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Write till your ink be dry

The Holy Bible with an embroidered silk covering



About the Item

This beautiful copy of the Christian Bible was published in 1629 during the reign of King James I. 

The book is bound in leather with a white silk cover. If you look carefully, you can see that the silk is embroidered with birds, serpents, insects, plants and flowers. This ‘tree of life’ embroidery pattern featuring flowers and animals was very popular during Shakespeare’s time. 

Can you see how the embroidered creatures and tree appear textured? This type of embroidery was very popular and is called ‘worsted crewel work’. It is created by strands of yarn being twisted together and stitched to the surface of the silk to create a raised and thicker pattern than you see on traditional embroidery. 

There are also silver spangles (sparkly sequins) on the cover. If you look very closely you will see lots of small holes in the silk that may suggest that there were even more spangles when the embroidered cover was first added. 

Try this!

Create a beautifully bound book of your own. You could use paints, coloured pens, material, sparkles, collage materials. The choice is yours. Here's an activity sheet to give you some help and get you started. You'll find lots more ideas on the Shakespeare Week website. 


CC-BY-NC-ND Image Courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust