Bridging Arts

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Reflections on tent stitching technique from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

It is sunny in Cornwall! though freezing. Take advantage of the Bank Holiday to continue with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's letters. Started because we quoted her in  the background to one of our latest embroidery packs. She was bowled over by the embroidery she saw at the Sultan's harem in Topkapi Palace, Istanbul (dutifully accompanying her husband, Edward Montagu, when he was ambassador there in 1717) - she saw jewels as large as hen's eggs and a silver basket filled with embroidered handkerchiefs, one of which was presented to her.  Back in London, semi estranged from Edward, she leads a seriously racy life cavorting with the leading literary figures of the day and reporting on extraordinary love affairs and intrigues to her sister, Countess of Mar in far flung Paris. Describing her daily routine, she turns to her tent stitching technique to explain...
"I ride a good deal, and have got a horse superior to any two-legged animal, he being without a  fault. I work like an angel. I receive visits upon idle days, and I shade my life as I do my tent-stitch, that is, make as easy transitions as I can from business to pleasure; the one would be too flaring and gaudy without some dark shades of  t'other; and if I worked altogether in the grave colours, you know 'twould be quite dismal."
Letter to Countess of Mar, 1725.