Blackwell Roundel by Jenny Adin-Christie
12th July 2019
Jenny Adin-Christie’s exquisite project, Blackwell Roundel, featured in A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII may be small – the design is 10cm (4”) in diameter – however it is packed with a range of embroidery techniques.
The project was originally designed for a stitching retreat held in the Lakes District, UK, that included a visit to Blackwell House, a renowned masterpiece of Arts and Crafts architecture and design overlooking Lake Windermere.
The light-filled White Drawing Room was the particular inspiration for Jenny’s roundel.
The rowan, quince, oak and rose of the roundel design are featured in the drawing room, depicted in stunning wooden carvings and plaster work. The detail of these decorations is reflected in the rich texture of the embroidery created by a masterful combination of techniques from shadow work and eyelets to flowing lines of goldwork and sculptural satin stitch, all worked in silk and metal threads. Translucent organza was chosen as the base for the embroidery to symbolize the sense of light and space in the room, along with sparkling bead and paillette highlights.
There is a lot to delight in while working this piece, and it is important to refer to the order of work in the detailed instructions, as some elements for each motif need to be worked first, and some should be worked after other embroidery is complete.
Stitching begins with the delicate tracery of the shadow work leaves of the rowan, quince and oak, embroidered through a single layer of organza. This is a beautiful technique that adds subtle depth and lace-like texture and step-by-step instructions are included for working the double back stitch that creates the shadow work. It’s a great idea to practise a leaf or two on separate fabric to ensure you are happy with the spacing of your stitches and the resulting herringbone net.
Gleaming gold silk dupion is applied behind the quince fruits and rose before a second layer of organza is placed behind the first to add strength to the base for the remaining embroidery.
The quince fruits are shaded with satin stitch and outlined with paillettes and pearl purl. The remaining quince leaves are kid leather applied over felt padding and are outlined with softly shaded silk gimp and pearl purl.
The plump rowan berries are worked with an eyelet at the tip and padded satin stitch for the fruit, cleverly shaded with a second colour to increase the rounded appearance.
The shadow work leaves are outlined with silk gimp, and the remaining rowan leaves feature cut lengths of smooth and bright check purls in different shades of gold, ivory and copper worked over cotton floche padding.
The acorns each have one side worked with connecting eyelets and this delicate embroidery contrasts delightfully with the textured caps, or cupules, depicted in a variety of beads and tiny chips cut from metal thread. The leaves, already partially stitched with shadow work, are completed with shaded satin stitch.
The wild rose features a striking centre of folded, silk-covered plate. The gold petals, shaded with the shadow appliquéd silk dupion, are outlined with gimp and highlighted with lustrous pearl beads. The kid leather leaves are applied without padding and outlined with silk gimp and pearl purl. The rose hip is embroidered with shaded padded satin stitch, with a paillette highlight on the fly stitch sepals.
To finish, the stems for each motif, worked in metal thread or silk gimp, flow towards the centre of the design, melding into a beaded motif of four leaves.
The completed embroidery is a symphony of gentle shades, subtle variations of depth, compelling texture and twinkling reflections.
Originally intended to be set into an Arts and Crafts inspired wooden stand with a drawer and pincushion lid, your roundel can also be enjoyed displayed in a frame.
Make Your Own Blackwell Roundel
Blackwell Roundel by Jenny Adin-Christie from A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII features graceful Arts and Crafts inspired motifs in a range of techniques using silk and metal threads