Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Needlework Museum in |Salzkammergut

We've just been off in Salzkammergut (Bad Ishl, Hallstatt etc.) for a few days. I found out about a small handwork museum in Traunkirchen set up by the Goldhaubenverein. In parts of Austria there is a tradition of womens festival wearing golden bonnets. I've enjoyed seeing them from a distance, but had no idea how they were made. I have a much better idea now. The embroidery is done with tiny gold sequins and beads, and the shape is formed by gathering a long rectangle. (see http://www.e-punkt.net/html/badischl_goldhauben.htm ) The exhibits also included many other techniques. I was particularly intrigued by the Teneriffe lace. I want to do it!

Needlework in English Cathedrals

We were in England early this summer for a week on a canal boat. I didn't manage to hit a stitching store, but we had a lot of fun. We visited Worcester cathedral. I enjoyed examining the frontal that was on the altar there. From a distance you see abstract clocks of colour. Come closer and you see that the whole thing is three dimensional, with each block of colour set at a different ditance from the base, and done in different types of stiching, from the very easy to fairly complicated. The explanation said that the 'hanging' had been stitched by 'local artists'. It is supposed to represent the cathedral reflected in the waves of the Severn River. To be honest, I didn't see it,(even after reading that), but I quite admire the designer. It is lovely from a distance, and close up. It uses the various skills of the stitchers available (I assume that each was given the material, shape, and an idea of what the end product was supposed to look like, and let loose to work it her own way. The variety of stitches and interpretion add a richness to the final piece that is hard for a single designer to manage. But the whole thing works together.

In the morning I went for Morning Prayer and Communion in the crypt. I have to confess that I missed a lot of Morning Prayer: I was studying the altar. It was a nearly cubical block, with a swirling textured pattern. From my seat, I couldn't figure out whether I was looking at a block of wonderful stone with the colours and swirls carefully intensified by the skill of a stone mason, or whether the altar was covered by a quilted parament that covered at least three sides. I finally decided on cloth, and later examination proved me right. A wonderful subtlety that delighted me.

As a counterpoint to the modern pieces I enjoyed in Worcester, was the lovely exhibit at the Eastern end of Chester Cathedral. In two chapels presently unused for liturgical purposes were several pieces from the Cathedrals collection - late 19th and early 20th century vestments and paraments chosen to illustrate the influence of William Morris. Pure joy to look at! I own a small hanging of the Good Shepherd, and was intrigued to see that one of the pieces there had the top end of 'my' shepherd on it. (BTW My piece is not just away in a closet, as it was used as part
of the altar decoration for the Methodist church here at Easter.)