown            pounds 4.  0.0.

                                                Mixed acol                          pounds 4.  0.0.

                                                Mixed red/brown            pounds 6.  13.4.

                                                                Lengths 28 ells

                                striped clothes

                                                Red,brown,white             pounds 2.  0.4.

                                                ‘divers’ colours                  pounds 2.  6.8.

                                         White stripes, acol ground and pattern  pounds 2. 6.8.

                                                                Lengths 24 ells

That the fragment was disposed of indicates that for some reason it was no longer valued, probably due to great wear and tear.

Construction of Cloth

Loom

In period a warp-weighted loom could have been used to create the textile, in which the ‘bottom’ end of the vertically placed warp has some form of weight attached to keep tension, or a counter-balanced treadle loom which meant the warp was situated horizontally. There is no current information as to the loom thought to have made this specific fragment.

The warp-weighted loom is a type of loom which could have easily made the tabby, or plain weave, pattern and is closer in style to the rigid heddle loom I used for this piece. Rigid Heddle loom has a rigid heddle where the reeds are all connected in one heddle as opposed to ‘strung’ on a beam separately and individually moveable.

On a Warp-Weighted loom the bottom of the warp threads is attached to a weight. These weights could be made from clay, as discovered from the 11th century in Novgorod, and weigh in at about a pound each. (p.16  Medieval Clothing and Textiles:4) In one study it is calculated that the weight equals to 40 grams per thread. (Loom Weights, Spindles and Textiles. Stolcova and Gromer) Basically the weight would need to be enough to resist the effects of the weaver upon the warp threads. The shed for the Rigid Heddle loom is created by positioning the heddle in either the up or lower position.

For a plain weave only two (2) sheds are used. The shed is opened by movement of the heddle, this creates a passage within the warp threads for the weft thread. The weft thread in period is often a softer thread, or less tightly wound; the strength of the fabric comes from the warp threads (P33. Textiles and the Medieval Economy: Production, Trade and Consumption of Textiles, 8th-16th Centuries) woven with the weft. Weft thread would be wound around a shuttle for ease of passage in the shed and unrolled as needed. The weft thread would then be ‘beaten’ down towards the previous weft threads to tighten the weave, or upwards if using a warp-weighted loom. The heddle would be moved to the opposite position and the process repeated.


Pattern and Weave

 The pattern in the extant piece was created by warp thread groups of two separate colours. The pattern was: 22 threads of  light, 2 dark, 2 light, 2 dark, 22 light; followed by 12 threads of dark, 2 light, 2 dark, 2 light, 12 dark. This pattern was then repeated until the width was reached. As this piece is just fragments the full width is not known. Widths in period ranged from 27 inches approximately or 69 centimeters up to 108 inches or 274 cms. (http://www.damehelen.com/clothing/sewing/wool.shtml)

Extant piece thread count is 10 threads per centimeter on the warp, 11-13 per centimeter on the weft, with the interpretation of an addition of threads to ‘square’ up the weave. My thoughts on the ‘squaring’ up is it could also be from locking in the ends of one strand of thread similar to what I have done in my piece.

The thread count is consistent with ranges of fabric found in Icelandic digs dating to a similar time. Warp threads ranged from 7-13 threads per centimeter with “concentrations around 8, 10, and 12 warp threads per cm.”  Weft threads were in a range of 4-10 weft threads per cm. (p. 33 Textiles and the Medieval Economy: Production, Trade and Consumption of Textiles, 8th-16th Centuries)

Material

Extant wool was Z-spun which was common for the time for worsted wool used in warps (p.16 Textiles and Clothing). Spun on a distaff by women Z-spun wool would have been spun tighter than S-spun and thus stronger. S-spun would be a softer spun wool and utilized for weft. Worsted wool means it had been combed or carded prior to spinning. If it was shortwool (short fibres) being processed the wool would have been carded; up to 30% of the wool identified at BC72 from the late 14th century was shortwool. (page 15 Textiles and Clothing)


A slight napping was noticeable in the textiles found, however it was undetermined if it occurred prior to disposal or as a result of the deterioration. (April 10th, 1973 Medieval Textile fragments, Baynard’s Castle {addition and amendment}) Wool could be fulled which increased the interlocking of the fibres and created a water-resistant fabric, or smoothed using a stone. The fabric known as ‘scarlet’ was finished in this way, however neither process could be determined.


