This 18-month course is going to take a very deep dive into the whitework/cutwork found on English band samplers of the 17th century. While we are attracted to the large geometry patterns, often called reticella, there are several other techniques which are characteristic and found on most samplers of the period in concert with these complex bands. Over 1/2 of the course will be devoted to the reticella techniques.
The course is a mix of learning techniques, projects and designing your own whitework band sampler. You are being given enough materials to work one to three small pieces of linen with trial stitches so you can feel confident with techniques and material choices. Then there are two sampler projects, each with one band of reticella to explore a mixed colored counted work band sampler with the cutwork. One is based on a sampler from the Winterthur Museum collection and the second is inspired from a favorite piece of mine in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. This piece is a unique example of colored silk threads being used for reticella and I think it is a unique project that combines ease of sight because of the colored threads but also technical challenges to hide the color changes and thus it provides a master class in this reticella technique on the whole.
The third project is a punta-in-aria length of lace. A fourth project can be worked, a band sampler of your own design based on all the materials we will be looking at, provided patterns, and the real 16th-17th century pattern books. In order to do this, the course is taking on the unique challenge that presented the 17th century teacher/embroiderer - the geometry and math of this type of work. When looking at band samplers, we will find that often the pattern didn’t quite fit the chosen width of the sampler the person had chosen to make and that had consequences that had to be filled in or not. It could make for awkward spots in an otherwise stunning piece. I wanted to solve that and answer the questions of how to scale the patterns, how wide to work the bands, over what count and if you were working all these bands with disparate scales of withdrawn threads, how to make them all fit exactly in the boundaries of the sampler without excess room left over in the band.
The course will include detailed photographs of at least five samplers to illustrate techniques. This will be augmented by Pintrest boards to go with the course as both a general reference and specific references in the course text to illustrate points.
Each technique will be accompanied by many patterns which can be cut and arranged and used directly as patterns for your personal sampler. I will also be giving guidance on how to convert many of the patterns found in the 16th-17th century pattern books to the correct scale so you can use them as well as how to look at a pattern and determine the best stitch choices and progression of working the pattern.
Choices of materials is a big part of this course. You have three linen counts that the course has been designed to use. A 30ct, 40ct, and a 53/55ct linen have been provided with enough of each to be used for two projects - the one I intended and your choice of which for the personal sampler. So the ambitious will have extra linen for other projects of this type or can repurpose it. Both silk and linen threads will be used for the samplers matching the thread to the original pieces.
The kits will include all three linens mentioned, silk threads, linen threads, needles, special blue contact paper, and a pair of scissors made especially for this type of fine cutwork.