24 November 2005

Superman and Intarsia

No sewing last night. We decided to drive over town and see what was happening on the Superman movie set. We didn't get there until about 10pm, and we missed the big explosion of the police car and the gun fight. We had a chat to one of the security guards and she said we just missed a streaker! We went around to the other side of the set, you could see lots of activity but they didn't seem to be filming, just doing set up. So we bailed and went to Maccas for a sundae. It was all second unit stuff, but still interesting.

Racaire has asked about intarsia as a needlework technique. In the context of embroidery (as opposed to knitting or woodwork), intarsia is a type of applique technique. Basically, you cut out the same shape from two or more colours of fabric. You then swap the shape from one colour and place it in the void in another shape. You can see this best in this 14th Century Swedish example where the blue flower is placed in the orange background and the orange flower in the blue background.

Once you have placed the pieces and they have been tacked in place, the usual treatment is then to couch some sort of cord over the seam to help protect it. In Scandinavian work, it was often gilt-leather cord that was used in the couching process, such as in this 14th/15th Century example, also from Sweden or this large hanging from the same period.

The technique was also used in other areas, with a 13th Century Seal Pouch from England (the shield area is intarsia) and also a 14th C German hanging of the Trisan and Isolde story.

Most examples of this technique are worked in wool, presumably because a fulled or felted wool would not fray and could thus survive without damage the cutting and fitting necessary.