Last week, I received a beautiful gift in the mail. And inside it was a note from the sender, explaining the enclosed scarf. She was passing it on to me, because it was buried in a drawer and she was afraid it would eventually be sent to a thrift store. She thought I might appreciate it – and she was So Right!
I love this scarf! I love it for lots of reasons – and I can’t wait to show it to you!
Here are both edges of the scarf, together. Though the fabric is somewhat colored with age, I think it was originally a light ivory color.
I love the color scheme! I love the embroidered motifs! I love the delicate fabric!
And I love the amazing fact that it is embroidered on this delicate, open, gauzy fabric with silk and with metal threads.
We often have the idea that metal threads are only for heavier fabrics – velvet, sturdy linen, silk backed with linen or cotton. But this scarf seriously defies that notion.
Notice in the close-ups that the fabric is literally gauze-like – like cotton voile. It has a very open, loose weave and is an extremely light fabric.
The silk stitches in some areas (like the “blossoms” of the flowers) are rather densely stitched in a softly twisted, plump filament silk. The stitches are packed in to make the filling areas, but on the branches, they barely cling to the fabric, with stem-stitch-type stitches, stitched over just one thread of that fabric. And yet, they’re all there! The fabric is not torn. The stitches are intact.
And then, at the base of the top blossom of the flower, what do you see? Metal threads, filling the inside of the “calyx” at the base of the flower head. You can also see metal plate (flat metal strips) scattered on the outside of each motif. Now, metal plate is stiff stuff, with sharp edges, and here, it passes through the fabric and is bent to pass across the back of the fabric and up on the other side, almost like satin stitch. And yet, the fabric still holds…
To give you an idea of the size of the embroidered motifs, here’s a mechanical pencil in relation to one motif …
… and here’s a regular spool of thread sitting on the scarf.
So the motifs are not huge – they’re about two inches tall, lending to the overall delicate look of the scarf.
Every other motif is worked in this color scheme, with a brown flower blossom at the top (the triangular element), and deep cranberry-colored blossoms to the side. There’s also ivory and pink on this motif, along with the greenery and goldwork.
I think the scarf if beautiful now – imagine what it looked like before the metal threads oxidized, while they were still bright gold!
Here, you see the design along the edge of the scarf. The scarf is lying on a white cloth, so you can see clearly the discoloration with age. It’s likely that the piece was off-white or ivory, but age has also taken a toll on it. You can tell the fabric is discolored with age, because it has a mottled appearance rather than a consistent, smooth color. Some parts of the fabric are not as dark as others – probably those lighter parts were folded to the inside.
The edge of the scarf has this metal plate running along it, whipped in a kind of broad stem stitch fashion. The plate along the edge is where most of the damage on the scarf is seen – the plate is banged up a bit, bent out of place, and the fibers of the fabric are slightly damaged.
I’m not exactly sure of the origins of the scarf. The gift-giver suggested Greek. I would lean more towards early 20th century India, with the combination of silk and metal on the open cotton fabric, and the stitch styles – but that’s just a guess. Wherever it originally came from, I think it’s lovely, don’t you?
Overall, the whole scarf is in fairly good repair. There’s some spotting and discoloration that I think will remove easily, and a couple little holes that I can darn. What will I do with it? Well, I’d like to wear it! But first, I’ll muse over the cleaning and repairs a while. If you happen to have any advice, my ears are yours..
Thank you, thank you, Mimi! The scarf made my whole week – and I hope everyone else has enjoyed seeing it, too!
Maybe it will inspire a project in someone out there – what do you think? Are you up for some silk and metal thread embroidery… on cotton voile?