The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 7 – ‘Lead us not into temptation’ and ‘Thy will be done’ lines

This is how I dealt with the central area of the Lord’s Prayer panel. Three of the lines from the middle of the  panel needed visually separating, so that it was easier to read. The space was only narrow, and I considered various embroidered treatments, such as lines of couched beads, bead-and-sequin combinations, and so on. But in the end I decided to keep it simple.

I’ve had some lovely goldwork threads in my stash for years, always hanging on to them ready for that ‘special project’. Well, this was such a project. For the first separation line, I used a piece of pearl purl gold wire from Golden Hinde (a really good UK goldwork online supplier). I cut a piece of wire half the length of the line I wanted to cover, and then gently pulled the wire from both ends, stretching the coils so that they ended up being a wavy line of wire rather than a stiff coil that looked more like a line of gold beads. I trimmed the length to exactly the size I needed. Then I took a six-strand length of Anchor 1006 Red and wound it carefully into the ‘dips’ in the gold wire, making the wire now have a striped appearance. I left about six inches of thread at each end, to allow for attaching securely to the back of the fabric. I attached both ends quite tightly, and then used one strand of the 1006 Red to couch every third coil down, stitching at an angle so that the couching stitches didn’t show.

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For the next separation line I used a piece of milliary wire, which is a twisted wire with an added edge of little triangular trim, which is really pretty. I couched this down with Guterman thread, with the triangles facing downwards.

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I wanted the ‘Wela tahlan’ area to have a very  ‘light’ touch, as far as the decoration was concerned. This is the line that is usually translated ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’, but a translation from the Aramaic would be something along the lines of ‘Don’t let us enter forgetfulness; the temptation of false appearances’, or ‘Don’t let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds us back’. I wanted to give the impression, through the embroidery, that simple presence is what is needed to not ‘forget’ the sacred in everyday life. So, I decided to just put tiny decorative elements in the top corners of the box – lazy daisy stitches in Coats Ophir thread, with a single fly stitch underneath, with one bright red bead as a highlight, in each corner. That’s how simple it gets!

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“Nehwey sebyanach aykanna d’bwashmaya aph b’arha” is usually written in the English version as ‘Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven”. Interpretations from the Aramaic are:

Your one desire then acts with ours, as in all light, so in all forms.

Create in me a divine co-operation – from many selves, one voice, one action.

As we find your love in ours, let heaven and nature form a new creation.

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I used this Moorish border design for the inspiration for this part of the panel. I liked the regularity of it, and the way it seemed to suggest two distinct parts – the circles, and the leaves (the ‘heaven’ and the ‘earth’).

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I interpreted the border by stitching wound thread roses for the circles, and lazy daisy stitch flowers in shades of blue (they were meant to be leaves, but I like using blue more than green!). The stems are one strand of Anchor stranded 352 Chestnut brown worked in stem stitch, highlighted with a single line of Coats Ophir gold, couched down with Guterman thread. I was contemplating adding a busy French knot background to make the whole section look more blue, but decided when I got this far that it looked ‘finished’, so I just edged it with Kreinik #16 braid.

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The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 6 – Our Father which art in heaven

The top ‘header’ part of the Lord’s Prayer panel that I made contains the words ‘Abwoon d’bwashmaya’. In the ‘usual’ English version of the Lord’s Prayer, this is translated as ‘Our Father, which art in heaven’. There are many other ways of reading this, when translated directly from the Aramaic, as Aramaic is such a poetic language. Some versions are:

O Birther! Father-Mother of the cosmos!

O Thou from whom the breath of life flows and is present in all forms of vibration and light.

Radiant One: You shine within us, outside us – even darkness shines – when we remember.

O Thou! The Breathing Life of all, Creator of the Shimmering Sound that touches us.

I used an Islamic cartouche design as the basis for this part of the panel. I wanted it to have the *feel* of a detailed cartouche, but without having the centre part too busy – otherwise, the lettering wouldn’t be readable. I debated whether to apply red fabric ‘triangles’ (well, sort of triangles!) to the corners first, and then embroider on top of them, but I rejected that idea.

In Middle Eastern prayers, it is a tradition that the first word of the prayer encapsulates the whole of the rest of it, and this is the case with the Lord’s Prayer, when read in the Aramaic. Each letter, to Aramaic-speaking people, had a ‘character’ or meaning of its own, so the word ‘Abwoon’ was more like a whole sentence to them, expressing the whole prayer. As the word Abwoon was supposed to represent the prayer as a whole, I wanted to do the equivalent of this through my embroidered representation. So, I decided to take design elements from the rest of the panel, and incorporate them into the cartouche.

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I did this by taking the floral elements from the borders around some of the lines further down the panel, and using them to make flowery corners for the cartouche. I used Carolyn Pearce’s style of wound roses from the centre ‘ribbon’ design of the panel, ‘three-red-bead’ flowers from the border of the Nethqadash area, and the spacer bead flowers with blue lazy daisy edges from the ‘Ameyn’ area. I felt that this gave the feeling of representing the other parts of the prayer at the beginning, in the Middle eastern style.

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I stitched a long band of herringbone stitch with one strand of Anchor stranded cotton 1006 Red around the inner border of the cartouche, and then edged this with Coats Ophir thread (two strands) couched down with the Guterman thread.

