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Silver Background?

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30 April 2010

Silver Background?

I mentioned in my last post about the possibility of doing the background in silver in Gobelin or Tent stitch.
After all, it’s goldwork, raised work, stumpwork (from the next century), and Elizabethan stitches and motifs, all on an Elizabethan vine. Why not throw in some extra glamour, in the form of a silvery background (which more normally appeared on bags and purses) and make it all the more sumptuous? It is a sampler. and I’m not conforming to any rules here, except those of taste (I hope!)
I do actually have an ulterior motive for doing this, as I explained before. Once I’ve finished the black dress (I managed to sew on a button last night!) I’ll go back to the sampler – but I might not be up to doing the embroidery involved. Or some days I will, and other days I won’t.
But some simple background stitching could be feasible on my less good days.
It will give me the feeling that I’m progressing the sampler, rather than leaving it aside for so very long. I really want to get back into embroidering.
The piece will be a wall hanging in the end, with a heavy metallic margin (couching multiple threads?), then a fringe, (ecclesiastical trim from E-bay?) and possibly some tassels – so there’s a lot of richness on the surround.
Will it be too much bling to have the silver as well, or will the plain linen background look too plain against all this sumptuary of the embroidery and the surrround?
Here’s a historical example of a drawstring bag with a silver background :-
Drawstring bag
English, late 16th–early 17th century
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, 1943
Accession number: 43.1075
Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake created a swetebag with a silver background, which can be seen enlarged at
(Any problems with the link, go to and click on the Swetebag – the first picture - to enlarge it).
It shows the stitching and the effect of the silver background rather more clearly.
Should I add a silver background as well?
After some discussion with Eowyn, she recommends the historical form of Encroaching Gobelin Stitch in Jap Thread.
I’ve ordered a yard each of the 4 sizes of Imitation Jap Thread from the Sampler section of Tanya Berlin’s site so I can see which provides the best ground coverage (before buying entire reels). This thread is “burnished so have an antique look with a mat surface”
I prefer a mat finish to the thread, rather than a shiny appearance of using real Jap thread. And if imitation Jap thread tarnishes, that’s fine by me. I think it adds character to the piece.
I’ve put a little poll up at the top left of my blog. Please feel free to indicate your opinion. I’m leaning towards adding the
background, and I’m not worried about the amount of work. But I don’ t want it to seem ‘overdone’.
Any votes/opinions (you can also comment) would be greatly appreciated. :-)

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Blogger Margaret said...

There are two reasons for not using the silver to my way of thinking. One, you have done such amazing work with all the motifs that you want that to stand out and be the part people notice. And two, that much silver background will look very different than a small square purse, so I think it would be overwhelming with a silver background.
On the other hand, so much of the embroidery from the time is over the top with bling - just look at the Plimoth jacket - that it might be more accurate.
But I think I'm still voting for the plain linen.

Friday, April 30, 2010  
Anonymous Kris said...

I vote for the silver. The rest of what you have done is already so over the top, why not. I have done a purse foundation of encroaching gobelin in a thin metal and found it not very taxing. It would be just the right speed for those days you do not feel like complex stuff, and we all have those.

Friday, April 30, 2010  
Blogger Machteld said...

oh, I vote for the silver too, because I love bling :-) But then again, I understand Margaret's idea about the plain linen too...

Friday, April 30, 2010  
Anonymous Yvette Stanton said...

I vote for plain linen. I personally wouldn't want to overdo it in terms of the bling. But then I'm not a blingish person at all...

Friday, April 30, 2010  
Blogger MargB said...

the sampler is so beautiful as it is - I agree with Yvette - you can gild a lily! I am not into bling either.

However I do understand your need to have some quiet stitching to soothe you at times. Perhaps there is somewhere else where you can do some restfful stiches.

Friday, April 30, 2010  
Blogger Plays with Needles said...

First of all, the latest pic is just wonderful!! And I have to agree with the others...I vote for white linen too...the purse that you are showing as an example doesn't have the raised stumpwork that your piece does. That said, You could always try a small sample on a doodle cloth and see what you may persuade us yet!

Friday, April 30, 2010  
Blogger SilkLover said...

I agree that much silver might take away from the rest of the piece. However, it is your piece, and you can tell the best what you want from it. Try a little silver for the background and see what you think. Could try using it around some motifs. Or you could do a smaller piece with the silver for those times when that is all you are able to do.

Saturday, May 01, 2010  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Another vote for plain linen! My reason is that in heraldry, they never put the two metals - gold and silver - beside one another, because it was felt that they detracted from each other rather than enhancing each other.

Saturday, May 01, 2010  
Blogger Jeanine in Canada said...

I'm with Rachel (above) for the same reasons. This piece is amazing!

Sunday, May 02, 2010  

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