The Altar Frontal is often one of the visual focal points in a church. For high Festival Days, the church has historically used its best altar hangings. As is the case in many churches, our church lacks appropriate altar hanging for almost every season of the church year. The hangings in use are from a previous sanctuary. There are problems with many of the sets with regards to out-dated designs, hangings that are too small in scale for the areas where they are used, and simple wear and tear from use, and so, as time allows, the sets are being replaced.
While there are several new sets in the works, let’s look at the Easter Set which will consist of various hand embroidered Ecclesiastical Designs to be used on an assortment of altar hangings and vestment pieces. For the past several weeks, a few posts have made their way here detailing the Angus Dei Ecclesiastical Embroidery Designs. Recently, I posted about the project beginnings of the Agnus Dei here:
Tonight, I will give you a quick look at The Largest Lamb which is intended for use as the main Ecclesiastical Embroidery Design motif for the Altar Frontal.
The design is large at about 15″ in width. After making the mistake with the green hill on the smaller Angus Dei, I knew this one would have a more simple shaded hill. The hills are both large and small Agnus Dei are stitched with the same colors; they are just slightly different in the way the shading worked out with the long and short stitching. A major difference between the Two Lambs is the sky. The sky in the smaller lamb was stitched using Soie Ovale in an assortment of blue colors. That worked well, but the colors were not very bright. They were a little on the muted side. Once the gold passing thread was stitched in place, the blue started taking on a green cast in certain lighting conditions. While I checked out other options in flat silks, there was not much available out there. So what to do? The color concept I am looking for with the sky is a bright and gloriously vivid blue and radiant sky which will proclaim the glorious Resurrection. But how to get that color of blue?
The answer came in an unusual way. I have been doing some volunteer work for a Monastery and there were some silk embroidery floss skeins left over from their art needlework department. One of the items remaining was this blue in a floss called Royal Floss. This embroidery floss was manufactured by the Belding Brothers Company. They were a top of manufacture of silk threads, fabrics, and embroidery flosses. At one point in time, they had 4 factories in the United States, and one factory in Canada. One of their main factories was in Belding, Michigan. The story of the Belding Silk Mills is quite fascinating. The company had its start when four brothers bought some silk floss and sold it door to door. Now the floss that I have from the Monastery dates back in time to at least prior to the 1920’s. It is quite possible that some of it even dates back to the late 1800’s. The Royal Floss in the photo above is a nice, bright blue. Even for its age there is no sign of fading with regards to the color. It is a two ply floss that has a very light twist. There is not really anything that I have seen today that is comparable to this floss. This is not a delicate floss. It is about the same thickness as six strands of Soie Paris (6 strands that have not been separated). I noticed with this floss, that if the two plies were separated, a single ply became the equivalent of a flat silk. I gave it a try to see if it would stitch as a flat silk, and it did. It is a little more challenging to use than Soie Ovale, but with care and keeping thread lengths on the shorter side, it works.
The color seems to work as well. The blue in this piece is a solid blue, rather than using various shades. The color needs to be “read” from at least halfway down the aisle, so the brighter the color of blue, the better.
The eliminate a greenish cast to the Soie Ovale caused by the No. 4 Smooth Passing Non-tarnish thread on the smaller Agnus Dei, a different goldwork thread was chosen for this larger piece. The selected gold thread is the #4 Smooth Passing with the Silk Core from Access Commodities, purchased through Hedgehog Handworks. This goldwork thread is slightly smaller in diameter than the No. 4 Smooth Passing Non-tarnish thread, and has a subtle, subdued sheen.
There are a few other differences between the large and small Angus Dei Ecclesiastical Embroidery Designs. But those will have to wait until next time. I would like to get a few more stitches in before calling it an evening. Be sure to leave a comment about gold threads or flat silk threads that you have tried.
Solo Dei Gloria
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Filed under: Agnus Dei, Altar Frontal, Christian Symbols, Easter Church Vestment Set, Ecclesiastical Embroidery, Ecclesiastical Embroidery Design Tagged: Agnus Dei, Altar Frontal, Belding Brothers, Christian Symbols, Easter Church Vestment Set, Ecclesiastical Embroidery, Ecclesiastical Embroidery Design, Elizabethan Twist, goldwork embroidery, Royal Floss, The Tale of Two Lambs