Some year ago I was asked if I wanted to recreate a medieval Mithra. I had been silk embroidered and was going to be a part of an exhibit at Ribe Dom. The Mithra had been found in Iver Munch Tomb and I had been given a copy of the water sketch that had been drawn in 1894. Iver Munk had been the last Catholic Bishop in Ribe.
The colours on the sketch were very faded and some parts were missing, my job was to recreate the missing parts and decide which colours to use. I ordered a large portion of flat silk thread from China with 800 colours and started drawing.
Here you can see what I had to work with. The front part was the annunciation scene, and most of the important bits were there, except form the face of Mary. I knew Mary’s cloak had to be blue. and looking at church frescos from the medieval period in Denmark I could see that he was often in a green cloak. So I went with green, The remaining colour of his sleeves was red, and Mary’s dress was white. In the description it said that it was embroidered on a dark brown silk. The silk I got for the project was delivered by Historicum and was dyed for this purpose.
When I did this project I had little experience with transferring large patterns. I only had A4 sized paper so i decided to tape 2 pieces together. I later discovered that it had influence on the quality of the dots i would get, so I would not recommend doing that! Here you see the drawing process and the pricking. my pricking tool is made of bone with a new needle. I found it in a shop that sells old embroidery stuff. I do love using old tools and I my collection is growing slowly, but it is getting more difficult finding new tools.
I started working on the back side of the Mithra. It was the simplest and I had some learning to do before I did the front. I quickly learned how much a really good hand cream meant. I used one of my slate frames for this job, and keeping my good hand underneath and my other above it went quite fast. I found out that keeping most of the tread above and just dragging enough thread to the back side, would keep the thread from making knots. It also helped me to find the right point to insert the needle again. In the picture you can see my copy laying beside my embroidery and my first attempt on a leave.
This is the finished back side before and after I took if of my frame. I was quite pleased with the result and with how close it came to the drawing.
Starting out doing the front was exiting! Looking at the drawing I found that it seem to have been made with very long stitches. That had the benefit of cutting down on how many stitches I had to do, but it also meant I had to take care not to get any open spaces between the thread.
I started with Gabriel. I used different shades of green in the at the same time, because of the difference of colour in the drawing. I also used the thread directions I sew there.
Gabriel is almost done in this picture. In the drawing the texture of his hair puzzled me. I ended up turning my silk thread around the needle and sewing through the turns. It gave me an impression of curls that I liked.
After starting on Mary I took this picture of the back side. This shows how little of the silk thread ended up there.
For Mary I used gold thread for her halo and the pattern on the pulpit. As you might know by now I have a soft spot for goldwork.
To find out exactly what had been standing on Gabriel’s speech bubble, I looked at the frescos again, and went with “ave Maria Benedicta tu”
The only thing left to do was the band that consisted of leaves running down a wine. It was now ready to send of for the final touches.
Here you can see the final exhibit. The costume was made by Historicum.eu how also held all the threads. The staff and rings where made by Bronzeart.dk.
I was invited to the opening of the exhibit where I took these pictures. This is the only piece of embroidery of mine that is on public display.