The thought of being hunched over an embroidery frame looking through a lite magnifying glass for 6.5 hours a day for 6 days would send many people running away screaming “Noooooooooo!” Not yours truly!
I love needle work. Crocheting and cross stitch have been my biggest passions for nearly 34 years. For the last two or so years, surface embroidery has captured my interest. There are several blogs I’m subscribed to whose work always brings a smile to my face. Jenny of Elefantz is a favorite. Hugs from Helen is too as well as Purl Bee. Many of these embroiderers use their work as embellishments to their quilts. However, I was more interested in embroidery that would take longer than an hour to do and not involve quilting. Better yet, I’d love to find a way to learn ecclesial pictorial embroidery similar to what was done in the Medieval age. In my search I stumbled upon Hexaermon.
HEXÆMERON is a 501c(3) non-profit organization founded in 2003 by a group of Orthodox Christians who saw the need to provide a sound and structured education in the art of icon painting based on classic Byzantine prototypes and rendered in the ancient and traditional technique of the egg-tempera medium.
Since their founding they have added embroidery and carving to their courses. When I saw that, you can bet I jumped right on registering for the embroidery workshop scheduled to be held in Hartford, Connecticut the week of June 9 to 15. An icon painting workshop would also be held at the same time
Sunday I packed my car trunk with my embroidery stand, table top magnifying lamp, embroidery scissors, notebook, pen, pencil and personal necessities for a week. I was nervous and excited, not knowing what to expect.
St. Thomas Seminary and Conference Center was where the workshops were held. It was a beautiful campus with an imposing Gothic structure. The chapel gives one a feeling of soaring into the sky. I thought about how nice it would be to pop into the chapel during the day to pray.
That first night both groups gathered for a lecture on iconography in general. It was very informative. It was presented by iconographer Marek Czarnecki (who continues to study under the tutelage of Russian Orthodox iconographer Ksenia Pokrovsky), was very interesting. He explained, “To be an icon, it must show: beauty, ideal proportion, ideal sense, use of light [transfigured from within] and inverse perspective.” And in every icon you will see, “the spiritual life of the iconographer, the spiritual life of the Church, and the spiritual state of the world.”
I went to bed with my head spinning wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into. The next day would begin to reveal just that.