While on retreat, we've had the incredible opportunity to see some of the 17th century needlework that lives in the Colonial Williamsburg textile collection. We were allowed to take photographs for our personal use, so I can't share what we saw on the blog, but suffice it to say that I left with a sense of wonder and delight.
Imagine, if you will, a panel featuring a gentleman and his lady, standing under a canopy, all in raised embroidery. . . but with the background filled with tiny embroidered vignettes, showing people going about their everyday lives. . . including a tiny man climbing a fruit tree while his friends looked on below.
Imagine a tortoise shell casket with the Four Seasons depicted on the top as lovely ladies with the most phenomenally stitched dresses in a variety of techniques. Autumn was holding a cornucopia over her shoulder filled with minutely stitched berries and fruits. Winter held a book. My casket will now have to have someone holding a book.
One thing that I realized as I looked is that we simply don't have the silk threads they had, some as fine as a single hair. And how tiny did the needles have to be to stitch detached buttonhole, fitting each stitch between the others made with this fine, fine thread?
Meanwhile, I'm working on the prework for the workshop I'm taking in less than two weeks, and it is a long, long journey.
I'm a bit farther along now than I was when I took this picture, but I don't think I'll be able to pull anything else I brought out of the bag the rest of the time I'm here. However, it must be done, and luckily I have more stitching hours available to me over the next three days.