Colours

The extant piece is a 2 colour plaid. After unearthing the pieces EDTA was used to clean and stabilize the item. The colours that emerged were black and pink, pink supposedly from leaching of dye.

Other fabrics in a plaid design that were unearthed from the 14th century were 3 colours.

The Baynard’s Castle fabric was dyed with madder (specifically Rubia Tinctorum) predominately and a blue dye (possibly woad) to create the black.  On 140 textiles which gave positive results for dye material indigotin, kermes, lichen purple and possibly brazilwood were also detected. Some yellow/brown dye was also detected.  It was noted that had woad been used it may have been in such low concentration that it decomposed or leached out completely. (Ancient Monuments Laboratory Report 81/87, Dyes in Textiles from Baynard’s Castle: a Summary of Results from Tests Carried Out between 1978 and 1987 by Penelope Walton)

My piece

I decided to create this piece on my Rigid Heddle loom. It is a simple loom and sized well for my arms. The ridged aspect of the heddle replicates the simple heddle of a warp-weighted loom however it is horizontal as opposed to vertical. This also assists the physical issues I experience. Rigid Heddle loom is a comfortable loom for me to use; it is light and not fixed in place so I can use it on my couch.

Loom warped.

Once warped the heddle was placed in one position which opened one shed. The weft was then passed through and beaten. The heddle was then placed in the second position and the process repeated. As this loom has a small working space the beams were rotated to wind up the worked warp and enlarge the working space, then tension was adjusted accordingly.

Originally I had woven the pattern as double the width of each section due to a mental error. It was rewoven in a size that replicates the original extant piece closely, though still a little larger due to the slightly larger size of the thread and the limitations of the predetermined heddle. The smaller resulting plaid is a bit more pleasing to the eye.

Pattern was created from the extant piece pictured in the Textiles and Clothing book (page 20) as well as the  archaeological drawing (page 51). I translated those two connected pieces to the two colours I am using – Harrisville Shetland Wool Aster and Blackberry, simulating the two colours, light and dark, found on the extant piece. I counted out each thread in the picture both vertically for the warp and horizontally for the weft. The extant piece is not a very wide item, the maximum size of the pieces composing this piece is 10.0 cm by 5.0 cm. (Baynard’s Castle . 1499 Dock Deposit. Textiles. 1. Fragments dress details) Some repeating of pattern can be suggested in the surviving pieces.

Harrisville Shetland Wool. Aster on left and Blackberry on right.

I used S-spun wool machine made, which is readily available.  The wool is a blend of Australian fine wool and New Zealand wool which is spun tightly by Harrisville Mill.

My result pre-wash on the original piece I wove was 8/8 threads per cm. and remained unchanged upon first washing. The thread I am using is slightly larger than that used in period, which is probably a result of machine spinning. In the second piece I wove my result pre-wash is 7/7 threads per centimeter. No additional threads were used to ‘square’ up the piece as in the extant piece, however ends were woven back into the fabric.

Pre-wash final woven width was 38.6 cm at one end and 37.3 cm at other. This is just a bit over half of a typical warp-weighted loom length.

Pre-wash final woven length was 161.5 cm.

Washed final woven width was 37.0 cm and 35.7 cm. This is just a bit over half of a typical warp-weighted loom length.

Washed final woven length was 157.2 cm.

Percentage shrink was 4% width.

Percentage shrink was less than 3% length.


I used a pink based colour palette. The wool was dyed at the manufacturer. I wanted to have a different colour palette in my clothing repertoire and something I could have possibly dyed.

Tenderhooks were used in period for drying the cloth to a set size (p.18 Textiles and Clothing). After washing I hung the item to dry but did not use tenderhooks due to space limitations. The advantage of this is allowing me to see the full shrinkage in one wash.

A future long-term project is processing a fleece, then spinning, dyeing, and weaving the fibres. As well, I am experimenting with Warp-weighted loom weaving and possible finishing techniques.

