PhD researcher Toni Buckby recently put out a call for 40 experienced embroiderers to help her with a blackwork research project.
The embroiderers were to stitch a blackwork coif, a head covering worn by men, women and children from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, following the outline design but making it their own.
Each artwork will become part of an exhibition in December and then be donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Understandably, Buckby was inundated with stitchers offering to help and had to expand the project from 40 stitchers to 140 stitchers. Many of those chosen are Embroiderers’ Guild members, and while the original coif that the design has been taken from was missing stitching and could not be attributed to anyone, that’s not the case with the project.
Each coif will be displayed alongside the name and thoughts of each stitcher.
The Embroiderers’ Guild is making available the blackwork coif design if anyone wants to stitch it for personal interest. We would love to see the results of your stitching, however, so do share them with us.
The fascinating tale of how Toni Buckby fell for blackwork and started delving around in the furthest recesses of the V&A Archive is in the July/August issue of Embroidery magazine, out now.