Today’s article in our series on the Kingdom’s Virtual Queens Prize Tourney features the intricate Blackwork Embroidery Piece, made by artisan, Lady Thalia Papillon. As we do not have the ability to converse with our entrants face to face, the Virtual Queens Prize Tourney now offers the opportunity to drool over images and read the documentation right there on the Kingdom Ministry of Arts & Sciences website – even to leave feedback! And to learn a little more about the artisan and their thoughts behind their entry, the organizers decided to broaden our traditional entry of object and documentation with personal interviews.


The piece I have been working on is the Polychrome counted thread embroidery from the Jane Bostocke sampler, year 1598. I chose one portion of the sampler to work on.

Could you tell us a little about you, your persona.

My involvement with the SCA began when I was living down in western Virginia in the Charlottesville area in the Kingdom of Atlantia with a small local group the Shire of Isenfir. My first SCA event I attended was the Kingdom of Atlantia Arts and Science Championship. I participated in monthly archery practices, took classes in Arts and Science, and attended weekly dance practice. I moved to Buffalo and joined the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael in 2016 and Ice Dragon was my first event I attended in Aethelmearc. The persona I chose was Viking as the style of garb with apron dresses and strings of beads which I found particularly interesting.

What inspired you to make your entry?

The inspiration for making my entry is my love for doing needlework as I have been doing cross stitch since I was kid which I learned from my Aunt. After entering several arts and science displays, making largesse to donate to the Kingdom, as well as entering completed cross stitch work into competitions including the Pentathlon, I received encouragement from peers who saw my work with cross stitch to branch out to trying to black work because of the skill I already had with needlework to move towards doing work that is representative of the middle ages period. I found myself being open to trying a new skill as I have the basics down with doing needlework and felt that I had the ability to be able to branch out to try a different form of needlework.

What is your intention with your entry?

The intention with my entry to showcase my work and be able to gain feedback with how I can improve / expand with doing black work as I am currently in the beginning stages with doing this method and this piece that I am sharing is only the second piece I have completed. I would like to grow this current piece and explore ways to incorporate using different materials and work towards how to utilize black work as was done in the middle ages period according to the research that I have done while working on this piece.

Did the entry throw up any unexpected issues?

As I started working on the entry, due to the nature of the pattern being a chain like pattern I chose to inquire with a peer what would be the best area of the pattern to start with and the length of thread to use and how to loop it in on the other side so as not have too many loose ends of threads on the other side as it is custom in black work for the work to look identical on both sides of the fabric. I am accustomed to starting in the center of the fabric when working on cross stitch so that the design is centered. I found it a bit challenging to start on a different area of the pattern other than the center only because that is what I am used to doing with cross stitch and had concerns about the design not being even or centered. I had to pay particular attention to the reverse side of the fabric to make sure stitches were going in the same direction as the ones on the other side so that both sides would be identical. I was able to grasp this concept to some degree, however, I would have to continue to work on ending the stitches on the other side so that there would less thread tails showing which would take some time and continued practice.

Did you learn something specific, something you would do differently, or would recommend others to do again?

This piece was my first venture into stitching a project using a pattern from a period sampler. Something different that I would do is continue to work on pieces that are of a period reference and have historical significance. I would also like to spend time exploring black work to look for other patterns to work on and do additional research of how black work was utilized in the middle ages time period.

What motivated you to enter the Virtual Queens Prize Tourney?

I chose to enter the Virtual queen’s prize tourney for several different reasons. I would like to have opportunities to showcase my work and to be able to share with others because before coming to the SCA, the pieces that I worked on were only shared with a few close people in my life. I would like opportunities for feedback / guidance as I have taken the first steps towards branching out in different type of needlework as encouraged by peers. I find that being able to create things with needlework to be very satisfying and uplifting. I have also had the personal satisfaction thus far with seeing how my work can be appreciated by others and that items that I have had made with cross stitch for largesse have been shared and appreciated by others. I would like to continue in this path be able to learn more and gain experience with Black work.

Thank you, Lady Thalia Papillon, for sharing your wonderful work with our Kingdom’s artisans and populace!

If you would like to see Lady Thalia’s entry, follow this link. And if you liked her work, have a question to ask, or a tip to share – please leave your comments with her entry! You can “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of the entry’s page. We have a few more days to peruse, enjoy and interact with the entrants. Make use of the opportunity, if you can!

Would you like to enter your own project? The deadline for entering the Virtual Queens Prize Tourney is June 30th, JUST A FEW MORE DAYS, and you can find all you need to know on how to enter on the KMOAS website.