sbuchler (sbuchler) wrote,
sbuchler
sbuchler

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Embroidering a 12th Century Bliaut

I need new SCA garb. I'm tired of wearing the same stuff. I have spiffy-bright red wool gauze to make an over-gown à la the Chartes Cathedral statues, and I have golden light silk twill to make the under-gown. Now I need to figure out how to trim them.

The trim on the statues could be woven trim, but I think it’s more likely to be embroidery. I’m not actually sure why I think that; possibly it’s just that I’m more interested in doing embroidery then I am in doing weaving. Also, I think embroidery is an incredibly impressive trim, yet in the SCA I almost never see the really densely embroidered designs, that seem to be common in medieval and renaissance extant embroideries. I want the result to look right

So, if I’m to do embroidery, the question comes up, what style of embroidery? I haven’t found much info that would be applicable… I’m looking for a style that can do bright solid blocks of embroidery:

  • Pearl beading & couching à la coronation robe and mantel of Roger II of Sicily between 1133-1134 and William II of Sicily’s Alb from 1181. These are the right period, but the wrong place and the embroidery isn’t very reminiscent of the statues….
  • Beading à la the hat and belt of Fernando de la Cerda (Spanish, c.1225-1275). This is just after the bliaut period, and is in Spain which is always weird, however it’s a really easy (I’m told) and effective way to get bold blocks of color. There’s a 1250-1300 alter hanging from Halberstaadt, Lower Saxony that also sports this style using tiny colored glass beads (scroll down – the picture’s in the middle of the article)
  • Solid chain stitch (this has the benefit of having extant examples that might have been garment trimming… but not from the mid-late 1100s. I think this is a good example, showing how it can do the bold blocks of color. It also has the benefit of being used on a antependium (church hanging) created in Huysbourg monastery in France ca. 1150-60 (scroll down, this picture is near the end) – which is about as perfect a time-match as I can hope for.
  • Klosterstitch which is German, and mostly 14-16th centuries, but there is one piece tentatively dated to the bliaut period… however, from the description it can stand up to being on clothing, and it gives the bright solid blocks of color I’m looking for.

What are my criteria (in order of importance):
  1. I’d like the embroidery to be period appropriate for France (Paris especially) in the 1180s. Unfortunately, I haven’t found much that’s that specific. Does the collected knowledge of the interwebz know more?
  2. I want the result to give a similar impression as the trim on the statues. So, it needs to be bold, solid, and geometric (circles count!). No naturalistic lions. Or heraldic lions.
  3. I want the finished outfit to look like it could live comfortably in the kind of bright environs that the reconstruction of Dover Castle suggests for this period (take the virtual tour – it’s worth it if you haven’t seen the pictures already! Non-video pictures can be found here). It’s just sooo not what people think of when they think medieval or bliaut. *evil grin*
  4. There’s a pattern in some stain-glass windows that is similar to the “feel” of the sculpture trim. I’m very tempted to use that as my design starting point. (see pictures below)
  5. Not boring to stitch. Possibly this criterion should have a greater importance… (I do enjoy how soutach braid makes you feel like you’re quickly making progress.)

These were once found in the 12th Century Garb yahoo group pictures section; but I can’t find them there anymore (possibly the lists' photo section is just too cluttered for me to find 'em...) My notes say they are Enamel Plaques from Rheno-Mosan, circa 1180-1200 in the Cluny Musum, Paris
Tags: bliaut, costume, embroidery, medieval
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