Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Hours #1

For my Degree Show final piece I am looking at The Hours, in other words how many hours of skill and devotion invested in completing a piece of work particularly those which have been created using a needle.  My own experiences are confined to those projects that are started which seem like a good idea at the time but then prove to be a lot more difficult than anticipated or just take up a lot of hours. I suspect my Degree Show piece will prove to be just such one of those pieces.

For my first piece of research and because yesterday was exactly 60 years since Princess Elizabeth became Queen after her father George VI passed away (although she wasn't officially crowned till June 1953 as it took 18 months to arrange the coronation) I was curious to find out the details surrounding the Coronation Robe including how many hours it took to make it.

Designed by the royal couturier Norman Hartnell the dress was embroidered in gold and silver thread encrusted with seed pearls and crystals to create a glittering lattice work effect.  The design included the floral emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth and was made by a team of 3 dressmakers and 6 embroideresses and took approx 9,000 hours to make. 

The Robe of Estate was worn by The Queen when processing from Westminster Abbey after the Coronation. It is of English purple silk-velvet, woven in 22-metre pieces, and measures over 6½ metres in length from the shoulder to the tip of the train. The embroidered cipher of The Queen and border of wheat ears and olive branches, symbolising peace and plenty, took a total of 3,500 hours to complete by a team of twelve seamstresses working in shifts.

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