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Tapestries of the Known World

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Tapestries of the Known World


Hmmmmmm. A medieval embroidery that tells a story … whose drawing style is easy to copy … worked in a fairly easy stitch … in inexpensive materials?

A number of thoughtful needleworkers have gazed at the Bayeux Tapestry over the years and uttered those fateful words that begin great adventures and large needlework projects: “Hey — I think I could do that!”

Hangings after the model of the Bayeux Tapestry remain a popular way for a group of interested historical needleworkers to commemorate their own or their group’s history. People of a wide variety of skill levels can participate — all that’s needed is organizers, materials and an artist sufficiently skillful to draw the panels. Two groups in the West Kingdom are currently working on such projects.

The Darkwood Tapestry

(reported by Isela di Bari)

In October 2004 Eric Bjornsson and I discussed the idea of creating a gift to the Barony in celebration of Darkwood’s upcoming 20th birthday in 2007. We decided on an embroidered wallhanging in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry, and within a week, Eric enlisted the services of artisan Raymond von dem Lowengrab and needlework master Catherine Lorraine of Stonegate Manor. Within two months, 20 panels were claimed by embroiderers.

Although the original tapestry measures 230 feet long, we decided the Darkwood Tapestry would be a more manageable 29 feet. By March 2005, Raymond had drafted the first four panels. Using David Wilson’s book on the Bayeux Tapestry, Catherine and I decided to limit the color palette to 7 colors to enhance uniformity. We are using Italian twill fabric, #22 chenille needles, stretcher bars and Appleton Crewel wool thread. Several workshops have been held to familiarize embroiderers with the stitches and materials.
portion of map panel of the Darkwook Tapestry

A portion of the map panel of the Darkwood Tapestry, showing the border, part of the main panel, and the beginnings of the embroidery

Baron Wilhelm and the castle (sketch)Each panel depicts an important event in Darkwood’s 20-year history. For example, one panel features Baron Sebastian petitioning Their Majesties to make Darkwood a barony; another features Baron Wilhelm commanding the construction of the Darkwood Castle. A third will feature our current Baron Erich & Baroness Liesel presiding over court. The Latin text has been composed by Lord Raymond and translated by Lady Adriana Tacita.

The Darkwood Tapestry will be presented to the Baron and Baroness at the White Shield feast in 2007. When completed, it is our dream that this embroidery will live on to remind future generations of their Barony’s illustrious history.

The Oertha Tapestry

(reported by Morgana yr Oerfa)

A handful of years ago, Varakreivitär Kareina Talventytär thought it would be nice to have an Oerthan tapestry based upon the Bayeaux Tapestry. Before too long there was a tapestry with edgings drawn on. The borders, similar to those on the Bayeaux, are comprised of a series of slanted bars in various colors. Between them are motifs from the devices of the Princes and Princesses of Oertha. In the center panels it is planned to have drawings of the first tourney: a fight, a court scene, etc.

Kareina took it everywhere she went in Oertha. She researched the stitches, pre- pared a handout, and taught several classes so people could work on the tapestry as they had time at events and activities. When she left for parts south, including An Tir, West, and now Lochac, the tapestry found a new home in the Barony of Winter’s Gate. Now Magdalena Ochastka has physical custody of the tapestry, and like Kareina, Magda carries it to all events and activities, armed with handouts and threads and books, for people to stitch.
detail of a fox from the Oertha Tapestry

Detail of a fox, from the Oertha Tapestry

Kareina started the stitching in cotton embroidery thread, because that is what she had. However, Magda studied the original further, and discovered it was executed in wool. So it has been decided that we will continue the Oertha Tapestry in Medici tapestry wool. It was also decided to leave in the original work in cotton floss, as it forms part of the learning history of the project.

When finished it is hoped it will become a part of the principality regalia, displayed at Coronet Tournaments.

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