I’ve been working on tambour embroidery every day for over a month now. I am satisfied that I can now tackle the reticule reproduction. Initially I would turn the frame to do a shape…now I don’t. I was using a needle to plunge thread and help me turn…now I use the tambour needle. I have better and more consistent tension than before…to begin with I was pulling too tight. My stitches are more uniform as well. I’m pleased that the work I’ve put into learning is paying off.
I’ll be starting on the real thing in a month. The fabric is ordered and I’m picking it up today. Now to figure out which pattern transfer method to do. I’m leaning towards prick and pounce because that is historically accurate and because I don’t like using pencil on this type of project. I find the lead gets on the threads. I only know how to do prick and pounce in theory…we’ll see what happens.
I noticed something rather funny this morning. I normally have about 30 minutes to sit down in the morning before leaving for work. I spend the time stitching, knitting or crocheting. This morning I was practising tambour. My cat, Abbie, is 15 years old and as a kitten she was very interested in my embroidery. She would often lie down on my knees and press her paws against the back of the linen and I would see her nails poking through. As the years went on she has settled with sleeping/sitting next to me and not shown a big interest in my embroidery.
This morning as I was putting in some stitches with my tambour hook I notice that Abbie is sitting next to me paying very close attention. I am able to move faster with the stitches now…still a snails pace I’m sure, but fast enough to catch the cat’s eyes. The thread in my left hand, under the frame moves around a lot and she was sitting up with her head tilted to see under the frame.
I’ve seen tambour embroidery around…mainly on Needle ‘N Thread. Thought it would be interesting to learn “someday” but had no real incentive to purchase the tambour hook. Well that has changed. My guild, Town Clock Stitchers, is doing a program this year which definitely encouraged me to learn. Our monthly meetings are held in the Nova Scotia Natural History Museum project room downstairs. One of our members is the assistant curator for their History Collection. The History Collection isn’t on permanent display at the museum so it was a real treat when we arranged through our member to see a few items she pre-selected for us. Among these items was a reticule circa 1790-1810. The reticule has 4 panels and on each panel is a local flower done in Tambour embroidery. Very beautiful.
Our guild executive committee wanted to do something more engaging for our members. We are offering a Bargello project and a surface embroidery project. The surface embroidery project is a reproduction of the reticule. I’ll be doing the reticule.
For embroidery that is over 200 years old we actually know a lot of information about the person that stitched it. The embroiderer was named Mary Boggs Tremaine. She was from a Loyalist family (Boggs) in New Jersey that moved to Nova Scotia. There will be 10 people working on creating reticules based on Mary’s original. We will all be using a pattern I’ve developed by importing the images and tracing the outlines of the vine border and the floral motifs digitally. Of that group of 10 people 8 are learning Tambour.
Trout Lily (or Dog Tooth Lily) Panel – Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)
Rose Panel – Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)
Lily Panel – Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection of NS Natural History Museum)
Forget-me-knot Panel – Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)