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The Norse Cloak of Myth

Sometimes it is hard to remember precisely when an idea is born. In this case I think it was while we were driving around Iceland that this project first came into focus.

We discussed it, thought it would be a nice project but would take many years and if I’m honest, I suspected it might just be a pipe dream.

Debbie working of hanging at Lofotr.  Image copyrighted  Gary Waidson. All rights reserved.

My partner Debbie enjoys many different crafts but embroidery is a particular skill.

She has worked on museum quality projects such as the one you can see her working on here for Lofotr in Northern Norway and she has made some fabulous work for me over the years, much of it being featured in my regular school workshops.

Norse Cloak of Myth Concept  Image and design copyrighted  Gary Waidson/Debbie Newell. All rights reserved.

It was not long after our Iceland trip in 2014 that this first concept image was created, outlining a Valknut formed from the branches of the great tree “Laerad” embracing the nine worlds described in the Norse pantheon.

Norse Cloak of Myth Concept Art  Image and design copyrighted  Gary Waidson/Debbie Newell. All rights reserved.

Much to my surprise, Debbie handed me a watercolour pad in 2016, on my birthday, containing 83 pages of beautiful concept art. I was speechless, which is very rare for me.

Norse Cloak of Myth Concept Art.  Image and design copyrighted  Gary Waidson/Debbie Newell. All rights reserved.

I knew she had been doing some research but the scope of it and the quality of the artwork was a revelation.

One of the things that impressed me most  was that  I could recognise many of the images from archaeological or art sources from the period or very close to it. Although we were creating something new and unique, the design itself had it’s foundations firmly rooted in the art of the Nordic world.

Norse Cloak of Myth Concept Art.  Image and design copyrighted  Gary Waidson/Debbie Newell. All rights reserved.

What followed were some simple line drawings on rolled paper to match the scale of the intended garment and my skills finally came into play with photographing the line work and compositing it so that we could get some sense of the entire thing.

Selecting colours for Valknut/Tree.  Image and design copyrighted  Gary Waidson/Debbie Newell. All rights reserved.

The base material for the cloak was chosen to be a good match for natural black sheep wool and the thread for the embroidery ( crewel work strictly speaking ) is pure wool as well. Some colours would be chosen for symbolic purposes while others would help to identify key characters.

Norse Cloak of Myth. Embroidery of Valknut/Tree almost completed.  Image and design copyrighted  Gary Waidson/Debbie Newell. All rights reserved.

Work on the embroidery itself started in the summer of 2017 and the image you see here was taken at the end of 2018.

Norse Cloak of Myth. Concept Art overlaid on Embroidery.  Image and design copyrighted  Gary Waidson/Debbie Newell. All rights reserved.

In this second shot I have superimposed the proposed digital artwork on the embroidery to give a better idea of how the finished article may look, although the design is still evolving as time goes on.

Click on the image above for a closer look and to see the characters and places labelled.

I should make it clear at this point that we are not setting out to make a reproduction of a real artefact here. Although the Vikings and Saxons did use embroidery, it would have rarely been used in this sort of quantity.

The intention is to create a visual aid for story telling and as such the design contains elements from many of the important stories that create an arc from the Norse creation myth to the prophesy of Ragnarok at it’s end. It serves as a mind map of sorts to a fantastic world, populated by gods and giants, elves and dwarves, dragons and other spiritual creatures.

This will be used as part of our education work when it is finished.

 

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Lore-and-Saga Living history services and resources for schools, museums and heritage sites. Viking and Roman in school sessions and craft demonstrations. teachers notes and worksheets. Vikings, Saxons, Romans, national curriculum, invaders and settlers, key stage 2, history, teachers information, living history interpreter, in school sessions, storytelling, Roman resources, educational presentations, Viking lore, runes, Roman lore, Viking saga, living history interpretation, Viking resources, Odin, Viking crafts demonstrations, Roman cookery display, Viking silverwork, Roman games, chronology, Viking games, Roman school visits, Viking runes, national curriculum history key stage two, Viking school visits
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