Wednesday 15 July 2009

Stumpwork? Raised Work? Applied Work?

Stuart pictures such as this unusual one with a central cartouche portraying Solomon and Sheba surrounded by their children usually display a number of stitched techniques and levels of detachment from the ground fabric. Even if the motifs are 'flat' they would normally have been worked separately and elsewhere for later composition and application within the picture. Flower petals and leaves often have minimal attachment to the ground and so appear to have free articulation. While other motifs, particulary people, animals and birds display degrees of padding which lends them life-like contours. Often fabric padding is given more solidity by wire armatures or wooden supports, from which the pictures derive their name of stumpwork. This is not a derogatory term, it merely references directly and keeps in mind the specific method of construction. (Stumpje is Dutch for a little piece of wood or a twig.) There has been at least one occasion where the head of a bird was supported on - the cranium of real bird! The picture above is worked in a variety of coloured silks and metal threads. I saw a Stuart picture yesterday in St Fagan's Museum in Wales possessing a note from the time of its making stating that the value of gold and silver lace for picture cost 5 pounds sterling. This picture is courtesy of Sampson and Horne Antiques and you can see more by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. I am enthralled by stumpwork and the three dimensional aspects it affords a stitched piece. So, of course, I love to see little teasers such as this!
    I bought Jane Nicholas' stumpwork book (The Complete version) and pull it out when visitors come over. Then they too become enthralled by this medium. This is something on my list that I would like to learn and apply to my embroideries and stitching in the future.