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Stumpwork Figures
with Sally Ziesler
on 02 May 2017

We were very grateful to Sally Ziesler for stepping in at short notice to introduce her type of stumpwork to us, and to work with Jane Bayes and run the workshop the following day.

She explained that stumpwork was 3D work that was raised and embossed. In England, it has a short history during the seventeenth century, from 1645 to 1680, after which it started dying out. By 1688, it was not done anymore, and Sally believes that this was because it was largely decorative and had no practical use. Many examples are found in stately homes, such as hangings, decorative coverings for boxes, and frames around small mirrors which were expensive items then. Stumpwork was used as decoration on gloves, which were carried to enhance fashionable outfits. Its other main use was as decoration for ecclesiastical vestments. On the continent, decorating ecclesiastical vestments continued but the Commonwealth under Cromwell did not allow for any fancy vestments in the church.

Patterns were used of Old Testament stories, kings and queens and myths and legends. Very small slips were embroidered, made of canvas work at a very high density of stitching – up to 1042 stitches per square inch. The pieces were attached to the background and stuffed with sheep’s wool, leather or even parchment! Birds’ wings and leaves were shaped using wire and then the space inside infilled with stitching. Faces were sometimes made of painted leather

Sally described her techniques for constructing her pieces, of which there was a beautiful display.


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