Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quick update from Isis

Hello dear readers!

These past months, I haven't been able to write on this blog, for which I am truly sorry.

I got a bit of a thesis whiplash, so to say :) Mr. B. has moved so I've been busy helping out with renovating and decorating the new house. I went on vacation for three lovely weeks (to France and Switserland). I visited two evens recently, one in Germany and one in Holland. I started a new study: Textile conservation and restoration, in Antwerp. My phd. proposal is slowly getting shape.
But alas, I have not made any progress on getting my thesis published yet. One: step in the right direction: before the end of this week I'm going to buy a laptop, this means I can work during long hours of train traveling! Yay :)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Museum Mayer van den Bergh

This week I visited the museum Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp, Belgium. It's a small, charming museum with an interesting collection of medieval art: embroidery (opus anglicanum), sculpture (wood, ivory) and paintings.

I really liked this panel from circa 1400, because of the colors and details such as the apron and the shoes. (read more about it here, go to "collections" and then "Antwerp-Baltimore")

The picture below and more nativity scenes can be found here. Too bad I can't read it, but the pictures are interesting!

Gold thread used in backstitch?

Note: please read the comments to this post for new insights

Bertus from Deventer Burgerscap told me about this nice picture of a 15th century leather pouch, embroidered in gold thread:

The embroidery used to decorate the pouch raises some very interesting questions: Is gold thread used in techniques other than couched work, i.e. techniques in which the thread disappears at the back of the work, such as brick stitch or backstitch? If so, then how is this achieved?

Usually, there are two arguments against the use of gold thread in techniques other than couched work:
1)gold thread is too expensive to be used at the back of a work, where it will not be seen
2)gold thread is not flexible enough to be used in stitches such as backstitch or brick stitch.

Still, it appears to me that in some rare cases, gold thread is used in techniques which involve sewing the thread through the fabric. The pouch above, for example, seems to be embroidered in backstitch rather than couched work.

Other examples , complete with close up pictures, of this particular use of gold thread can be found here:

Takacs, I. (2006), Sigismundus Rex et Imperator. Kunst und Kultur zur Zeit Sigismunds von Luxumburg 1387-1437., J.P. Himmer, Augsburg p 96 embroidered cloth from ca 1830 with unknown purpose/function

Tongeren, Basiliek O.L. Vrouw Geboorte. I Textiel. (1988), Leuven: Peeters. On the cover is a close up from a pouch dating from ca 1300.
See also Isis' documentation on this pouch here:

It would be nice to know more about this (rare) use of gold thread. If anyone knows more about it, please let us know!

BTW: the leather pouch is for sale. Please let me know if one of you has bought it! (it's too expensive for me ...)

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