STUMPWORK/RAISED EMBROIDERY & 3-DIMENSIONAL WORKS
Embroidery was an essential part of a young girl's education during the middle to late 1600's and many examples of Raised Embroidery or 'Stumpwork' have survived this period. We are given to understand that the majority of the works were carried out by young girls, who naturally enough would have had excellent eyesight and very nimble fingers, enabling them to stitch the minute raised areas on caskets, mirror frames etc. and there is evidence to substantiate that Hannah Smith completed a casket at the tender age of 14 and even a Martha Edlin who was a mere ll years of age!
It is believed that these young girls probably worked from kits which contained all they would need to stitch their panels, which would be sent to a cabinet maker on completion, to be mounted onto perhaps a mirror frame or casket.
Stumpwork/Raised Embroidery does not really come under the category of 'Lace' but the two mediums certainly become united with the use of Needlelace 'slips' incorporated into these embroideries in the form of clothing, extra petals on flowers and the tiny pre-formed pieces of wood in the shape of fruits etc, which were subsequently covered with detached buttonhole stitiches.
I had the good fortune to live close to Barbara & Roy Hirst who have been largely responsible for the revival of this fascinating form of embroidery, and have enjoyed workshops at their home here in the UK where we have learned from each other, exchanging information on our respective forms of expertise. The sepia picture of a young boy and girl sitting in front of a thatched cottage, was my first piece of stumpwork and of course created under the tutelage of Babara Hirst. As one might have guessed, I was eager to progress the work and couldn't wait until the next lesson to ask Barbara for guidance, and made the mistake of not allowing sufficient space between their head and shoulders, resulting in neither of these two little characters having a neck!
I am extremely fortunate that my husband Roy is a fine artist who creates vey detailed still life paintings and has painted some of the background scenes for several of my works. I don't claim to be an embroiderer and don't have the skill, time or knowledge to embroider these large areas myself, but Roy has been happy to do this for me using his painting skills.
I have always greatly admired the wood carvings of Grinling Gibbons and whilst on a visit to an Arboretum with my City & Guild students in the 1980's, I saw a wonderful mirror surround depicting an arrow, quiver, sheet music, fruit, peas in a pod etc. I thought that if someone could carve such realistic creations from a solid piece of wood, I surely could create something in needlelace - hence my peapods with butterfly worked in Gutermann 100/3 silks, which in turn led onto the strawberries!
I hope you will enjoy seeing some of these works.