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Embroidered picture of a lapwing, stitched by Elizabeth Stephen in 1951-1952 while a student at the Royal School of Needlework’s three year Diploma Training School Programme.

Content description

This embroidery features a lapwing standing on top of a mound of rocks above a pool of water, surrounded by lush foliage. The bird, which is side-on, is depicted using silk shading, a technique where long and short stitches are used to completely cover a shape. Its legs are bright red and it has blue wings with a teal centre. The surrounding water, stones, and foliage are all rendered in variations of shaded laid work; the rocks are shaded in horizontal brown and green laid threads. These are interspersed with a vertical threads in a contrasting pale colour which are secured with a small couching stitch. Two plants feature on either side of the bird and are worked in brown, cream, and green threads. Near the bird's beak is harts tongue fern and near the bird's tail is wild arum. Chain stitches have been used to anchor the laid work and also to form their veins. Trellis stitch has been used to depict the red stamens of the flower heads. The leaves are bordered by thick stem stitches and have a central red vein wrought in tiny split stitches. The lapwing's legs feature the same narrow split stitch. Behind the lapwing are smaller blue leafed plants, their leaves made of laid work with couched vertical threads over the top.

The piece, worked on pale blue linen which has been mounted on board, was stitched by Elizabeth Stephen (later Mrs Denholm) between 1951-1952 as part of her studies on the Royal School of Needlework’s three year Diploma Training School Programme. During the 1930s through 1950s, laid work was one of a number of techniques which students learned at the school, with a view to them being able to teach in schools or technical colleges. This was a themed project, with students having to create a bird or animal in silk shading with surrounding laid work foliage. The Training School Diploma ran until 1961.


width: 51cm
height: 40cm





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Other numbers

RSN 1750
© Royal School of Needlework