This post is slightly off topic for an embroidery blog, but I found it interesting so y’all will be learning about tapestries today. My mother did an internship many years ago (full-time, for a total of a year and a half) with the National Tapestry Works in Paris, France (Manufacture des Gobelins) to learn traditional weaving techniques. This post will cover exercises assigned to students.
This tapestry is the first exercise given to students at the school. It’s like a sampler for new embroidery students. The difficulty increases from bottom to top. The first row is learning to weave straight lines and diagonals; the middle row introduces curves. The top row practices shading techniques. Perhaps some of it could be adapted to long-and-short stitch work for needlepainting.
Here is an exercise in shading draperies according to the old-school method. The highlights are done in silk – the rest in wool. Crewel embroidery in wool sometimes uses silk highlights, too.
In comparison, the following exercise in more modern shading methods for tapestries relies more on dots and dashes than in long lines for shading.
The tapestry below is based off of a work by Matisse. Students were assigned projects to address their weakest areas. This project required meticulous and detailed work, since any deviation from the curves is instantly visible. Other students (whose work was very careful) were assigned projects that required a far more freestyle approach.
Fascinating seeing the different ‘learning’ patterns.
Wow! This is definitely a skill that would take a very long time to master. Take a look at the Stirling Tapestries in Scotland at http://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk/largetext/home/experience/highlights/tapestries.htm, they are fantastic.
I’ve visited the Musee des Gobelins, but unfortunately they don’t show apprentice work, so you don’t get to see how the students learn. Thank you for showing this selection. It’s wonderful, and filled in a gap in my knowledge!
Those are very interesting exercises. I am leaning toward doing another tapestry – sooner rather than later. Just have to get set up and then maybe I’ll work on some of those exercises you have shown.
Let me know how it goes if you do! That sounds really interesting.