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Primroses in the 16th and 17th Centuries and in my Historical Sampler

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20 February 2009

Primroses in the 16th and 17th Centuries and in my Historical Sampler

I have 3 primroses to embroider.
What primroses are relevant to the 16th/17th C?
Turning to my trusty Elizabethan Flowers site
I get :
Primula auricula
Auricula brown; pink; white; yellow; red; purple
Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

Primula elatior
Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

Primula farinosa
Bird's-eye Primrose
Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

Primula polyantha
yellow, double form
Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

Primula species?
Rariorum plantarum historia (illus. with woodcuts)/1601
Carolus Clusius/Netherlands

Primula veris
Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

Primula veris
Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

Primula vulgaris
English Primrose
Unicorn Tapestries/ca1500, Unknown/Brussels?

Primula vulgaris
Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

What do these primroses look like in real life?
Here is a picture from the back flap “The Medieval Flower Book” by Celia Fisher, of an Oxslip Primrose (beloved for it’s narcotic properties).
It has red freckles on it’s petals, unlike other primroses, but the basic structure is the same.
The Elizabethans seemed to always show the pod or calyx just below the flower rather than just the frontal view of the flower.
Uncut “slip” of a primrose, silk embroidered in tent stitch on a fine linen ground, c. 1590
This is a picture of a primrose from “Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery” by Dorothy Clarke (the cover)
All the primroses I’ve seen in Elizabethan embroidery seem to be Primrose Vulgaris (the English Primrose) with bright yellow petals.
Primrose I :
I found some thin yellow perle in my embroidery box – I don’t know where it came from.
I used this with some Jap Thread No. 1 threaded into the same needle to do double detached buttonhole petals. I used the Jap to give some sparkle, since it’s next to the Burden Stitch leaf, which is very sparkly indeed.
This is the first time I’ve used perle for Detached Buttonhole. It certainly gives a different texture to DMC/YLI! Much thicker and woolier.
I padded the pod with two layers of green felt and outlined it in chain stitch in a light leaf green, as shown in the Exploring Elizabethan picture.
I am currently chain stitched the pod itself in dark green Gilt Sylke Twist. With the very small stitches I’m using, the Sylke Twist is building into a solid mass of green glitter – rather like a beetle’s wing.
I then need to put a light leaf green chain stitch down the middle (this is one of the veins on the pod, of which there are several in the real flower, but only one of which ever seems to be shown).
I plan to put in an orange spiderweb for the centre. The real flower has um, little ‘feelers’ which I could do in wire. I haven’t seen this done – the centre is done flat.

In other news, some more Lurex arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and I’ve used nearly another yard to complete the braid as far as I can do it without impinging into ‘unexplored territory’.

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