A Stumpwork Sampler

Object name


Date made


Place made


Sampler of stumpwork (raised work) showing a castle and figures using historical techniques in a 20th-century style.

Content description

A sampler of stumpwork (raised work) made by Barbara and Roy Hirst in 1990, using historical techniques in a 20th-century manner. The sampler, which involves silk, cotton, polyester, and metal threads (particularly passing and smooth purl) on canvas, is nearly square in shape and features in its middle a blue, purple, and pink stumpwork castle on a green grassy mound that is adorned with beads. To the viewer's left of the castle is a woman with golden hair in what appears to be a purple mirror. On the other side is a woman with white-blonde hair and a painted top. She sits in a round blue frame and looks toward the castle, her long hair falling outside of the frame. Above the castle is a bearded man, likely a king, wearing a gold and blue crown. He sits within a round gold frame. The faces of all three figures are made of stumpwork.

Between the figures and the castle are four circles with painted centres and colourful metal thread borders. The top two corners have three squares with different stitches and the bottom two corners have two squares and a narrow rectangle, all with different stitches and materials, including leather. In the bottom centre is a blue sleeve and a hand, both worked in silk threads over wire in single Brussels stitch, holding a piece of fruit with large leaves. The embroidery is accompanied by small bits of painting throughout.

On the back of the sampler is a handwritten guide to the stitches used in each part of the sampler, accompanied by a small drawing of the sampler. It reads:

'1. Corded buttonhole/mica window.
2. Gold purl.
3. Rococco [sic] stitch.
4. Burden stitch.
5. Silk-bound card.
6. Silk-bound wire.
7. Padded leather.
8. Point de Venise (padded)
9. Treble Brussels (padded)
10. Tent stitch on even weave (padded).
11. Buttonhole rings (couronnes).
12. Raised work castle corded buttonhole stitch, buttonhole bars, lace fragments (roofs) and mica windows,
13. Padded 'slips' in bullion knots, French knots, & pendant couching.
14. Cartouche with spiral cordonnette.
15, 16, and 17. Soft sculptured heads.
18. Silk-bound wire hand holding a sprig of wire edged needlepoint lace leaves and a fruit (in the round) overworked with buttonhole stitch.

"A Stumpwork Sampler"

Using the techniques and stitches of 17th century England'.


width: 25.5cm
height: 26.5cm





Credit line

Gift of Barbara and Roy Hirst.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 1584
© Royal School of Needlework