After examining the 19th century embroidered panel up close, my next step: preserving the design. Before I could make a good tracing of the design, I had to remove some of the loose metal threads.
There really weren’t that many metal threads that had to be removed from the embroidery. I removed just the ones that were completely displaced, broken, or bent completely out of shape. I was able to gently replace some metal threads by pushing them back into the shape of the outline they were supposed to be creating. For the most part, though, at the lightest touch of these threads – and especially any extreme movement into another position – they came right off without any coaxing.
Then, it was time to make a rubbing. With the panel lying flat on a long table, I placed tracing paper over the whole panel. I use a canary-colored, very thin tracing paper that comes on a roll. You can find it at art supply stores and the like, and it’s also sold in some quilt stores as a “trace and sew” paper.
To make the rubbing, I used the side of a soft, dull charcoal pencil and proceeded carefully, to avoid the paper tearing or the charcoal piercing through it. The rubbing is not crystal clear, but it does give a general layout of the pattern. The goldwork outlines were especially handy for getting a good line – if not a solid line, at least they created a little line of charcoal blips that could be easily traced into a smooth line.
After rubbing, I removed the tissue paper from the embroidery and went over major lines with the pencil again, to darken them up.
Then, with the embroidery far away from my permanent pens, I touched out the major lines with permanent ink, so that they are easy to see. Next step is to clean all of the lines up and work up a layout that is accurate, and finally, I’ll trace it all into one clean, accurate pattern for future use.
Once I’ve finished the pattern completely, I’ll wrap the embroidery in tissue and lay it on a flat shelf, where I have several other old pieces of embroidery of this type. Once I have the time to devote to it, I’ll make a few minor repairs that will stabilize the piece, and then consider how to preserve and perhaps display it.
As for preserving and displaying, what are you thoughts? What would you do with this piece, if you liked it a lot and wanted to do something other than store it? Any thoughts or ideas? Feel free to share them below!
So that’s my adventure so far with this beautiful piece of embroidery!
Tomorrow, a little deviation from the norm: a sweet little hand embroidery pattern for you. See you then!
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