This weekend had a few car trips on the schedule. It’s always great to have a trip, since that usually means someone else is driving and I can catch up on reading new additions to my Ecclesiastical Embroidery library. The books selected included embroidery books recently arrived from Liverpool Cathedral. A few weeks back, one of the posts was about Elizabeth from Watts and Co. Elizabeth had a fascinating history relating to Ecclesiastical Embroidery; and as a result of her efforts, the Liverpool Embroidery Gallery exists today.
I had been reading about the Liverpool Embroidery Gallery and decided to check the online gift shop to see if there were any books available from the Gallery. The good news was, yes there were!
There were two volumes that seemed to be of interest, and the cost was reasonable. They arrived in the rush of the Holiday Season, and were still waiting for a read through from cover to cover.
The book, The Embroideries at Liverpool, was written by Mary Schoeser, curator of the Cathedral Embroidery Gallery, and her team of researchers. The book gives an account of the making of the embroideries for the Cathedral. And what a fascinating story that is to tell! The Liverpool Cathedral history is fairly recent when compared to many other Cathedrals, having its beginnings with several architectural design contests. As part of the process of building the Cathedral, there was a young lady from the diocese who put forth the idea that all of the embroideries should be designed by one designer, and the work carried out by the same persons. This would result in both continuity and consistency, as the colors and styles would be for the building. The book goes on to tell the story of how a group of ladies not only made the fabulous embroideries, but also helped with financing the projects. The results were nothing short of remarkable.
George Fredrick Bodley, an expert on Ecclesiastical embroidery, was appointed as the designer. He was reluctant at first to have amateurs involved, and insisted on having all members submit samples of the their work for approval. He also insisted that the members were not to embroider any of the faces for any figures in the embroideries. Over time, as he saw the completed work was of a high standard, he allowed several members whose work really impressed him, to work figure embroideries.
The photography in the Ecclesiastical Embroidery booklet is detailed enough to see the stitching in many of the pieces. The robes on the above figure clearly show the detail stitches on the amice apparel (the piece that looks like a collar), and the sleeves on the Dalmatic (see photo below). The shading on the garment is also clearly visible, and a clever way of achieving the effect of light and shadow in fabric folds. Clear photos that show how embroidery stitches were made always make an embroidery book a worthwhile purchase. High quality photos can serve as design inspiration, technique instruction, and much more.
The history packed into this tiny 40 page booklet is amazing. It would take months of research and one would still not be able to make the connections of so many of the great designers, firms and convents of the day who were involved in the field of Ecclesiastical Embroidery.
The second book about the Cathedral is to get a feel for the building itself. It looks stunning inside, with the organs, bridge, bells, and stained glass windows. How special it would be to see the Liverpool Cathedral in person.
Wishing everyone a Blessed Celebration of the Epiphany in your special place of worship, be it a humble chapel, or a Grand Cathedral.
Solo Dei Gloria
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Filed under: Ecclesiastical Embroidery, Ecclesiastical Sewing Tagged: Ecclesiastical Embroidery, Ecclesiastical Sewing, George Fredrick Bodley, Lieverpool Embroidery Gallery, Liverpool Cathedral Embroidery Gallery, Mary Schoeser Curator Liverpool Cathedral, The Embroideries at Liverpool