Bibliography                      

Holmes Great Metropolis

https://books.google.ca/books?id=LHMOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA80-IA7&lpg=PA80-IA7&dq=Baynard%27s+castle+textile+finds&source=bl&ots=5uZk5tL9gP&sig=ACfU3U1nBzh70Xtc04beRqlEswjP4GaEuQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj9mMHVmevnAhWULH0KHQZUAuMQ6AEwEnoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Baynard’s%20castle%20textile%20finds&f=false

Royal Palace’s Baynard’s Castle

https://www.royalpalaces.com/palaces/baynards-castle/

A London Inheritance

A Private History of a Public City

https://alondoninheritance.com/tag/baynards-castle/

Historic England

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1001965

Baynard’s Castle, 78m south-west of St Benet Metropolitan Welsh Church

Archaeology Data Service

London Archaeologist

London Archaeologist Association, 2008 (updated 2019)

London Archaeologist – Volume 01:14 (1972) – Table of Contents

https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/london_arch/contents.cfm?vol=01:14

Queen Victoria Street, (No 135), EC4 {Medieval dock/river defences}

https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archsearch/record.xhtml

https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archsearch/record?titleId=2797514

Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince. Stella Mary Newton.c.1980. Boydell Press. Suffolk, UK

            ISBN 978085115762

Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450. Crowfoot, E; Pritchard, F; Staniland,K. c.2001 Museum of London. Boydell Press. Suffolk, UK

            ISBN 9781843832393

Collectanea Londiniensia, Studies Presented to Ralph Merrifield: Clothing and Textiles at the Court of Edward III, 1342 – 1352.Middlesex Archaelogical Society Special Paper 2. P223 – 234.

http://www.lamas.org.uk/images/documents/Special_Papers/SP2%201978%20Collectanea%20Londiniensia.pdf

The Wool Trade In English Medieval History Being The Ford Lectures By Eileen Power Professor of Economic History in the University of London

https://socialsciences.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/power/WoolTrade.pdf

Textiles and the Medieval Economy: Production, Trade and Consumption of Textiles, 8th-16th Centuries

Editied by Anjela Ling Huang and Carsten Jahnke. C.2015. Oxbow Books. Oxford UK

Digital ISBN 9781782976479

https://books.google.ca/books?id=RrRiBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA196&lpg=PA196&dq=14th+century+spinners&source=bl&ots=cG5e_WBCD6&sig=ACfU3U0ihYticCvKTUXSaez-3hmn6zcpog&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjTp560vJXoAhWbCTQIHRxxAsQ4ChDoATACegQIBxAB#v=onepage&q=14th%20century%20spinners&f=false

Medieval Clothing and Textiles:4

                Netherton, Robin and Owen-Crocker, Gail R.. copyright 2008. Boydell Press. Woodbridge.

                ISBN 9781843833666

https://books.google.ca/books?id=wSIToSOxR8MC&pg=PA21&lpg=PA21&dq=The+Medieval+Scarlet&source=bl&ots=t3eH1318q0&sig=ACfU3U3TFq9O5BcEbLxtkligCQwOmCxVbw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjbt5a96qHoAhXPFTQIHb7FDAgQ6AEwDHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=The%20Medieval%20Scarlet&f=false

Museum of London

https://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/online/object/455118.html

Plate 1 Loom weight

Museum of London

https://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/online/object/455112.html

Loom-Weights, Spindles and Textiles. Textile Production in Central Europe from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Belanová –Štolcová, T. & Grömer, K.

E. Andersson Strand, M. Gleba, U. Mannering, C. Munkholt and M. Ringgaard (Hrsg.), North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles X. Ancient Textiles series Vol. 5, Oxford, Oxbow Books, 9-20, 2010

https://www.academia.edu/12162914/Loom-Weights_Spindles_and_Textiles._Textile_Production_in_Central_Europe_from_the_Bronze_Age_to_the_Iron_Age._Belanov%C3%A1_%C5%A0tolcov%C3%A1_T._and_Gr%C3%B6mer_K


Addendum

Testing Effects on Dye Colour and Fibre Integrity upon Burying in Soil

Purpose

To see the effect on the dye colour and the fibre integrity when buried in soil for a length of time. To give some insight into conditions of extant find.

