Make your own Celtic design- 1963


I am in love with Celtic designs. I feel as related to them as if I had lived with them ages ago, and now a happy destiny has brought me to the very place they originated form. Who knows? -  Our good monks brought Christianity to Austria – that is where I come from – and with it there wonderful art! Our book of Kells is a treasure-house of designs. I bought a study-copy of it as soon as I first heard of it. For my own satisfaction I went straight away from the bookshop to the University library to compare it with the original. There are hundreds of designs to be found in it if you look out for them. All you need to do is to arm yourself with magnifying glass and systematically look through the pages. Besides other features the main characteristics of Celtic designs are the interwoven bad designs

Now: Every Single line pattern can be made into a band. To demonstrate it easily I take for instance two simple shapes. A heart and a leaf.

In No. 3 I have drawn a parallel line to each side of the original line thus making a band. In No. 4 I followed my band and let it run alternatively under and over each crossing. At the end of this article I will show this same method with one or two other designs. Out of this band-design you can now arrange the design of your cushion by either applying It into the corners or into the centre with another line connecting it perhaps like the design illustrated.

For needle work we can use band designs in two or three ways: One of which is embroidering our famous báinín cushions. Here I would like to give you a hint. Do not use mixed or shaded colours. If one puts oneself into the mind of a grandmother sitting over her embroidery – she will have dyed her wool with dyes made out of plants and she will probably have only a few original but very strong colours. Red, blue, yellow, green and purple are important. The bands are to be outlined in Black and afterword’s the colours- slantways fitting into each other- are filled in.

Another method of using band designs is in the making of Italian quilting. There is still scope for some white embroidery where the inner parts are cut out and held together by button-hole-stitched bars. I know this embroidery under the name of Richelieu-work. It is not practised very extensively in modern times.

If you want to be very much in the current style you can use Zoomorphics. The name tells you that here we deal with animals. We can hardly do without them our designs if you want to be very original. A stylized bird’s head, maybe with a crossed beak, big variously shaped eyes, cruel claws, tails- even split ones – nothing really matters as long as some harmony in the lines is retained.

One several occasions I have been asked to supply some Celtic designs for a little girls dancing costume or for the collar and cuffs of a man’s shirt. The designs were to be simple for embroidery. The succeeding designs will give you a basis on which to work. Variations of these patterns will afford you much pleasure in the coming winter. If my sort account of my love and enthusiasm for all things Celtic helps to fire the imagination of some other Irish enthusiasts, I – happily among you as an Austro-Irish woman will have done some little to repay the debt I own for Irelands friendship.

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