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12th century embroidery – Saint Michaels 12th century face finished – sneak peek.10

12th century embroidery – Saint Michael and the Dragon – sneak peek.8Yesterday I made again some good progress concerning my “12th century embroidery – Saint Michael and the Dragon“. 😀

It was really a hard struggle with the thread, the needle and the fabric but finally Saint Michael got his 12th century face. I am very happy and also very proud of how it turned out.

When you compare the original outlines at the picture at the top left with the embroidery underneath, you will see that the final embroidery looks really very different.

Though the final shape of his face might look odd to our modern eyes, it is based on a period example which I found on a 12th century wallhanging.

For quite some time now I was not happy with the original face of Saint Michael as it appears at the period woven tapestry which inspired me to this embroidery. Therefore I was very hesitating to start with it. Well, I definitely wanted to make a “period face”, but not this one…. 🙂

After some search I found a very interesting face on a 12th century wallhanging and decided that this will be my inspiration for Saint Michaels face. You can see the final result at the picture above.

…and again new detailed close-up pictures of my embroidery for my Advanced and Premium members. This time I have also some close up pictures of my period inspiration for you – enjoy! 😀

“Saint Michaels face”

Let’s start with a close up picture with the first embroidered outlines of the head in Stem Stitch as well as my first progress of the embroidery for the hair.

While looking at the pictures underneath please keep in mind that on the pictures the head can appear bigger than it actually is. The head including the neck is about 3.5 cm / 1.38 inch high (measured from the first black outline of the neck at the bottom to the top point of the hair).


At the picture above you can very good see how much bigger I made the chin of the face in relation to the drawn outlines. Enlarging the chin I also had to put the neck deeper than intended at the original outlines. Furthermore you can also see that I decided to give him much more hair and to work it in nice decorative lines, like I found them done in my period inspiration.


Well, the color decision was really not easy. I just knew that I didn’t want to make the outlines in purple or in one of the other colors I already used till now for the embroidery. And the other possible colors I had in my thread basket besides the black thread didn’t seem like good decisions to me either.

Therefore, after a short struggle with myself, I decided to use black. Even after I finished the red/black hair I was not really sure if this was the right decision. Though I had the feeling that it would be a good color for the head, my own head told me not to use it because I haven’t used black in this embroidery yet…


…and well, the more I embroidery I added, the more it eased my mind concerning the color choice. Now I think it was a really good choice and I will try to work in the black at several places to level out the overall color experience of the embroidery.

Now to the inspiration for the face and head:

Saint Michaels face & head

As I already mentioned at the beginning of the posting – though I very much liked the overall design of Saint Michael and the dragon, I really didn’t like the face of Saint Michael at the period tapestry which inspired me concerning the design of this embroidery.

Wallhanging fragment – Germany/ Niedersachsen about 1160/70

Therefore I decided to replace his face with another period face and started looking around for a new inspiration. …and I was very lucky – soon after I started looking for a new face, I run into a face which I really liked. Yes, this is one of the great advantages of my hoarding addiction concerning photos of period embroidery… 😉

I guess you remember my posting about the inspiration for this project – “12th century embroidery – Saint Michael and the Dragon. And you maybe also remember the lovely embroidery on display at the Bode museum in Berlin about which I wrote in this posting. The embroidered wallhanging which inspired me to try this “new” period embroidery technique – Split Stitch.

michael-and-the-dragon_26Well, besides many other details this lovely wallhanging also shows many nicely embroidered 12th century faces…

When I saw the scene at the picture underneath, I suddenly knew – the second face from the left is the perfect face/head for my Saint Michael! It is so lovely, isn’t it… I think this moment when I saw this face can be called “love on first sight moment” *lol* 😉


I hope you can you see the similarities and the inspiration in relation to my embroidery. It was really a hard struggle to work out the details of the face as you can see them now.

Short side note:
Unfortunately the thread and the fabric I used for this embroidery don’t work smoothly together. Such a combination doesn’t allow very small stitches and a lot of detail. Though I can’t change the thread or the fabric at this point without disturbing the whole appearance of the embroidery, I think that this “mistake” helps me learn more about this technique for the future. At least I will try my best to avoid the same combination in the future. Therefore, though I am not completely satisfied, I am still rather pleased with the final look.

Before I started filling the the face with white thread I took a look at the close up pictures I took of the wallhanging. This is one of my best close up photos of one of the faces I could take at the museum by using my macro lens:


The picture above, as well as the other pictures of the faces I took at the museum, was the reason why I finally “opened” up the sides of the eyes agin by stitching over the the black outlines.

Furthermore you can also see how the period embroiderer filled up this face. I find it always very interesting to see how period embroiderers filled up their sections when it comes to surface filling techniques like this. This “technique point” is rather important because sometimes the filling direction can be also a significant part and information of a technique. Like for example – wallhangings embroidered in the Klosterstich / cloister stitch technique in the 14th century were worked mainly vertically. 🙂

…and last but not least my favorite close up picture of the striped hair from the above mentioned 12th century wallhanging. You can find several heads with hair like this at the wallhanging. I think this is a really nice effect you might see again in my future Split Stitch embroidery projects. 🙂


I hope you enjoyed todays journey and like my 12th century inspired face. I think I have more embroidery for you tomorrow – watch out for my next posting… 😉

Best regards Racaire

PS.: If you would like to read more about the period 12th century inspiration for the design, embroidery technique,… then please read my first posting about this project:
12th century embroidery – Saint Michael and the Dragon