Process

Fibre was dyed with Madder and separated into Control and Sample. Additionally individual fibres of linen and wool, 2 weights, was attached to each piece.

The Sample (2) was then buried in a garden pot on my back deck and left undisturbed. The original plan was to leave for two (2) weeks and then unearth in time for an event, Canterbury Fayre. However, the pandemic arrived and the event was cancelled so the samples were left in the pot for six (6) weeks until the pot was needed for its original purpose.

Preparation

Four (4) pieces of linen were dyed with Madder, a dye tested for in the extant find and found.

Pieces total weight was 8 grams. Pieces were washed and grouped into Control and Sample with 2 pieces each. After dyeing, each group had one piece trimmed at one end for identification. As well the sample group had 25.5 cm each lengths of yellow silk thread, yellow thin wool thread, and purple wool (Aster) thread attached at one end.

Ph testing strips results during dyeing

PH results

Fresh Water             6

Scour                       9+

Mordant (Tannin)      6.5

Mordant (Alum)        9+

Dye in Madder          7.5

Soil                          6

Measurements

Control

                                Pointed end 8 cm for top edge by 14.7 cm

                                Squared end 7.2 cm by 14.3 cm

                Sample

                Pointed end 8.5 cm at pointed end by 15.2 cm

                Squared end 7.4 cm by 14.8 cm

Sample buried March 3, 2020 at 10:15 am in pot with used soil, plants had been grown in soil the previous year.

Pointed end sample buried ~ 12.7 cm deep, then soil placed over to cover. Square end sample was placed on top.

Sample was covered in soil which was compressed, then a carved stone placed in top. This was an attempt to replicate reduced oxygen levels that would have occurred over time at the extant site.

Temperatures ranged from 0 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius during the experiment. Precipation ranged from sleet to rain. Weather ranged from cloudy and wet to dry and sunny.

Control was placed by a well-lit room temperature area inside.

Results April 13, 2020

Measurements once unearthed and washed.

Control

                                Pointed end 8 cm for top edge by 14.7 cm

                                Squared end 7.2 cm by 14.3 cm

Sample

                                Pointed end 8.3 cm (originally 8.5 cm) at pointed end by 14.7 cm (originally 15.2 cm)

                                Squared end 7.4 cm (originally 7.4 cm)  by 14.4 cm (originally 14.8 cm)

Findings

Overall, slight shrinkage of the fabric occurred. A longer experiment would be required to determine if this would increase over time.

The wool threads had some degradation but less than the linen threads. The Aster wool sample thread lightened and became more pink. The linen sample thread showed a lot of degradation. The linen sample cloth held up quite well. The overlapping threads due to the weave provided additional resistance to degrading.

Overall fabric shifted in colour to more brown as some of the Madder pink leached out. This is consistent with the extant pieces and would increase over time.

Overall the stability of the fabric in the extant find is amazing. That fabric underwent much more time in the soil, with the addition of the effects of the Great Fire of London which I did not attempt to replicate.



Dragon and Phoenix Embroidery

Dragon and Phoenix Embroidery

Embroidery of a Dragon and a Phoenix confronting each other to form a roundel.  Done in silk on a silk ground, backed with linen and lined with cotton. Embellishes a man’s coat of the Song Dynasty era. Coat to be worn by a Scholar in the Emperor’s court.

In extant finds of this period the embroidery was done prior to the two back pieces being stitched together. This is evidenced by the inconsistencies in edges of design, although this changed in later period to the seam being completed first, then embroidery completed. For consistency in finished product I decided to sew as in the later period, completing the seam first, then embroider.

The image design is by Caitlin Wolfden, based upon a rough sketch and input of numerous extant and book sources under my direction, a dragon and a phoenix entwined.

Silk on silk, two strands of 72 strand continuous filament thread (finer than cotton embroidery thread), with a few areas in single strand. I considered going to one strand for the whole embroidery but the length of time it would take to embroider was too arduous. I started this prior to a concussion and had to stop embroidering for about a month. Upon resuming, embroidery limits were set by length of time I could focus per embroidery session. As such, embroidery took one and a half years.

Inspiration

Plate 51, page 176. When Silk was Gold.

