Do forgive the silly title. This post isn’t really about crewel embroidery, but I couldn’t resist that delicious Middle English pun. (Please don’t tell me that it isn’t all that delicious: I prefer to think that it is.)
What with A Certain Important Event fast approaching, I wanted to make a white boar livery badge of my very own design. I drew my boar, and transferred it onto fabric with my hi-tech embroidery equipment (that is, an old glass frame, some adhesive tape, and a pencil). I picked out some nice old materials from my stash, including beige linen thread and absolutely lovely off-white vintage German yarn. I don’t believe in using fancy-schmancy embroidery floss for embroidery: I stubbornly use whatever random threads and yarns I find at flea markets, and this doesn’t always give the best of results, as you will see.
I was actually quite proud of that design until my mother dampened my spirits by pointing out that the boar looks like our dog Tara. Tara looks slightly offended at the comparison, but I do see the point. For some reason, all animals I draw end up looking like dogs. Funny, that.
The plan was simple. I would make the outlines with split stitch (mostly with the main cream-coloured thread, and partly with the beige thread, to accentuate certain parts) and fill out most of the body with long-and-short stitch, with the occasional satin stitch for emphasis. The direction of the individual hairs was to be as follows:
As I was stitching away, it didn’t take me long to realise that the colours I’d chosen resulted in a blurry mess, but by that time it was too late to turn back: my ferocious white boar was becoming something vaguely resembling a fat cream-coloured poodle, or a sheep with some anger management issues.
Distracted by this thought, I pricked my finger with the needle and bled all over the boar’s snout and tusks. (You may see a light remnant of a bloodstain on the canvas, if you look closely enough. . . ) I didn’t feel like starting all over again, so I tried to disguise the blood with further layers of thread, and that was a big mistake, as you can see in the image below. Far too much bulk on the face. Not to mention an eye that seems to be bulging out of its socket. And a bulging red tongue that makes the poor boar look like it’s suffering from a major allergic reaction.
Yeah. . . no. Just no. The only thing I’m satisfied with is the texture of the fur (apart from the bristles on the back: not sure what I was trying to do with those, but whatever it was, it didn’t succeed). Practically nothing else turned out the way I’d planned. Oh, well! Better luck next time, I suppose.
However, the clumsiness does make it look more Mediaeval, somehow; perhaps there is a silver lining to be found here, once the initial disappointment wears off. I haven’t bothered to turn this into a proper badge yet, but eventually I might. The original plan was to cut the boar out of the fabric and back it with felt, but I never did decide how I’d finish the edges. (Suggestions welcome. Yes, I know I should have thought of this before I even got started . . .)
I still think the original design wasn’t half bad. A more skilled embroiderer might be able to make something out of it; and anyone might achieve better results than mine if they:
(a) used finer floss, and a better colour scheme with more contrast; and
(b) refrained from bleeding all over the place.
I suppose it is strangely appropriate, though, that blood was spilt in the making of a Ricardian badge.