Laid Work Embroidery Panel
Panel of laid work embroidery with a design of peacocks and an urn of flowers, worked by Rachel Kay Shuttleworth in 1921.
This framed panel of embroidery is worked in a technique known as laid work where long stitches are laid down first to fill in the shapes and then secured with smaller couching stitches over the top. It was worked by Gawthorpe Textiles Collection’s founder, Rachel Kay Shuttleworth, as a present for her parents Ughtred and Blanche on their golden wedding anniversary in 1921. In keeping with the ‘golden’ theme, Rachel chose a luxurious cloth of gold fabric, woven with real metal threads, for the background fabric and had it framed in an ornate gilt frame specially made by the Medici Society.
The design of a vase, exotic flowers and a pair of peacocks was sketched out by Rachel’s cousin Valerie, Lady North and is taken from one of the carved & pierced parapets high up in the galleries of St Marks Cathedral, Venice. Rachel worked on this piece while she was recovering from typhoid fever and it is said that one of the reasons that she chose the laid work technique as it allows large areas to be covered relatively quickly. The embroidery uses many colours of silk floss thread that Rachel arranged carefully to create beautifully blended gradients. In her notes about the piece, written many years later, she stated that “when [I embroidered] this, the range of Pearsall Stout Floss silks was wide & numbered some 400 shades – now in 1965 – there are only some 40 – so this cannot be reproduced”. The embroidery is further embellished with gold metal threads and iridescent beetle wings used on the peacocks’ tails.