Friday, 21 October 2011

Featuring another great project: Hilkkas patch for the "We have Dragons" guild project

Again I am very happy to be able to present another lovely project to you - this time a lovely embroidery of the very talented Lady Hilkka Susinen:

Hilkka Susinens patch for the
Dragon's Needle Embroidery Guild project "We Have Dragons"

Hilkka: Lord Odo de Fu

I saw this lovely embroidery irl at Rhaglan and her stitches are very small and even - very lovely embroidery and the dragon is just too cute. *lol*

Hilkka is also a member of the "Dragon's Needle Embroidery Guild", which is a guild of the Kingdom of Drachenwald within the SCA and she is living in the beautiful lands of The Principality of Insulae Draconis (Iceland, Ireland & United Kingdom). :)

And some words for you from the artist - Hilkka was so nice to send me also her documentation for the A&S competition and also the story of 'Odo de Feu' to share it with you:
The stitches used are:
Stem Stitch, Chain Stitch, Split Stitch, and French Knot.
Wool base fabric, cotton embroidery floss

Technique:Stem-Stich, Chain-Stitch, Split-Stitch and French Knot


This piece has both an historical and an SCA inspiration. The historical inspiration is from Beowulf, in which the robbery of a chalice from the dragon's hoard causes it to fly out and wreak havoc along the Geats2. The style, as discussed below, is adapted from an early 9th-century sledge carving found in the Norwegian Oseberg queen's burial. In this version, the dragon is upright and, like the Beowulf dragon, winged. The chalice is shown disproportionately large to emphasize its importance to the story. The choice of an early 9th century model represents an early-to-moderate view of the dating of Beowulf (or at least the basic story), although dates suggested for the poem range from the latter part of the 7th century to the beginning of the eleventh and the issue of Scandinavian influence on it is equally debated3.
On the SCA side, the patch has been made for this year's wall hanging initiated by the Dragon's Needle Embroidery Guild “We have Dragons”. It is a depiction of the noble dragon Odo de Feu of the Costa del Lough Rí, an honourable member of the Shire of Eplaheimr and welcome guest at so many of our events, with a chalice that might have started out in the early mediaeval church near Odo's home...
Historical Design Reference:
The design is an adaptation of a sledge carving. It came from one of several sledges found in the Oseberg Burial Mound4 (820 A.D.), three of them were covered in carvings and most likely ceremonial. The carving-motif singled out for this project shows a dragon and possibly a cat.
As mentioned above, the basic outline of the dragon has been altered to a “rampant” pose and given wings to fit with both the Beowulf description and the noble dragon Odo de Feu. The chalice's basic shape is based on the Tassilo chalice6, a characteristic chalice of the style which was common at least through the time of Theophilus; the ornamentation is much simpler than the Tassilo chalice, which shows saints' faces that would be inappropriate for an early Northern piece, but also has bands and sections of twining and knotwork designs interspersed.
Notes on the Work:
Though the embroidery floss used to complete this project is cotton, in period it would have been wool or silk thread. I chose to used cotton thread for reasons of availability in Ireland today. Silk thread would have been used during the Viking age for embroidery and tablet weaving; full garments made from silk would not have been comon. Garments most often were made from either wool or linen7.
The base fabric is wool, which would have been done in Viking age as well.
The earliest finds for the “French Knot” stitch date to the 14th century. I did, however, include it in my work as I find it works well, giving the impression of gemstones on the chalice. The Tassiliokelch shows several rows of gemstones embedded in the gildings around the knob.
At this point the material is zig-zaged with the sewing machine.
The piece will form part of this year's wall-hanging from the Dragon's Needle Embroidery Guild “We have Dragons”. The demensions (20cm x 20cm) are indicated with modern sewing thread for assembly-purpose only.

Lord Odo de Feu and the Chalice
Once upon a time there lived a dragon on the western marshes of Lough Devnaree1, a dragon so fierce, no-one dares to speak his name nor tell his story. So here is the story of his cousin instead:
In a time long gone, in the heartlands of Lough Devnaree, there lived a dragon, known as Lord Odo de Feu of the Costa del Lough Rí2, but everyone just called him “Odo”. Unlike his cousin, he was was the most gentle of all dragons, though his humour could be on the rough side.
As it happened, not far from his dwelling a new church was to be build. An army of tradesmen descended onto the lands around a holy well and over the next few summers it grew into a monastary complex with the bee-hive-church – as it was the coustom at the time – forming its centre of spirituality and power3.
One day, his fierce cousin from the western marshes won a gruesome victoty over his longtime enemy who hailed from the southern bogs4.
Customs now dictated, that he would have his relations over to celebrate his recent success. Neither in the mood to put up with any of them nor to share his loot, but having to comply with ancient customs, he limited the amount of liquid plunder shared to one glass for each of his guest; may be hoping, none would take upon him a jurney as arduous for such limited reward.
It has to be said that Odo was particularly fond of a sip once in a while and may be even a bit too fond of it at others.
Seeing that even with the finest horses breed these days it hardly worthes the trip for only a short stay, Odo said to himself, “there must be a way to make this journey worth while.” and see, there was; Lord Odo de Feu remembered folks telling of chalices the humans of the holy dwelling used; mocking him off his small frame, saying they'd be too large for him event to lift and drink from it, nevermind “borrowing” one.
As night fell, Odo rose to the skys and silently made his way to the church, circling over the religious compund until the last lights went dim, he descended. Silently creaping into the building housing the artefacts, he got hold of a small chalice, a child's one really, but of perfect size for him to seize.
The day of the dreaded celebrations grew closer and the fierce dragon's spirits rose with every day and every hour that passed without a single one of his relatives showing his face – or wine glass for this matter – until, almost at the last minute, our beloved Lord Odo de Feu, struggling under the weight of the chalice, arived at the western marches of Lough Devnaree.
The fierce dragon was furious, not only was he obliged to make good on his promis and fulfill old customs, but he realised he had been tricked. Worst of all, there was nothing he could do about it but to give Odo his share of the loot.

Many thanks to Hilkka for the possibility to feature your project - I love it! :)

Featured Artisans of the last months:
June, July August: Racaires "Weiberlisten" Wallhanging
May: Jahanaras "woven fabric for the Pennsic Gift Bags"
April: Renikas "embroidered 14th century buttoned dress" in progress
March: Rakonczays "Mars and Silvia" tapestry in progress
February: Honors "Bayeux style tapestry"

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