This image inspired the design of the man’s coat. Done during the Liao dynasty (907 – 1125 AD) it was a style that was used in later time-periods and overlaps the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). (p.177. When Silk was Gold.)  Liao Dynasty covered areas of modern Mongolia, Far Eastern Russia, parts of northern China, and northeast Korea. Song Dynasty covered areas of modern China, eastern Tibet, northern Vietnam Zhao and bordered the southern Liao.

Conflict ensued between the Liao and Song governments and eventually the Chanyuan Treaty was signed in 1004-1005 AD.  This conflict and cross-culture influences permeated into textile design. (p.106 5000 Years of Chinese Costumes.) Influences from one time period can be seen in embroideries from later time periods showcasing a passing along of not only the traditional skills and stitches but aesthetic as well. The Song Dynasty was a cultural hub due to the development of the Silk Road trade route. It brought in various cultural influences over time from within and without the area.

Design elements

Embroidery Design elements during the Song Dynasty fall into a number of categories:

  • Designs incorporating moral message
    • Example – peony – wealth and honour
      • Chinese flowering crabapple message was wealth, honour, and immortality
    • Pine, bamboo, and prunus – three friends of winter
    • Prunus, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum – the four lords
  • Designs to denote social status
  • Designs derived from history and legend
  • Naturalistic designs – incorporating realistic style of plants, flowers, trees, fish, insects, bees, butterflies, landscapes, or figures
  • Designs incorporating auspicious characters

This design incorporates two elements, a dragon and a phoenix, and would fall under Designs incorporating auspicious characters.

Imperial court robes had dragons as a status symbol, with the number of toes determining how high a rank the official had (five being reserved for the Emperor).

The phoenix is a symbol of longevity and virtue and can be characterized with various bird body parts. This style is closer to a pheasant body shape.

The combination of the two images was used extensively through the Song Dynasty and often represents the yin and yang, the combination of male and female. As such it is linked to prosperity, harmony, and virtue.

Stitches in extant find

Couching stitch was used for the overall vine pattern on the robe. The Phoenixes are done in satin stitch, there is some couching, and the eyes are encircled with split stitch. (Page 178 When Silk was Gold)

In period finds chain stitch, also known as ‘pigtail stitch’ was found in the tomb of Fuhao at Anyang. The Huang Shen tomb at Fuzhou, Fujian Province (dating from AD 1247) contains finds of split-stitch, satin, shaded satin, couched, oblique ‘chan’-stitch, ‘qiang’ stitches.

Qiang-stitch are short vertical stitches which follow shape of design allowing movement to be incorporated into the design. Shading is a feature of this stitch profile. How the edges are stitched further define this stitch. Outer edge in – inward Qiang; inner edge out – outward Qiang.

Souhe-stitch is an irregular use of long and short stitches which was often used in large flower petals and very large wings. The stitch profile allows for subtle shading of colour and a realistic effect.

Embroiders during this time were able to showcase varied techniques:

            “for example, the four butterflies on the edge of an embroidery depicting butterflies and peonies are all different, each having been worked in a different way” (p32 Chinese Textile Design)

Part of the motivation for creating this embroidery was to challenge my skillset.

Realism

Plate 56 Chinese Textile Design. Done predominantly in satin stitch. Qiang stitch done on the neck, back, and stomach evokes feathers. Knot stitch details eyes and the flower stamens. Dimensionality and movement of the natural world is very evident in this embroidery.


Silk shading is the practise of using degrees of colour and long and short stitches to allow gradual changes of colour, or to emulate the effect of light and consequently dark on an object. This is the technique I have used a fair bit and I find it fascinating. I think the mindset is similar to a painter’s and I find it especially effective when showcasing the natural world. It is used in a somewhat subdued manner in this 11th – 13th century embroidery piece, which has elements of previous dynasties and Sogdian and Central Asian origin. The lotus flower is of a time period contemporary to the Song.

Plate 173. When Silk was gold

My design was drawn then multiple copies were made. One copy was for planning colour, one for stitch planning, and one for transferring the design. I transferred the design via loose straight stitch, which was removed or stitched over, depending on the area, as I embroidered.

Material in extant find

Most families were involved in the production of silk. Bolts of silk were used as taxes and each family house would have the necessary elements to successfully raise the silk worms and produce the silk threads.

