Earlier, I touched upon Cloth of Gold, exploring what it is and how it’s made. This exquisite textile made of gold-wrapped thread is expensive, somewhat hard to come by, and, in antique textiles, highly desired when in good shape. Here, I’m examining a piece made of cloth of gold, but which has unfortunately been damaged. The question is whether or not it is completely beyond repair.
The piece is a liturgical stole made from cloth of gold. It matches an exquisite set of vestments made from the same fabric.
This is a shot of one side of the stole, where the cloth of gold is in excellent shape, especially considering the age and the use of the piece.
And here is the other side, where you can see that the piece really is exquisite. The nature of this particular cloth is damask-like, with a pattern woven into the overall cloth. It is not embroidered in any way – the pattern you see is simply part of the pattern of the cloth.
There’s a beautiful goldwork cloth on each side of the front of the stole. Again, it’s in really good shape – there are a few spots where the gold thread is broken, but overall this does not mar the beauty of the piece. Age and wear are not highly evident.
But then, the tragedy:
Here you can see the torn fibers that need repair. Note how the cloth of gold is made in layers – underneath the gold thread, there are at least three layers: the first is the “base” of the fabric – it looks like a coursely woven material. The second and third layers directly under the gold are soft gold-colored thread in layers like padding. Then comes the gold.
It reminds me somewhat of shredded wheat cereal. What a mess! The question is, how can cloth of gold like this be repaired in a way that shows the least amount of damage? I’m musing over this question – and if you have any ideas, I’m all ears!
Here’s the spot on the opposite side of the stole – not as bad, but still noticeably damaged!
The fringe at the bottom of the stole also needs some attention. The strands are crossed and held together by red thread, in an attractive pattern, but the red thread needs work!
In fact, the red thread is completely missing on half of the fringed edge.
The fringe won’t be difficult to fix up. It’s not really damaged – it just needs to be re-worked with red thread.
The cloth of gold itself, though, definitely needs repair before this piece can be used again. So here’s my question: any good ideas on how to go about this? Of course, there are always those professionals that restore textiles, but I’m going to (very carefully!) give it a go myself before resorting to a professional. This may be a mistake, but the cost of such a repair would probably be tremendous, if it can be done at all.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions, ideas, or inspirations, feel free to share ’em!