Thursday, June 01, 2023

Vestment Work for Pentecost, Processions and the Month of May, from Watts & Co.

We are glad to share another guest post from Mr Robert Hoare, managing director of Watts & Co., London-based makers of ecclesiastical vestments and furnishings, about work which his firm has done for Pentecost, and the Marian month of Mary. We recently one about vestments which Watts contributed to the recent coronation of King Charles III.


The fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is of course aptly reflected in the red liturgical colours. This Pentecost cope uses a bold combination of Watts’ red Pentecost brocade and Brocatelle Garnet Crevelli, lending a subtle glitter to the garment. The orphreys are outlined in black and gold diamond and lay braid, with a black and gold fringe on the hood.

Another recent commission is this Roman chasuble in Watts’ Sarum red and gold Gothic silk damasks, with bright gold braid. The depth of the hues and the combination of golds with the deep Sarum red is a beautiful and festive rendition in colour of the fiery tongues of Pentecost.
Month of Mary
Pentecost is celebrated on May 28 this year, but the whole month of May is dedicated to Mary, and Watts is pleased and honoured to create beautiful hand-embroidered designs for clients wishing to honour Her. Watts can work from a client’s brief, drawing, or create a new design by request.
This detail is from a processional banner for a church in the USA. The simple Maria Regina motif in cloth of gold, edged with Japanese gold thread, is appliquéd onto our blue Comper van der Weyden, designed by Sir Ninian Comper at the end of the 19th century.
Processional banners go well with the month of May when many parishes throughout the world will holding their own Marian processions. Watts is delighted to design and create banners for clients, as the one above (detail).
The York Processional Banners
The York Banners have achieved near legendary status in the history of our company. Commissioned by York Minster in the late 1990s, these processional banners took around three years to make. Jackie Rose and Dylis (Simpson) Jones spent thousands of hours lovingly translating into stitch the vision of Watts’s creative director, Mr David Gazeley. Using a wealth of hand embroidery techniques on appliquéd fabrics, the three banners depict the Garden of Eden, the Sacramental Life of the Church, and the Crucifixion.
York Banner - the Sacramental Life of the Church
The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove radiates his light and grace down to humanity, clothed in the white robes of baptism and receiving these gifts with open hands in an attitude of praise. Their serene gaze is directed outwards, inviting all people to partake in the sacramental life of the Church, symbolised by the wheat and grapes. The waters of baptism, bubbling up and swirling at the base of the banner (where once the gnarled roots of the tree of crucifixion stood out), feed and nourish the vine. 
This piece is worked in a rich variety of stitch techniques, including hundreds of tiny French knots which create the illusion of movement and light sparking on the waters, along with the swirling Japanese gold thread, couched on appliquéd turquoise silk. The backdrop of this whole scene, as well as the two other banners in the collection, is physically and symbolically determined by the presence of the large cross in appliquéd Cloth of Gold.
Not only are the front of the banners resplendent, the mostly unseen backs of the banners are also astonishing in their detail: each one is lined in a blue taffeta silk, criss-crossed with appliquéd Gothic trellis embroidery, from which tiny hand-stitched creatures peek out, safely framed in Japanese gold thread.

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