Monday, February 25, 2008

Celtic Knotwork - the Crosses

Sometimes inspiration for design comes from unexpected places, and involves things I had never really noticed before. In this case, shortly after I moved back to Austin about twelve years ago, St. David's Episcopal Church asked me to design and paint some canvases for them, and I was given the most wonderful books for research, including histories of the "encircled cross," and the mathematics of the knotwork itself. Being a rather mathematical person, I really really enjoyed this, and the knotwork is unbelievable in the "figuring out." One of my favorites of the Welch stone carvings was the Nevern cross, from which I did a few things for myself and for my neice's husband, who is of Welsh ancestry. This one is in very subdued colors (stitched, as I remember, with Trebizond silk), in regard for the original stone. Then, realizing that bright colors would work as well, I made some ornaments with other stone crosses in the same courtyard - perhaps St. David's Cathedral in Wales, but I'm not sure at this point. (I don't remember - might as well admit it.) First was another of the Nevern encircled cross. This one has since been finished with a few rows of white silk stitched around it, and a dark green cording - beautiful tree ornament. The "Cross of Ennlaun" wasn't finished, as I wasn't happy with the colors of the knotwork I chose. This knot is composed of two entertwined cords, and the colors should be distinct enough to show it - so I put it away twelve years ago. Maybe I can find the threads and finish it anyway!! The next one is labeled "Maen Archway," and I have no idea where that is - but I really like the red "rope" around it. This one I may re-draw and go ahead and stitch. Maybe. One thing of interest that I did not know until I really got into the research of these beautiful things, is that the Irish Celtic cross has a shaft, whereas the Welsh Cross is encircled, and generally on a base - as in the Nervern stone carving. I only painted and stitched two of these, and am very pleased with them - apparently, as I gave them away and have no idea who has them. Both of the crosses were finished by my friend Vikki Pinson, who is one of the finest in this field. She covered the backs with a coordinating color of silk moire, and added a little easel so that they can stand on a shelf or table for display.


NCPat said...

Very nice!

g said... and I might be the last painters that remember when Churches use to be big needlepoint buyers ...maybe between you in the south and me on the atlantic coast have filled all the churches...i get the occasional order now...but in the hayday of the mid 80's i was was swamped with church work !
very nice crosses...I am Episcopal and of Scot/ Irish ancestry ...i have had a celtic cross in silver, that my grandfather gave me when i was most precious possession..

Emi said...


dawny said...

love these crosses , it makes me want to have a go :o)

Granny Fran said...

Your Celtic crosses are wonderful! I wear a silver one around my neck all the time and love them but never thought of stitching one. There is a group of women in my new church that meet once a month to stitch white and gold Christian design ornaments [I think they call them Chrisms] for the Christmas tree. They do make a gorgeous tree at the front of the sanctuary.

Granny Fran said...

I forgot to ask, do you remember the name of the book you used to research the crosses? I'd love to see if I could find a copy to read.