Monday, July 19, 2010

The beauty of blackwork

I originally wanted to call my blogging alter-ego 'The ADD Artist,' and this blackwork embroidered bookmark is a perfect example of why. While working on my 'Look at the Birdie' collage, I happened to see some blackwork in a publication I was viewing. My collage became instantly passe, and I decided that I had to try some blackwork NOW!

Luckily for me, I had been enthralled with blackwork and embroidery in the past, probably four or five years ago, and so I had all the supplies needed to begin. I looked online for some patterns and found this bookmark. I think it turned out great. I am now in the process of creating my own pattern for a blackwork house, which I think will be fabulous when completed! (OK, I know I really should have said 'if completed,' but you gotta have faith, right?)

A little note on the history of blackwork embroidery:

The true origin of this type of embroidery seems to have been with the Moors and Arabs, who brought blackwork to England in the thirteenth century. It became even more popular when the Spanish princess, Katharine of Aragon, married Henry VIII and influenced the English court with her passion for embroidery. The stitch she favored was known as 'spanishwork,' having become part of the Spanish culture during the rule of the Moors.

When Katharine and Henry divorced in 1533, the term 'spanishwork' was replaced with 'blackwork' because of the use of black thread on white fabric. It became immensely popular in Elizabethan times, with many examples of blackwork depicted on clothes, particularly collars and cuffs, in portraits of Queen Elizabeth and her court.

Blackwork can also be worked with different colored thread on white fabric (I particularly enjoy red and white) or, conversely, white thread on black fabric. It's a very simple form of embroidery, but I must warn you if you decide to try it, your eyes will get loopy! Do you remember those 3D pictures that were all the rage in the early '90s that you had to stare at until your eyes 'zoned out' and then you could see the 3D image? That will happen with blackwork! But it's still fun and well worth the effort! :) I am, as always,

Dianne the Dabbler

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