As early as the fourth and fifth century silks from this area were traded across Asia, into Africa and Europe.

Various areas throughout the Song were known for production of various types of silk.

Regions producing gauze and crepe in Song Dynasty (Page 12 Chinese Textile Designs):

  • Gauze: Wenzhou in Jiangining, Bureaux
  • Crepe: Yi and Haozhu, Daming

In the extant find there were multiple layers of silk:

  • Silk Gauze in a lozenge pattern for outer layer
  • Silk Tabby with silk batting
  • Silk Tabby lining

For the embroidery Silk polychrome thread was worked through two layers, the silk gauze and silk tabby.

Materials I used

Silk, purchased locally.

Linen was used to back the silk.

Cotton was substituted for the silk tabby for the lining. Withstands wear and tear and was a period fabric. It did make the overall coat heavier.

For the embroidery I used silk floss and stitched through two layers, silk and linen.

Stitches Technique I used

Long and short stitch for body of Dragon and Phoenix. This is a form of split stitch. The edges of the different colours on the Dragon intersperse to ease the colour transition.

Dragon foot. Long and short stitch is used and shading.

Satin stitch for Phoenix tail.

Stem stitch for edges of design that are higher than are higher than the area next to it. For example, on the Dragon body the edge of outer legs (above picture) against the body have the long and short stitches going over the stem stitch. The foot along the outer edge is done this way, as well as the edges of the toes emanating from the foot, easier to see in person.

Chain stitch for the dragon spikes and tail.

Dragon tail with spikes done in chain stitch.

Progress Photos

Once the embroidery was complete the coat was sewn by hand.

Bibliography

Chinese Textile Design

Gao Hanyu    translated by Rosemary Scott and Susan Whitfield

Copywrite: 1986 The Commercial Press Ltd., Hong Kong Branch

Copywrite: 1992 English version Penguin Books Ltd.

Printed Hong Kong by C&C Joint Printing Co. (HK) Ltd.

31383034249816 Vancouver Public Library Call Number: 746.0951 G21c

5000 Years of Chinese Costumes

Text: Zhou Xun, Gao Chunming

Editing: The Chinese Costumes Research Group of the Shanghai School of Traditional Operas

Copyright: 1984 The Commercial Press, Ltd., Hong Kong Branch

            1987 English version China Books and Periodicals, Inc.

                        San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

31383064452587 Vancouver Public Library Call Number: 391.0951 F56c

When Silk Was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese Textiles

Watt, James C.Y.. New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art in cooperation with the Cleveland Museum of Art : Distributed by H.N. Abrams, c1997  ISBN: 9780870998256 

Copy from Vancouver Public Library Call number : 746.0951 W34w

Chinese Textiles: An Introduction to the Study of their History, Sources, Technique, Symbolism, and Use http://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Chinese_Textiles_An_Introduction#sthash.ozYwtXbM.dpuf

Priest, Alan and Pauline Simmons

Copywrite: 1934

This title is out of print.

Arts and Culture Google website

Chinese Textiles: Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art) http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/objects?exhibitionId=d73fdfeb-aaae-48d0-9889-ee70ddf275d4

The Silk Road Foundation Newsletter http://www.silkroadfoundation.org/newsletter/december/archaeology.htm



Other embroidery projects

Alms Purse

Embroidered on linen using silk thread worked in stem stitch, split stitch, chain stitch, knots and the background is couched. Circa 2008.

Multiple information sources including:

Medieval Craftsmen: Embroiderers, Kay Staniland, c. 1991 Trustees of the British

Museum, University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-6915-0

Bayeaux Tapestry Inspired Bow Bag

Embroidered Glove

Fourth panel of embroidered cuff of archery glove.

Glove with embroidered cuff. Structure and elements of the embroidery design are based on Bayeaux Tapestry and ecclesiastical symbolism. Eg. tree of life as panel divider, tree of knowledge, trinity. Heraldic wolf and dog are represented alongside the populace badge of Lions Gate. Approximately 2009.

Sources:

The Bayeux Tapestry, David M. Wilson. 1985. Thames and Hudson Ltd. New York, New York. ISBN 0-500-25122-3

Ecclesiastical Embroidery, Beryl Dean. 1958. B.T.Batsford Ltd. London England

Quiver embellishment Gold work

Couched faux gold with padding on silk. Approximately 2005.

