Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Embroidered Illumination from 12th century

I have embroidered this sad Gardener a few years ago. I still consider it the best piece I have ever done.

The inspiration for the embroidery was an illuminated French miniature from a medieval manuscript: Fécamp Psalter, dating back to c.1180. The manuscript is currently stored in Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague.

It is one of those strange illuminations I love: looks like the poor man is working in the middle of the night, pulling out huge weeds to save his wee crop. And what a strange hat he is wearing!

Pic.1, from:

I chose a dark blue dupion silk to work on. The embroidery is done in cotton, silk, silver thread and incorporated silver and red coral beads.
I applied stitches: couching, satin, split and chain.

Pic.2: My interpretation of the illumination, photo by Bartosz Kolata
I started the embroidery process with working on Gardeners face: it is always the trickiest bit, as you want to keep the expression from the original illumination. It is a bit like painting with extremely fine pain brush,
But when I had the face done the way I wanted, I found it very rewarding and motivating! There is this strange feeling of presence, like you embroidered a company of somebody to be with you for the rest of your work on the piece!

Pic.3: Sad face and funny hat! Photo by Bartosz Kolata
Then I embroider hands and legs. You have to be still careful, where you put your needle into the fabric, but after embroidering the face everything is so much easier!

The next step was embroidering the Gardener's tools and his tunic. Very time consuming process, as I used split stitch for it (splitting a single thread from the skein of cotton floss). What is great about this technique: if you consequently lay down the split stitch in the same direction in part of the tunic, it plays nicely with light, giving your work a subtle 3D effect)

Pic.3: Combining different directions of split stitch in parts of the tunic, photo by Bartosz Kolata
When I had the whole Gardener embroidered, it was time to work on the frame. In the original illumination there is two frames: inner, painted in gold, and outer in two colours: grey blue and pale salmon, with a white zigzag ornament.

I decided to embroider the inner frame in cotton mat golden thread, in couching stitch, with a silver inner line in chain stitch. I chose different colours for outer frame than in original illumination: I wanted a better colour correspondence with the background and other threads I had used.
What is very important: the metallic thread should be incorporated as the last one, otherwise it gives you a lot of grief when you try to work around it with cotton and silk thread.
Pic.4: Inner frame in cotton yarn - couching stitch; outer frame in satin stitch with the zigzag ornament in silver thread - couching stitch. The grains are done over couching stitch of the inner frame, in silver thread (in couching stitch as well), and their heads are done in single stitches placed along the stalks. Photo by Bartosz Kolata

The last thing was applying the beads in the background, for starry night sky. I used German silver beads and red coral beads, with single stitches in silver thread for gleams.
Pic.5: The stars and planets embroidered in beads and silver thread, photo by Bartosz Kolata

The piece has found the best home: it is now in rural France, in the house of my very good Friends. The best place for it: Beth and Steve are both Gardeners! 

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas! And unusual Christmas ornaments...

I hope all of you are having nice and relaxing time with those precious ones around you...

Here you have pictures of Christmas tree decorations I crocheted for John and Fiona. They were part of Christmas presents, so I couldn't post pictures of them before Christmas came. But I am very proud of them, so have a look...

Crocheted Aston Martin for John 

Side view

Antlers and nose are felted

The car is crocheted with cotton yarn and silver thread 


Christmas boots for Fiona

Crocheted with cotton yarn and gold thread

They have tiny jingly bells attached

...and are lined inside with golden colour silk...

Enjoy the rest of your Christmas time...

Monday, 22 December 2014

A few thoughts about weaving, looms and frames

    Pic.1: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993, p 178

What is ‘weaving'?

It is a technique of making fabric. In weaving we have two sets of fibre (yarns, threads, twines) interlaced together, usually perpendicularly. The fibres placed vertically are called ‘warp’, those placed horizontally are ‘weft’, and their combination is ‘weave’

Weaving is a very old craft: the oldest found artifact comes from about 7000 BC, but some indications suggest that the craft is even older.


Weaving has a lot in common with basket making....


...and wicker fence making...




Weaving is usually done on a loom. There are many different kinds of looms, intended  for different size and purpose of produced fabric, designed for particular techniques used for weaving and of course dependent on the available materials a weaver has for building this tool:

1) a horizontal, floor loom


2)  a vertical loom

Pic.9: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993. p. 172

Pic.10: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993, p.174

3) a back-strap loom

Pic.12: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993, p.143

 ...and here you have a slightly different kind of back-strap loom... or rather no loom at all: a weaver is using her body as a loom, stretching warp around her waist and a big toe!
Pic.13: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993, p.87

A particular type of weaving is tablet weaving, called card weaving as well. In this technique a weaver uses special cards or tablets made of cardboard, wood, horn or metal, to create a shed to allow weft be passed through warp. 
There are many kinds of looms used in tablet weaving.


In peg loom weaving weft is initially placed on wooden pegs, which have warp attached to them. In process of weaving weft is slid from pegs down onto warp.


Finger weaving doesn't require any kind of loom. A weaver needs only to anchor a work piece on the beginning of the process. The anchor can be anything like, a hook in the wall, a chair, a door knob, a big toe...


In my weaving as an artist and a teacher I work on simple weaving frames. The idea of a frame is similar to a loom, but a weaving frame limits the size of a woven piece, while on a loom we can make fabrics and tapestries of very different lengths.

My weaving frames vary in size.

Pic.20: Uisce weaving on a small frame, photo by Mike Prendergast

Pic.21: Uisce working on a large frame, photo by Mike Prendergast 


As you can see, weaving is a craft of various techniques and many possibilities. It has a very long tradition and it is popular all over the world in many cultures.
You don't need to have sophisticated and expensive tools to enjoy the craft. Just a bit of patience...

Sunday, 21 December 2014

To all who are or want to be.... tangled in Fibres!

Welcome to Tangled in Fibres!

My name is Agnieszka ‘Uisce’ Jakubczyk. I am an embroiderer, a fibre artist and a teacher.
I would like to share my work, experience, inspiration and my view of the world with other people of similar interests.

Let come what comes!