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The very outer border was couched with Kreinik #16 braid.

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I was very pleased with how this part turned out – it made the whole panel look much more substantial, and using elements from other parts of the same panel started to pull the whole thing together.

So, this is the panel so far (well, just before I added the gold outlining, but it shows how the elements fit together):

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The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 5 – ‘Hallowed be Thy name’ and ‘Thy kingdom come’ lines

I really enjoyed designing and stitching these next three elements of the Lord’s Prayer panel.

The first line that I wanted to decorate was the line that is usually translated ‘Hallowed be Thy name’. Neil Douglas-Klotz’s translation from the Aramaic suggests that a more accurate translation would be something like ‘Focus your light within us – make it useful’. He says that whatever you focus on in your life becomes ‘holy’ for you – you have given it importance. So, I wanted to get that across somehow. I used this border design as my inspiration for the embroidered border around the words:

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The border design was simplified down to the clusters of three beads (a lovely scrunchy bright red seed bead that I’ve had in my stash for years).

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I outlined each cluster with lazy daisy stitches with one strand of Coats Ophir gold thread, then worked stem stitch in dark brown (one strand of Anchor), and highlighted that with a single couched line of Coats Ophir gold. The green stems and leaves were done in split back stitch with a single lazy daisy stitch for each leaf.

As I was designing the positioning of the letters for this area, I deliberately left a space off to one side (rather than centre the lettering, and therefore fill the space), as the idea for the ‘focus’. I added this ‘focus’ in the form of three large flat gold sequins, held in place with a royal blue silver-lined seed bead – the central sequin having more prominence. A few dark red and gold stitches drew the elements together. I finished this section by outlining the box with couched Kreinik #16 braid.

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The next box featured the line “Teytey malkuthakh”, which is usually translated “Thy kingdom come”, but another translation might be “Unite our ‘I can’ to Yours, so that we walk as kings and queens with every creature”.

For this section, I wanted to make a feature of the top of the box more than the lower part, so that there is a feeling of ‘moving up’, and improving – achieving something in life. So, I stitched on some gold bugle beads first, then added various French knots and seed beads. The bottom corners of the box just had three simple gold seed beads  – so, they have decoration, but are not as dominant as the upper corners, so that the viewer’s attention is drawn up.

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These little figure of eight motifs are placed towards the centre of the panel, and for a long time I wasn’t sure how to render these, although I liked the heart shaped centres.

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I decided that it was the fact that the motifs in the ‘World of Ornament’ book were coloured black that was putting me off. Hearts are red, right?! So, I appliqued tiny metallic red kid hearts onto the fabric, and things started to look much better.

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I couched a double line of Coats Ophir gold thread round the outside of the shapes, including the appliqued hearts, then added beads and blue thread in three shades.

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These linked the various areas and colours of the panel, so that it was starting to look much more ‘full’.

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The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 4 – Two medallions

The decorative elements that I chose to add to embellish the Lord’s Prayer panel that I made over the summer were taken from a fantastic book called ‘World of Ornament’ by A. Racinet and M. Dupont-Auberville.

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There are various versions available – including a cheap edition by Dover, which has selections from this great book. And it is ‘great’…. it’s the largest book I own. It’s hardback, and weighs about 10 kilos, has 528 pages, and measures 18 x 11 x 2 1/2 inches. It’s enormous! It has colour plates illustrating the decorative styles from every historical period you can think of, and what makes it so useful to me is that all the designs shown are copyright free, so it’s OK for me to use them in designs. The best part of having this particular edition is that inside the back cover of the book is a CD with all the designs on, as individual elements, making it very useful indeed!! But it wasn’t cheap. In fact, I’m not going to tell you how much it cost  🙂  I justified it by counting it as a business expense.

Anyway, the design elements I show here were taken from that book, and here’s the first one:

Abwoon19aI interpreted this medallion by keeping the idea of the central ‘flower’, but simplifying it a lot. And I wanted it to look more red than blue.

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I couched three rows of Kreinik #16 braid with Gutermann silk thread, adding highlights in Anchor 1006 red – couched lines, stem stitch outline and a few fly stitches.

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I worked the central area of the medallion to resemble a flower:

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The medallion on the right hand side of the sampler was a similar one, with a different central design, but up the other way.

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With this medallion, I used a green sequin in the centre, held down with lazy daisy stitches filled with a single straight stitch, surrounded by dark green fly stitches and three pink French knots.

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The long lines extending from each medallion were embellished with tiny gold seed beads. At the end of each line I had been planning to use shisha mirrors, but when I put them on the panel before attaching them, I realised that they looked far too ‘silver’ and just didn’t look right against the yellow fabric, especially as quite a bit of gold Kreinik had already been added by then as well. As the ‘goldness’ had already been set, silvery shisha mirrors just wouldn’t have worked. So I decided to stitch Rhodes stitch circles in red instead:

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I defined these first with split back stitch, then worked the actual Rhodes stitches using four strands of Anchor 1006 Red, to make them stand out.

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Tiny 2mm sequins filled the gaps in between, and single lazy daisy stitch / fly stitch combination finished off the line.

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