Is Laidwork Art?

I first learned about Laidwork at a Fiber Arts Guild meeting, in Boulder County, Colorado.  A wonderful woman named Hansa Isokoski taught us how to do Laidwork.

Laidwork is most known from the Bayeux Tapestry. It is a combination of the Satin stitch, couched over to give it a rippling effect.  The Stem stitch is used throughout this well-known piece, to outline the figures.

To better understand how Laidwork is done, check out

The Fulford Tapestry

Some fun sites to check out on the Internet about the Bayeux Tapestry include:

The Animated Bayeux Tapestry 

Bayeux Museum

I found an interesting article in the Magazine of Art, showing Laidwork used for the creation of beautiful book covers;

Prideaux, S. T. 1891. Embroidered Book-Covers: Materials and Stitches. The Magazine of Art. V.14, Dec. 1890 to Nov. 1891. London, Cassell & Company, Limited. Pages 61-65.

When I first began embroidering the Cantigas stitches, I used the Split Stitch.  It was very time-consuming, and the patches were loose, floppy, or flimsey.  Hoever, once I tried Laid work on the patches, I found a quicker way to fill the drawings, and indeed, the patch was actually quite stiff. In the video below, the first patch is made of Split Stitch, and the other two are Laidwork.  The feel of the stitches are also quite different.

Split Stitch vs Laidwork

So, do you think Laidwork is art or craft?  If it wasn’t for the Bayeux Tapestry, would people think Laidwork is any different than crewel work or embroidery work? I often wonder if people around the world think of it as just embroidery, or a craft.  I believe that Laidwork is an art form.  I feel that each time my needle makes a stitch, it is similar to the brush-stroke of a painter, or the hammer & chisel of the carver.