Chinese Court Embroidery – Pt. 3 My Attempt

Because I am an overly ambitious woman, I decided some years ago (OK, around 20) to attempt to replicate a set of Dragon Robes, despite the fact that even in professional workshops, working with multiple embroiderers, full-time, a full set of robes often took 7 years of work to complete.

Did I mention overly ambitious?

I got part of one sleeve cuff completed before I gave up. There is already over 50 hours of work in just this area, not including the time to design the thing (yes, the entire robe is designed. It’s NOT going to be made in its current incarnation!) I was, for the only time in my life, actually keeping track of how much work I put in, because I was curious.

Click to see MUCH more detail
Click to see MUCH more detail

The gold is size #1 japan gold by Kreinik (I couldn’t afford the real stuff then, even less so now) Very fine. It’s about the thickness of flower thread, to give you a basis for size. The dragon is, from tip of tail to tip of that finished front claw, about  four and a half inches. The satin stitch and split stitch are done in two strands of Eterna filament silk, and the entire thing is stitched on unbacked navy-blue dupioni. If I were starting over, I’d back it with muslin before stitching. (I’ve learned a LOT about goldwork in the intervening 20 years!)

It is, if I do say so myself, a pretty piece of work. And I decided today while scanning it that I DO want to finish this cuff. I’ll frame it and give it to its original intended recipient at some point. Maybe. If I can find the time for the fiddly. I’ll keep you posted when I do it. 🙂

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