This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
The design for an altar frontal and a super-frontal given herewith are to be worked on red velvet; or rather the embroidery, first executed on linen, is transferred to the velvet. The detail for working the pomegranates on the superfrontal will serve also for the detached flowers powdered over the lower hanging. The open portion would look well in basket stitch, a good deal stuffed, of gold threads, sewn down with a deep-coloured red silk; or it may be treated as shown in the chawing, with the seeds worked in satin stitch of gold-coloured silk, or with Japanese gold sewn very closely in a circular form, and the spaces filled in with French knots of silk. These should not all be of one hue, but some in deep reds, with others toning towards gold, should he-used. The lines marking the outlines and the divisions of the fruit should be worked in stem stitch, in the deep purplish red which has come to be conventionally used for pomegranate. Between these lines the silk used should be golden in hue, shading into reds at the two extremities. Care must be taken, however, to keep the reds sufiiciently distinct from the velvet ground. The crown of petals at the top may be worked wholly in rich gold-colour, with a little red introduced, so as to give richness, and they may be outlined with Japanese gold. The foliage at the back of the fruit should be lighter i,n tone than the sprays at the side. It is impossible to give written directions for the hues to be selected, as they must depend on the tone of the ground. The buds must introduce a brighter pomegranate shade than any used in the fruit. Although they must he kept somewhat low-in tone, so as not to appear patchy, they must follow out to brighter tones the colours used in the pomegranate. As there is a great preponderance of red and yellow in the fruit and flowers, the greens used in the foliage would need to contain a good deal of blue, but they may be toned off into bronze, so as to carry on the colouring of the former and bring it into relation with the gold thread.
Pomegranate Detail Of The Superfrontal Shown Below.
Altar Frontal and Superfrontal. Designed by Sarah Wynfield Rhodes.
Detail of Altar Frontal shown on the opposite page.
After the sprigs have been completely worked, pasted, and left to dry on the linen ground, they must be cut out as close to the edge as possible
Embroidery Design (Sweet Pea) Sui
(For suggestions page 265.) and carefully pressed into the frontal by measurements, so that the worker may be absolutely certain of their accuracy. They must then be sewn down with close, small stitches, and after all is done it will be found that a very rich effect is obtained by placing a couched line all round of narrow red chenille, slightly darker in tone than the velvet of the ground. This line is invisible at a short distance, but it is enough to throw up the work in a remarkable manner, giving quite a raised look to it.
Tea Cloth. By J. C. Willoughby.
The superfrontal, if preferred, may be of a rich red silk damask, in which case the chenille might be thicker; but, as a general rule, the superfrontal looks best of the richer material, where two are used in combination. The device in the centre of the altar-cloth is somewhat complicated, but if carefully worked will look very rich. The anchor is intended to form merely a rich background for the cross, which should stand out with great brilliance. It should be cut out in a velvet, only a little lighter than the ground, if the whole frontal is of velvet, or in a dark, very rich red velvet if the frontal is of damask satin. It must be backed by covering a well-stretched piece of line backing smoothly over with shoemaker's paste, and then with the hands carefully pressing down the velvet anchor, and allowing it to dry perfectly before it is cut. Perhaps a safer plan is to cut a piece of velvet the size of the anchor, allowing a little for edges, and pasting it on to the framed or stretched backing before marking out the anchor at all. In either case it is impossible to take too much care in cutting it, or in placing it on the frontal, where it must be securely sewn over with small stitches and then outlined with dark red chenille.
The cross must be marked and worked in very rich basket stitch upon stout linen and pasted, before it is removed from m the frame or cut out. The basket stitch must be worked over cord laid very evenly from side to side of the cross, three threads of gold being placed side by side over two rows of cord, and stitched down as firmly as possible with red twist silk before they are taken across the next two cords and treated in the same manner. When one complete row has been thus worked from end to end of the cross, another row of three threads of gold must be laid alongside of the one completed; but the sewing down with red twist must be done between the spaces left in the last row. The third row will be laid down as before over two lines of cord, but beginning on the same level as the first row, and the stitchings occurring in the same lines. When the basket work is finished, and the paste at the back quite dry, the cross must be cut out and sewn exactly in its place at even distances within the anchor. Four stars, also worked in raised gold upon linen, must be also prepared and carefully cut out. It would be difficult to work these stars in basket stitch, so they may be done in ordinary couching, following the points of the star, and sewn down with Maltese silk of the colour of the gold, so as to make the stitchings invisible, or a line of red stitches may be taken from the centre to each point.
The stems must be placed in the vacant spaces beyond the arms of the cross, which must now be finished by a line of gold thread stitched all round, and one of red chenille beyond. The rays coming from behind the cross, and over the anchor, must be worked after both are placed upon the frontal, and finished off with thin couched lines. Fine Japanese gold sewn down with invisible silk may be used, but it must be carried through the material at both ends of the rays. Fine, real gold thread would be better, and, in fact, ought to be used, as it can be threaded through the needle and worked in so much more artistically.
The crown of thorns cannot be placed until all the rest of the device is finished. It should be pounced and carefully marked out upon linen, framed, and worked with shades of gold-coloured silk brightened up with gold thread.
It will require very delicate workmanship to transfer this wreath, as it should not be outlined with a couching line, but worked on with its own colours, following the "lay" of the embroidery stitches.
The Alpha and Omega must also be separately worked on linen, and applied. They would look best either in brick stitch or some other form of couching, or they might be worked with very good effect in gold-coloured silk feather stitch, and strongly outlined with Japanese gold. They must also be surrounded by a couched line of chenille.
A handsome gold bullion fringe always looks the richest for an altar-hanging of velvet, but if expense is a difficulty a silk fringe of dead gold colour will look very well. It is a mistake - except on a white festival altar-hanging - to have a fringe of silk introducing the colours used in the embroidery, as it generally looks patchy at a little distance.
The frontal and superfrontal must be made up separately, with a stiffish linen as foundation or interlining, the fringe laid upon the material for the frontal, and strong loops of webbing being sewn at regular intervals along the top, from which it may hang. The superfrontal is joined to the covering of the altar, which is often made of cloth exactly matching in colour the velvet or silk of the ante-pendium.
In all colouring for altar-hangings, the distance at which the work will be viewed must be taken into account, and it must lie strong enough to be effective from all parts of the church without gaudiness. L. H.
It is very convenient, when using a number of "shades," to keep by you as many needles, or half as many, threaded. They are like a handful held with your palette; though they do not exactly save you from muddling your colours, certainly they save interruption of the steady progress of your work, which may be a secret of its evenness and, to some extent, harmony. Moreover, with your colours thus ready at hand, original combinations are often suggested which might not otherwise be thought of. These are all little points, but their practical value will soon be appreciated by those who have found embroidery silks difficult to manage.