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The Bayeux Tapestry Embroiderers' Story


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Previously published as The Bayeux Tapestry Embroiderers' Story, ISBN 0951634852

About the Author

Jan Messent qualified as a teacher in the mid-50s and, after teaching Art, History and English, became deeply involved with embroidery as an art form. As a member of the Embroiderers' Guild, she taught embroidery design to its members, wrote and illustrated design books, and lectured worldwide. Her last embroidery book was about the Bayeux Tapestry. She became interested in the experimental use of knitting and crochet and hoped, by her books on the subject, to open up new dimensions in the creative use of yarn. Now, having retired from lecturing, Jan writes historical fiction full-time, embroidering as a side-line, reading, painting, and listening to good music.


When Madeira Threads commissioned Jan to make the 'Bayeux Tapestry Finale', a reconstruction of the missing last 8 feet of the Bayeux Tapestry, her explorations into how the tapestry was likely to have been stitched provided the basis for this meticulously researched book. Looking at the Bayeux Tapestry from a designer's and embroiderer's viewpoint, the text that accompanies the beautiful illustrations was hand-written by Jan - although it looks so perfect that it's difficult to believe it wasn't computer generated. First published in 1999, it's great to see this book back in print.-Stitch Everybody has heard of the Bayeux Tapestry, but how was such a vast project actually tackled, who made it, what do all the pictures mean and what sort of stitches were used in its making? All these questions and more get answered in this beautiful and unusual book. This is one book that can grace your coffee table and is sure to interest even those guests who aren't interested in embroidery (ie men). There is as much about what the tapestry (which is a misnomer) depicts as how it was made. Every page in this landscape shaped book is laid out in the Bayeux Tapestry style and tinted elegantly with colored pencils. At first glance trying to read the mediaeval style print will have you booking in for an appointment at the opticians but turning to the back will give you a transcript of what it says in ordinary type on white paper. The print looks attractive but after flipping backwards and forwards trying to match the transcript to the page I found myself wishing that a more legible font had been chosen to start with. This gripe aside this is one of the most attractive books I have seen for a long time, and very informative too. There are sections on the people portrayed in the tapestry, who designed it and why, who made it and what they used and how they used it and more. There is even a blow-by-blow depiction of each panel and what it all means which is helpful, and after reading it all I felt that I knew a lot more about the tapestry and the context in which it was made. Hard-to-read print aside, this one is a It's 1066 and all that, in magical stitchery, from a celebrated needlewoman who has a passion for delving into the history of British needlework. Who were the embroiderers of the Bayeux Tapestry? What were their tools, their materials, and how could such a massive project have been designed and organised? These questions and many others have been avoided for so long due to a lack of hard facts, but here the author has drawn upon her own experience as an embroiderer and artist to piece together all the clues she could find in the tapestry. It's a fascinating and colourful account, too, of the most momentous event in Sussex history. Appropriately for such an art treasure, the beautifully designed book is, itself, something of an art treasure, with 100 superb illustrations.-Sussex Book Club Those who are interested in Medieval Embroidery will enjoy this book. A very interesting aspect is that Jan Messent was commissioned by Madeira Threads to reconstruct the missing 8 feet of the Bayeux Tapestry. Her exhaustive research resulted in the Bayeux Tapestry Finale. Virtually every page has beautiful illustrations, accompanied by Jan's lovely handwritten text. This gives details of the materials, dyes, stitches and threads used. Together this brings the subject much more alive and interesting and informative. It is good to see this book, first published in 1999, back in print. Good reading.-West Country Embroiderers

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