And To Keep ribbon

I’m working on a project that I want to enter into the Handweavers Guild Show. It’s going to be silk sewing thread (size A), 74 tablets, double-face and brocade.

It’s really difficult to manage the graphs for a ribbon like this – the intended final dimensions are something like 1.25″ wide, by 29″ long. To get a better idea of proper scale, open the big graph, and look at it somewhere that you can control the size a bit more.

On my screen, this one (above) is just a little smaller than the finished size.

The red lines are for registration, and won’t be part of the final design – I left them there for this version, though, because they help me look at the design correctly.

The quote is from a 1607 book by Nicholas Geffe, called “The Perfect Vse of Silk-Wormes, And Their Benefit” – PDF of that here.

These are images (cut from the PDF) of the passage:

I’ve opted for original spellings and long-s’s, although I’ve changed to a slightly different shape of font, because it’s one I had graphed up. I don’t think I could get the antique-type look of the book, without having the letters be substantially larger. The lettering turns at the end of the line and heads back… I just liked the graphic of that.

The section that I’m putting in the ribbon is:

“and to keepe them sweet you shal often sprinckle the floore with vineger, after to strew it with some herbes of a good smell, as with lauandar, spike, rosmarie, time, sauorie, pennie royall, and such like: adding some times, perfumes, made with frankencense, beniemin, storax, & other odoriferous drouges, which shall be burnt on coales”

I’m constantly amazed with these old books, how SPOILT the silkworms were! I keep expecting to find something about purple velvet cushions. I think most of the herbs are self-explanatory, although a couple you have to know: Beniemen is Gum Benjamin, also known as Gum Benzoin; spike is most likely Spikenard, although it may refer instead to Spike Lavender (also sometimes called Spikenard, just to make things confusing).

The ribbon will join at the center to a bone carved pendant of a moth/butterfly – like this:

I’m still working out exactly how the joint is going to be made, but it will most likely involve sewing a little jewelry finding on to the ribbon ends and using a jump ring to join to the pendant.

I’m still debating whether or not it needs a tassel.

Question for some of the more medievally-minded folks who may read this journal: do you find the lettering relatively legible? Some of the spacing was really tough – often, the Textura Quadrata letters become indistinguishable if they’re squished up against each other, but look too spread out of they’re spaced with more air. It’s hard to choose, and some times I used both options within the same word. I can read it, but it’s kind of like reading your own handwriting – I know what it’s SUPPOSED to say!

15 replies
  1. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:

    as you might or might not know, I’ve done a lot of study of G.T.Q, so I found that most of it was easy to read.

    But I think you *might* want to think about keeping both the long S And the original spellings. In combination with these and words we don’t know like Spike and Faouric it might just make it a little difficult. Personally I think you should address one of these three issues.
    I know what it is to *waaaant* these features in your work tho!

  2. eowyna
    eowyna says:

    I thought it was reasonably readable and once I realized that the second line was upside down, it was legible that way, too. You can’t expect it to be instantly readable to those unfamiliar with archaic spelling and letter forms. But it is readable to those who pause a moment. And those that do spend the time are rewarded. Keep it with the archaic spelling and letters, and reward the ones who are willing to sit with it a moment.

  3. sskipstress
    sskipstress says:

    I could read it quite easily if I squinted at it (to make it a little less pixelated to my eyes), though the words I’m not as familiar with (like sprinkle spelled with the long s and a c) took a little bit of effort to parse.

  4. admin
    admin says:

    See, the thing I’m counting on, is that *most* people are going to need it explained to them to start with…. even if it was all clearly spelled out in modern lettering, it doesn’t make sense to most non-medievalists without half a dozen footnotes. Most people wouldn’t know the difference between sauorie and favoric to begin with; either one would fit the bill as “exotic sounding herbal ingredient.”. It’s more meaningful to *me*, and seems more authentic and right, with the original spellings – I know that putting it into tablet-woven lettering makes it tougher to read right off, but I felt like putting it in a simplified script would suck a lot of the soul out of it.

    I’ll think about it – but honestly, it would be really hard on my vision of the project, to change it up.

    When I submitted my alphabet for “Please Weave a Message,” Linda re-graphed it for a more modern eye; it surprised me how much that kicked me in the metaphorical teeth. Fortunately, I was able to convince her that a good portion of the folks who would buy a book on tablet-weaving lettering, would be medievalists – who might well appreciate the archaic forms like the half-r’s and the ligatures, and so she put in *both* versions.

    If I had time to weave the whole thing twice (I don’t) it might be worth seeing how much it changes up the spirit of the thing… I really don’t know.

  5. admin
    admin says:

    I appreciate the input… one of the things I always struggle with, is “How much do I want this to be deliberately obscure?”

    One of my favorite pieces EVER is a cursed book mark…. it’s not only in the funky TQ text, but it’s in medieval church-Latin…. it was almost as satisfying to explain it. 🙂

  6. niamh_sage
    niamh_sage says:

    That’s going to be beautiful. It’s not easy to read, but isn’t that also a bit the point? Something that’s taken so much time to make should be savoured in the viewing, in my opinion (or should that be “sauoured”? 😛 ). If I was to come across something like this, I’d want to take my time looking at it and considering the effort that went into it, and reading it slowly to get the full understanding would be part of doing that.

  7. spinningredsilk
    spinningredsilk says:

    Stunning as always

    Dear Michael,

    One can NOT accuse you of being an under achiever. 😉

    Stunning piece that only you can do. The bone piece is stunning too.
    1. I can read it. The capital S on Strew was hard, but I got the rest of the piece. I could even read the second line upside down.

    2. Don’t lose the spirit by changing the script. The story is part of the art and soul. Art is not always meant to be totally understood at first glance as well you know. (feeding honey to bees)… 😉 I am sometimes at a loss for words, but the antique nature of the piece is part of the key to its statement…. does this make sense?

    I think you must have lived in victorian times… you have so much of that in your work. Tavelettes, moths, silk, raising critters, observing so much.


  8. spinningredsilk
    spinningredsilk says:

    p.s. Re: tassel, I love tassels, but the decision on whether or not to put one on the end would depend on how you are going to display it. If you are going to wear it, I would say no tassel. If you are not wearing it and will hang it or display it on a table etc… I would then consider the tassel, but I might want a similar wt thread tassel,,, don’t know if it would be thrums of the weaving, extension of the weaving behind, colors… but you will know by looking. It will be fun to figure it out. 🙂

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Worth the effort

    I found it challenging to read, but because I am unfamiliar with the spellings, long s’s, and the font rather than the spacing. And, hey, that made me more determined to read it, and if you were around I’d have asked you about it. I think is it just right. As I’m not a weaver I have no perception of how much work this will be (I’m guessing a lot), how long do you expect this to?


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