Thursday, September 27, 2018

Celtic Harp

 In the spring Jenny Adin-Christie designed a small harp needlecase that was modeled on one that was the inspiration for a poem by William Wordsworth called "On Seeing a Needlecase in the form of a Harp'. I fell in love with it and then very foolishly didn't order it. I could not get it out of my mind so........

I thought that I would create my own version of it. How hard could it be, after all I have designed and stitched lots of small things.  Very hard actually... Designing from a photo and getting scale correct is almost impossible. The one thing that helped was knowing the approximate size of the needles. My harp is 1.34 times larger than the photographs that I could find of the harp. The size was dictated by the length of the longest Tulip needle that I could get. It is 90 mm long. The ones on the harp are from Tulip and so I went to their website and looked up all the different needle lengths and then ordered a bunch of them. I ended up using some Tulip needles, but others are from China and still others are from my stash. I was also able to take a peek at a kit so that clarified shapes somewhat.

Not wanting to reproduce the embroidery or the color, I decided on a piece of pale old gold Duponi silk and gold threads. The theme that I picked was for a Celtic harp. After looking at several zillion photos, I decided to use a dragon, tree of life and an interwoven band on harp with a curl at the top. The gold threads that I picked were #4 gilt smooth passing and Gilt 6-End Silk. They were a beautiful bright gold that matched the gold beads, pearl purl and spangles.

Here is the dragon with spangles and the design for the base.

The interlaced band for the back of the harp was fun to do. All the over and under makes a great design. The tree of life for the front turned out to be a bit trickier than expected. Stitching with the Gilt 6 - End Silk was hard. It did not want to pull through the fabric, then all the branches of the tree used short lengths of couched #4. If I had asked a student to stitch this they would have called me all sorts of unfriendly words. But... with the beads it looks great so it was worth it. How about a coil of gold on the curve of the harp and then  going all down the side? Oh slight problem! Construction with a loose length of gold purl catches threads as you stitch. The purl could not be stitched in place until the sound box was put together.
Oh yes, construction.... Do you use glue to put the bits of fabric on the board or just lace them down. After several cut and paste sessions with paper I thought that I was ready. I both glued and laced and then re-cut board and laced again but was lucky not to ruin any of my embroidery. I used a gold wrapped bead from my stash for the top. It was left over from a project long ago. The rod has flat gold silk around it with wrapped plate spiraling down the length. The rod turned out longer than I wanted in the end. The mock up looked fine but by the time I decided it was to too long it was too late to shorten it. If I change the bead at the top it might work better but I will have to see how I feel about it later. With all of the design and work, the harp faces the same as the original. But the hard work is done and it does look wonderful.

Back panel of the sound box of the harp.


  1. OMG How amazing is this? I am gobsmacked. I love smalls, but would never in a million years contemplate stitching something so intricate. Clever you.

  2. This is absolutely the most exquisite thing! (I wish you would teach it--I would sign up in a heartbeat!)

  3. This is absolutely beautiful. Jenny's version is lovely but I prefer your color choices.

  4. Jenny's is a reproduction so she had to use the colors of the original for hers.