Friday, May 23, 2014

Altar Frontal by Jenny Adin-Christie

You're in for a real treat today! I've been corresponding with Jenny Adin-Christie about a project she did for Inspirations magazine some time ago. In our correspondence, Jenny mentioned that she had just completed a church commission and she has since very kindly given me permission to share her photos and details of the work with you. You may recognize Jenny, a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework, as being one of the embroiderers who worked on the beautiful lace wedding dress worn by Catherine on her marriage to Prince William.

I have put together extracts from Jenny's email, together with a summary of some of the key elements taken into consideration in the development of the design for the embroidered altar frontal. Knowing a little more about an embroidery, and how it came to be, adds another layer of enjoyment for me and I hope you will enjoy this behind the scenes look too.

Jenny says, "[The commission] was for St Lawrence’s Church, Weston Patrick, Hampshire..."
You can see the church here on Flickr.
"It has a fabulous Victorian interior (although the origins of the church are much earlier), and was designed by Thomas Henry Wyatt." 

The altar before with Rubelli cloth draped over it

"Much of the hand painted wall decoration was covered under white paint until a recent discovery led to a full restoration program. The PCC commissioned me to create an All Seasons frontal for the altar to replace exiting frontals which were rapidly degrading, and to compliment the restored interior."

Later you will see these two restored design details picked up in the embroidered frontal.

Painted foliate border surrounding stained glass windows 

Starred ceiling

You can see another photo of the interior of St Lawrence's Church which shows the painted walls and the ceiling here and here on Flickr.

Just a few words about the design before we see the finished piece. The design of the embroidery was largely inspired by the bold metal work cross on the lid of the octagonal font in the church. 

Cross on metal work font lid

The cross has been combined together with a quatrefoil motif and an outer circle, signifying the circle of life. The quatrefoil was inspired by forms within the wooden arches of the church roof, and also by the tile-like pattern in the stained glass behind the altar.

Now to see how it all comes together in this stunning embroidery...

Altar frontal by Jenny Adin-Christie 

I have to say that when I saw this photo I found it difficult to believe it was actually stitched and not painted. Its an effect that Jenny says she deliberately sets out to achieve with her embroidery.

The colours for the embroidery were chosen to pick up the neutral tones of the floor and walls, the blue of the painted ceiling and the jewel-like reds, purples and jade greens of the stained glass windows. The strong jewel colours were however kept to a minimum, to ensure that the appearance of the frontal did not compete with the stained glass behind it. The golden yellows used in the quatrefoil link seamlessly with those in the stained glass above and serve to draw the eye up towards their central focus of the crucifixion.
And here is the completed embroidery in place on the altar.

All Seasons altar frontal by Jenny Adin-Christie 

Being embroiderers, we always want to know a little about the actual stitching, at least I always do, and Jenny has shared some of her techniques with us:

"I use a lot of machine embroidery over laminated layers of fabric to build a decorative and durable base for the piece. Machining adds texture and interest but with greater speed and also makes the fabrics more durable for use in a public space. This is then worked into with lots of hand stitching and use of traditional metal threads to define and highlight the key areas of the design. The stars and mini roundels are formed from pleasted plate."

Edging stained glass sections with metal threads 

Applying tile motif to the cross 

Completed gold star

One final little detail that I found fascinating is that the embroidery remains separate from the altar cloth. Jenny explains, "Once complete, the design is mounted onto board which is then attached via a special mechanism to the front of the altar, with the draped altar cloth behind. The embroidery can therefore be removed to allow cleaning of the cloth, and the church will eventually have other coloured cloths to use behind the embroidery. This solves a great many issues experienced with frontals where the embroidery is worked directly onto the cloth."

There is not much to add after seeing this wonderful embroidery except to admire the fabric of the altar cloth itself which forms a rich backdrop to the embroidery and to marvel at the expertise with which the embroidery has been mounted in front of it so that one doesn't suspect the two are quite separate. 

Thank you for sharing your beautiful work with us Jenny!

Please leave your comments below. Jenny would love to hear from you.

 To see more of Jenny Adin-Christie's work you can visit her website by clicking here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Drawn Thread Bag

This is the little drawn thread bag I was busy finishing off a few weeks ago and mentioned here. It was started in a class by Moyra McNeill.

Finding the matching thread to complete the woven bars at the top turned out to be quite straight forward and they stitched up really quickly. Next was trimming all those little satin ribbons down the front and gently melting the edges with a flame so they won't unravel over time.

The one job I did not want to tackle was trying get a lining to fit neatly inside the bag. A little careful measuring and stitching and that went ahead smoothly too. Why ever did I leave it aside for so long?

When Moyra gave us the kit with the hessian fabric and I went off to look for threads, ballet pink jumped out  at me. It seemed to soften the hessian and liven it up. Thinking of my daughters' ballet days I am always reminded of lots of pink satin ribbon and the long ribbons spilling off of ballet shoes. The ribbons may not be too practical here but they are nice to run your fingers up and down and to play with.
The threads used for the stitching are a soft hessian colour and the ribbons threaded through the holes at the top are both ballet pink and hessian brown. I rather liked the trailing threads at the bottom so trimmed them just enough to straighten them up, but not shorten them. I wonder if my granddaughter will ever do ballet?
Since my last post I have been working away on my book charting stitches. Its a slow process but oh so challenging and I am enjoying it immensely. I am trying to get all the stitches charted while they are still fresh in my mind. Later comes the stitching up of samples.