|The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry|
Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, best-selling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. Learn more about them and their books at their website. Today Joyce stops by to tell us all about tapestry weaving, the craft featured in their latest Renaissance Faire Mystery series.
We have incorporated a craft in each of our Renaissance Faire Mysteries because our protagonist, Jessie Morton, was working on her dissertation: Renaissance Crafts in Modern Day. Each of the themes have been a craft that was used during the Renaissance: basket weaving, glass making, swords and daggers, hats, and toys.
In the sixth Ren Faire Mystery, Murderous Matrimony, Jessie is the new director of the Renaissance Village Arts and Crafts Museum. She is two weeks away from marrying her longtime beau, Bailiff Chase Manhattan.
Murder upsets her plans, and the ghost of her nemesis, Wanda Le Fey haunts her, but she still opens the museum on time. Her first exhibit features a tapestry weaver.
Traditional tapestry, from the old French, tapisserie, is rectangular and flat-woven. Tapestry weaving is woven by shapes or colors as the design progresses. It is a form of textile art, woven on a vertical or floor loom. Most weavers use a warp thread such as linen or cotton. The weft threads may be the same, but may also include silk, or metallic threads.
The accessibility and portability of a tapestry is what made it so successful as an early art form. The rich could transport tapestries, and use them as needed to show their birthright, wealth, and power. Churches displayed them on special occasions. Tapestries were also used as decorative insulation on castle walls.
Though tapestries have been used since the early Greeks hung them in the Third Century BC, they didn’t become popular until the 14th century in Europe. And while the craft has expanded worldwide, the basic tools remain the same.
Today, tapestry weavers and their art can be found everywhere. Tapestries, depicting every form of life in their multi-colored threads, hang in cathedrals, mansions, and every day homes.
In less than two short weeks, Jessie Morton will marry Chase Manhattan at the Renaissance Faire Village and Marketplace. But so much can go wrong in that short time. A man is murdered in Jessie's new Arts and Crafts Museum, and her assistant is being scrutinized for the deed. Chase's brother and parents have arrived and are still against their marriage. Wanda's ghost is busy making Jessie's life miserable. The Ren Faire wedding of her dreams may never take place. Can she talk Chase into eloping before it's too late?