Baroness’ Inspirations Favours

Embroidered in gold and silk on silk/cotton ground. Representing my heraldic device these were handed out to Baroness’ Inspirations during my time as Baroness of Lions Gate. circa 2011.

First pouch

First pouch. Done in cotton on cotton/linen ground. This blends elements of Celtic knotwork, Heraldry, and the natural world. I have repurposed this to the inside flap of my current haversack. Circa 2001.

Current pouch

Wool embroidery on wool ground. Couched and stem stitched. Based on images in Bayeau Tapestry. Circa 2017.

10. How well does the artist demonstrate understanding of the appropriate period aesthetic?

11. How well does the artist demonstrate competency of period appropriate tools?

12. How well does the artist demonstrate competency of period appropriate materials?

13. How well does the artist demonstrate competency  of period appropriate ​techniques and ​processes​?

16. ​Difficulty: 

 How challenging are the techniques, processes, and or the materials used to produce the object? 

17. What level of preparation, skills, and knowledge were required to produce this object?

 4. How well does the artist achieve the vision of their project and period aesthetic?

15. What level of complexity​ does the entered object represent within its genre/time/place?


Explanation of process:  To what degree does the documentation describe the process used to create the entry? Can the reader clearly interpret how this object/process was made? Could another person recreate this object/process based on reading this documentation? Are choices explained clearly and justified thoroughly?

​Connection between documentation and entry: 

How well does this documentation support the entry? 

That is, is the entry itself clearly supported by the documentation given? 

Is the link between the research and the final entry clear

16 Replies to “Margaret Hamilton of Stirlingshire”

  1. I am super proud of you Margaret 🙂
    Your choice of projects was wide and varied. Your processes were well thought out and clear. I hope this was a fun experience for you!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed reading this – and your experiments with dyeing the fabric and then burying them were fascinating. Also your work, as always, is gorgeous. Well done!

    1. Thank you.
      I will say getting concussed a few weeks after starting on the embroidery made for some challenging stitching sessions. However that was when all the prep work really paid off. I could refer to the colour guide or stitching pattern I created and see how and where the Phoenix tail intermingled with the Dragon, even though I was only working in very short periods at first.
      Each part has some favourite aspect, figuring out the Dragon scales when the first stitch didn’t really work, the subtle definition in the feet, the comb. But I think the fluidity of the Phoenix tail really appeals, I feel the movement comes across fairly well.

  3. Hi Margaret!
    Always a pleasure to see your work. Your embroideries are so gorgeous.
    I am intrigued by your soil burying experiment. Are you planning to do this again and if so what would you do differently? I am not sure if you want to pursue this further or not, but if so maybe we should chat further. I have done testing on dyed samples for washfastness and lightfastness but not this!

    1. Hello! Thank you. The soil burying experiment was interesting and definitely has peaked my interest. If I do it again I would lengthen the time buried – 1 to 2 years. I think I have a spot for it. As well I would try a variety of dyes on each of wool and linen so as to compare the effects on the different dyes as well as the fabrics. I suspect it would be adviseable to learn how to test for the dyes themselves as an added element and be able to grade the colour. I would be delighted to chat, perhaps fb messenger would be useful for that?

  4. I have enjoyed watching the progression of your dragon and phoenix, and am thrilled to see it here. I really love your embroidery, and especially the bayeux pieces. I have experimented with some embroidery in that style myself, so I find yours impressive 😉
    Tanikh

  5. I just wanted to thank you for the information on your Song dynasty embroidery. Not only is the embroidery gorgeous, but you included a resource that I will be able to use in my own research on embroidery stitches. I had not found the names of the stitches used outside of their English-language equivalents, and I’m so excited that you included those in your documentation! Thank you!!

  6. Every bit of this is awesome, but that embroidery is just jaw-dropping! I love embroidery, I really should do more of it, but this is just next level! I adore that goldwork dog, the glove cuff, and especially the dragon and phoenix. The closest I’ve come is doing some Bayeux tapestry stitched figures. Thank you so much for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

11 + 19 =

// //