The very first illuminated embroidery design I did was based on several mediaeval English manuscripts - I didn’t know then that I would be creating many more alphabets!
Within these pages, I looked for repeating themes, colours, and styles. I wanted to create a design that brought together the best of several sources.
|Hastings Hours c. 1480|
I've always loved these manuscripts, and learned calligraphy when I was in my teens - the amazing detail and richness of colour always takes my breath away!
|Hours of Catherine of Cleves, c. 1440|
I also like the idea that the original illustrators often used the margins of the pages to make jokes and tell rude tales, hiding their fun and games in plain sight!
I love matching colours with threads, and my DMC swatch book really gets a hammering when I'm working out which shades are closest to the source image.
Just as I was looking for recurring themes and subjects in the manuscripts, I was also trying to build a 'universal' colour palette. I narrowed down the vast amounts of possibilities later, but in the early stages I found the colours as inspiring as the manuscripts.
|Belluno Herbal, early 15th century|
Many of the illustrations were highly stylised...
|Culpepper Herbal, c. 1553|
...while others were specific and precise.
Huth Hours, c. 1485
Some images were even '3D' in effect - the dragonflies above are almost flying out of their own picture space.
|the first full letter, nearly ready|
Most people don't realise that I design all 26 letters for each illuminated alphabet I create - I may only work one as a prototype, but the other 25 are available too! I work out the details on one letter, and then determine which bits are important enough to repeat across all the letters, and which bits are more flexible, depending on the shape of the letter. Then the letters themselves are designed, and the 'illumination' added to each individual letter as best suits the overall shape. Hard graft, basically! :)
|Hours of Anne of Brittany, early 16th century|
The Hours of Anne of Brittany gave me the idea for a snail...
...as well as the strawberry plant!
I shall enjoy re-stitching this lovely design, and will be taking LOTS of work-in-progress shots along the way - the instruction booklet for the kit will be a photographic guide, of course!
Here's to a 2016 full of stitches!
Love 'n Stitches,
p.s. if you liked this, then read this!