Thursday, November 13, 2014

Miniature Stumpwork Casket

Just as the dark days of November draw in, and everything seems slightly grey and dull, I thought I'd surprise you and share my latest stumpwork project - a little box.


As you know, I am completely incapable of using wood, so I used a 'just a box' kit from McQueenie's miniatures, a fairly small and simple thing made from mahogany.  I started with the lid panel, and based my design on a motif that is often seen on 17th century caskets,  a lady with a lute.

As you can imagine, trying to capture the tiny stitches with my camera was nearly impossible, especially the detached leaves and flowers, so I hope you can see everything that went into it!  Her face was particularly difficult, but I managed to get at least an impression of facial features.  I had a lovely time doing her hair in twisted buttonhole bar stitch, it gives the hair a little movement, and really suggests ringlets.  I had tried curling thread over a very fine needle and setting with starch, but I really don't recommend this method on this scale, it was very messy and frustrating!

The front panel motif is a red squirrel with a lovely stripy tail, I am oarticularly fond of his excessively fluffy ears!  The fuschia flower on the left was inspired by a plant in my garden, which has been giving me so much delight in the grey of Autumn, as it is screamingly pink - I had to tone it down a bit here!  It is constructed of brussels stitch over the end of a very small stiletto, and three detached purple petals, so though t doesn't look like it in the photo, the flower is very 3D.

A tiny blue tit on a pear tree, also inspired by my garden.  The pear is a silk wrapped seed bead with tiny French knots at the bottom.  The grass is triple brussels stitch.

Sadly, I don't have a hare in my garden, but I do like this one, bounding about with his ears flapping in the wind - I couldn't bear to embroider a hound chasing him, as you usually see in 17th century embroideries!

The back panel has a Christmas rose, a stag and a quince tree, which make this panel feel quite Wintery, though the quinces have just been in season here.  It is a wonderful fruit, and I love making quince cheese in the Autumn.  This quince has been constructed in the same way as the pear, and the Christmas rose has leaves of detached picot.  The stag doesn't photograph well at all, which is frustrating, as it had very intricate work, but this is the best shot I coud get!

Sewing the panels was great, I really tried to use as many different stitches as I could without overwhelming the scale, as this is really easy to do.

Making up the box, however, was a horrible experience, as it was nervewracking cutting so close to the panels!  The buttonhole twist used to finish the edges was extremely difficult t o get straight, which is an absolute must in 12th scale, as otherwise any slight wiggle looks really clumsy.  I have learnt a lot though, so then next one I tackle shouldn't have so many problems.

I hope you have enjoyed it!



  1. This is incredible needlework, your attention to detail and the vibrant colours are a delight. I'm in awe of your work and very jealous of your talents.


  2. Jonquil, it's stunning! And what problems? It looks just perfect to me! I suppose you see every little thing as you work, but trust me it's a jewel of a little box and I'm just as jealous of your talent and skills as Jayne!

  3. Menudo trabajo!!!! Es precioso. Me gusta mucho , tanto los diseños como el colorido

  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous needle work!!!!!! It is just WONDERFUL. you are so talented. :-)

  5. Avevo già ammirato questo tipo di scatole nella tua pagina Pinterest personale. Non ne avevo mai viste, non fanno parte della mia tradizione culturale, per quanto dalle mie parti c'è ancora chi preserva la tradizione del ricamo e i suoi innumerevoli punti antichi. Sei stata molto brava a rendere in miniatura l'effetto policromo di queste scatole meravigliose.

  6. Oh my Heavens, Jonquil, This is the most exquisite and tiniest stitching I have ever seen!!! It is beyond beautiful!!! It is just Pure Perfection!!! This is a Treasure Chest that is better than any treasure you could put in it!!! I am in complete awe of your stitching! It is just beyond belief Beautiful!!!

  7. Very beautiful work Jonquil =0)

  8. Wow! This is terrific and just the sort of thing I hope to produce one dat.

    I think that, at this scale, using wood would have made the piece too cumbersome, so it was best to keep it simple.

  9. It's a lovely piece and a marvellous addition to your collection. You'll have to give it pride of place!

  10. What an exquisite and delicate work! You're such a talented needleworker.

  11. Oh I am a sucker for needlework applied to something practical, especially boxes. And this one is gorgeous! A lovely surprise for us to see. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to apply the panels onto the box, but it looks great. The scenes on the panels are so lovely, the one with the hare must be my favorite. Lovely work again Jonquil!
    By the way, that little tape measure holder is rather lovely too!

    1. I see I must find some synonyms for the word 'lovely', I am using it a lot! ;-)

  12. Your box is beautiful. I'm working on a full size one and that is small enough for me!

  13. Stunning and excellent work, Jonquil! I love quinces too, they smell delicious ;)!
    Amicalement, Ilona

  14. It's absolutely beautiful! I'm so glad you didn't include a hound chasing the poor hare! It's lovely to see him have a peaceful life :D

  15. Oh it is STUNNING!!! You have made such a Beautiful little box and the embroidery on it is Top Drawer! Every panel is precious and I know that you must be so proud of yourself. Truly, this is another heirloom, just like your mirror! :D


  16. Hello jonquil,
    What a treasure! It is absolutely fantastic and your needlework is amazing. The detail just blows my mind. You are a very gifted artist.
    Big hug,

  17. Impressive, you've captured the historic look and made a beautiful piece of art. I love it!

  18. Very impressive work. I have just completed my first 1:1 scale stumpwork piece and it nearly killed me, but to do this on 1:12 scale is incredible!! And it is beautifully executed. Congratulations!