12th century belt for my 12th century wedding dress – pearl embroidery .1

2015-12 - Racaire - 12th century belt - pearl embroidery

And today let’s talk about one of my other favorite topics besides Klosterstich and surface couching – pearl embroidery! 😀

Well, pearls per se were and still are something very special. Their availability is quite limited and their price is rather high due to the natural production process.

Besides the beautiful appearance and shine pearls possess naturally, their rather restricted availability as well as their quite high monetary value might have added to their great appeal in the medieval age. I think that the usage of pearls for jewelry or pearl embroidery used to reflected the wealth of the person who could actually afford to use them in either high quality (large, round and with a perfect surface appearance) and/or in a very high quantity.

And when we nowadays take a look at exquisit extant clothing from the 12th century, which was in the most cases made for people of high clerical or royal rank, there are two things most garments have in common which represent nobility and splendor at its highest level – beautiful pearl embroidery and fine gold work!

I still find it really astonishing how the usage of some rather simple pearls or some gold thread can elevate a garment to the next level but both materials definitely have the ability to do so. And living in the modern times we can call ourselves very lucky as the price and availability of pearls and (imitated) gold thread improved a lot in comparison to the medieval times thanks to improved modern production processes.

This makes pearls and (imitated) gold thread not only affordable for most of us but also provides us with a wide range of pearl sizes, pearl colors and a large variety of (faux, washable and not tarnishing) metal threads.

Furthermore nowadays artificial (faux) pearls are also available in large quantities and for a very good price. Many of this artificial (faux) pearls, if they are made well, can be easily mistaken for real pearls. Therefore this artificial (faux) pearls are more than welcome as they are very acceptable for the usage in our medieval inspired projects, whenever we need a large number of affordable “pearls” for a project.

But enough about my thoughts concerning one of my favorite topics and back again to my 12th century belt project. With the lovely hand made metal bezants, which my dear friend and sister Mistress Ezabella gave me, I was already able to add a certain metal shine to my belt. The metal bezants contribute a lovely metal sparkle and work as real eye-catchers on my already very lovely yellow silk which makes a further addition of gold work unnecessary.

To turn my 12th century belt into a really outstanding piece, I felt like I still had to invest some more work and effort. In order to achieve this goal, I decided to add even more “bling” by adding some pearl embroidery. Therefore I decided to draw inspiration from one of my favorite 12th century extant pieces where pearl embroidery was already used to serve as a perfect looking framing for the already very great looking metal embellishments.

Well, needless to say that my husband thought that I am quite crazy and really overdoing it when I told him about my next planned step. But I did it anyway! And damn, I am very glad that I didn’t listen to my husband in this case and decided to follow my intuition and gut feeling as I am absolutely excited about the outcome so far! 😀

And now let’s take a look at how I do my pearl embroidery! I took several step-by-step pictures of my work process for you – enjoy! 😀

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I hope you enjoyed todays very detailed and long posting about the very first pearl embroidery for my 12th century belt project. And in my next posting I will show you even more pearl embroidery as well as a sneak peek picture of the belt… 🙂

Best regards Racaire

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