In Praise of the Needlewoman by Gail Sirna

In medieval times the scribes of Europe copied books by hand. New writing styles were developed to celebrated the publication of a new translation of the Bible, the marriage of a king, or the election of the Pope. Especially in sacred manuscripts each page was begun with an elaborate capital letter, richly conceived and often picturing some scene appropriate to the text of that page.

The Needlewoman draws from that tradition but celebrates the embroiderer. I have chosen an N for my illuminated capital. It is embellished with golden crosses with jewel like centers, and on the curved side more jewels are utilized to make this letter glow. Inside the capital N is a stitcher, busy at her frame. Around her float the tools of her trade: scissors and thimbles, and laying tools. The N is outlined with couched Japanese gold.

The remainder of the word is rendered in Italic calligraphy worked in silver gilt and outlined in the same red of the capital.. The remainder of the composition is embellished with a delicate tracery and lovely flowers and berries.

The entire composition is framed with a rich but simple border of metallic threads and golden paillettes.

I have been studying calligraphy for Teacher cum Laude and this is my first design incorporating calligraphy techniques with needlework.