Back to Blythe House and this week I have a plan to fully document the second, centrally embroidered pillow cover T.81-1929.
I now have a system for documenting the objects by taking photos and microscope images of each element and pattern. It’s essentially a massive systematic data gathering exercise, even if the initial numbering of areas is somewhat arbitrary! But it’s physically exhausting being on your feet with your head bent over a camera for 6 or 7 hours.
I met Rosie again and, much like our first meeting, she was an incredible source of knowledge, particularly about silk threads. We had a close look as the threads used on the pillow cover – the ones used for the motif outlines are twisted, while the strands used for the infill patterns appear to have no twist at all and, according to Rosie, would have taken a great deal of skill and dexterity to work with.
I also observed her tracing directly from the embroidery piece she is researching. This allows her to have a full scale drawing of the motif with technical notes on the stitches and techniques used. This is not something I am going to attempt as the Blackwork is far too fragile and the range of stitches used are not a complex as the piece Rosie is looking at. However, it has given me an idea and I have spent the evening drawing a grid onto mylar (a type of clear plastic film they use in the archive) which I am going to lay over the embroideries so I can get a standard scale for the motifs when I come to print out the photographs back in the studio.