A few years ago I was introduced to a beautiful form of needlework called the Tampan Ship cloth that were woven in Sumatra in the 18th and 19th centuries. I'm not going to give a whole background, but I'll point you to a few articles that I enjoyed (1)(2)(3) for more info on their history.
|A Tampan ship cloth|
|Amager Panel chart by Needleprint: |
similar motif density in a monochromatic embroidery
I decided I needed to make a cross stitch version of a Tampan cloth. It would be technically impossible and undesirable to make a direct reproduction of one for many reasons. The weaving has a different aspect ratio than cross stitch. Look at how many different line slopes there are! The cross stitch would have to be huge (we're talking a couple thousand stitches wide) to give a thread for thread reproduction.
Also, the repetition. That's a lot of big red fish. Many of these cloths include the same figures over and over, often doing a mirror image of the whole ship so it could be draped over a table/alter/coffin/? and be seen oriented correctly on both sides. Some of these cloths had to be made by the same person or school, as the designs are as identical as handwoven can get. I thought I was looking at two photos of the same cloth on this one until I started looking very closely. I took my initial layout from the twins below, but was soon scrounging other cloths for more interesting and diverse figures and motifs to substitute.
I couldn't resist all of the adorable and strange little animals that decorated the different cloths. Look at the alligator, and the little monkey things, bizarre camel birds, octopi, and godzilla. Look at the topmost picture in the post at the little flying goats/reindeer. Every inch has such interesting creatures. I suggest you Google the topic and spend a time looking at the highest res photos.
As I studied all of the images I could find (big thank you to all those universities and museums that have high resolution images of their entire collections!) I tried to make sense of what the images were. What were the people holding? Men with spears - were those the warriors? Are those ladies or just Hammer pants? Were those stringers of fish and drying herbs hanging everywhere? That must be an umbrella, and that a hut. Are those angry warriors brandishing their masculinity (a detail I chose to omit from my version?) And little filler patterns, stars, and plants everywhere.
|The Ship of Life - original sampler design by Tracy Horner of Ink Circles|
based on motifs from antique Tampan Ship Cloths (c)