Colourful strands

This scallop-shaped piece may originally have been used as a small place mat. It seems that it was carefully cut to shape after completing the embroidery.

The colourful interlace design is made up of two interlaced strands. Both are outlined in blanket stitch and then infilled with feather stitch. The pale green in one of the ribbons provides a subtle contrast to the other strand.

Interlace designs in wood

These three closely connected sections of wood each have different knotwork designs engraved into them. They give the appearance of being more complex as the eye moves down. The textured effect is created by punching dots into the spaces between the strands.

The panel was displayed by Claire Bain, George’s daughter, in her home. But it isn’t known who created it. Intriguingly, the knotwork designs have not been taken directly from Celtic Art, Methods of Construction. Adaptations have been made, but the engraving isn’t as perfect as any of Bain’s drawings.

Work in progress

George Bain, his daughter Claire, or one of his students, has chosen a large length of fairly coarse, grey-brown linen for this work. In fact, the material is so heavy and dull in colour that we don’t know if it really was intended for a wall hanging. Perhaps each circle was to be cut out once embroidered and used as a placemat.

The prepared designs have been drawn onto the cloth. Three patterns are outlined in pencil, but only one has been started. Two are of the Aberlemno triskeles (three-in-one spirals), carved into the centre of the Pictish cross in the graveyard. The other is of three intertwined birds, their talons interlocked at the middle of the roundel. Each bird has a different design on its wing. They are loosely based on similar examples in the Book of Kells.

Four knotted birds

This long, narrow embroidery really is stunning. At more than 1m long it could either be a wall hanging or a table runner. It consists of two pairs of birds, one at each end of the cloth, connected by series of five complex knotwork shapes. The tail feathers interlace with other, separate, coloured strands, finally linking the birds together.

The tail feathers are elements of elaborately stylised and decorated birds with entwined necks. Each has an elongated crest feather of gold wrapped around the two necks and then held in the other’s beak.

The strands that form the birds are worked in satin stitch and feather stitch. Other parts of the design use fly stitch and french knots. Every element is outlined in black, as if the design was a drawing. But the embroiderer has cleverly used shades of different colours to produce an almost  painted effect.