[HNW] Re: Elizabethan slips questions

Karen karen_larsdatter at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 17 18:38:59 PST 2003

Sorry, I'm just on the digest, and am in the typical frenzy of
pre-deadline foo for the Compleat Anachronist ...

In terms of the shading, I'd recommend examining slips of a similar
style to the one(s) you wish to produce to determine how the shading
was done.  I found it very instructional to sit down and chart out a
motif from a 17th century spot sampler in King & Levey's book on the
V&A embroideries, but there are other books which actually offer
charted versions of slips that are a bit easier to work with -- I
recently acquired Pamela Warner's "Tudor Treasures to Embroider," which
features a few charted patterns from slips (which IMHO are some of the
very few useful patterns in the whole book in terms of having
*anything* to do with real 16th century needlework).

The Oxburgh Hangings can also be useful for looking at the way shading
was done -- Swain's "Needlework of Mary Queen of Scots" is my favorite
book for looking at the panels in color and in a readably close
picture.  Elder's charted versions in "V&A Needlepoint Collection"
aren't as faithful as I think they *could* have been, but it at least
supplies some suggested colors for reproducing the "Crocodil" and "A
Frogge" panels.

One of the things I'd found with the spot motif and with other
tent-stitch embroideries of the late 16th & early 17th centuries is
that the means of shading is done by having the dividing line between
the two colors be zig-zagged, so one stitch is the color from one side,
the next is the color from the other side, etc.  I suppose I could scan
in the chocolate bunny I'd done from the spot sampler if anyone would
find that useful.  (Sadly, the pattern is long gone -- I think it was
lost the last time I upgraded systems.)

Sometimes this zig-zag bit (oh, I'm sure there's a technical term for
this -- blending zone, maybe?) is only one stitch wide; I've seen a few
examples where it appears to be two or more stitches wide.

As to other locations for slips -- domestic furnishings are the most
common example (as Rachel mentioned) but I have in fact seen their use
elsewhere -- on ladies' petticoats.  I have only seen this in a few
portraits, though, so it may not be a typical fashion.

While they are hard to see at
(portrait of Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southampton, ca. 1600) they
are easier to see in the black & white photo of that painting in
Digby's "Elizabethan Embroidery," plate #33.

The plate opposite it in that book I think also represents a petticoat
embroidered with slips, though I am not as confident about saying that
all of the embroideries on the petticoat are slips.  I'm looking for
that portrait online, but I'm not finding it.  It is a portrait of
Queen Elizabeth at Hardwick Hall.  All I can find of it is an
upholstery textile inspired by the the petticoat in the portrait, at


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