I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of certain types of embroidery done on black velvet.
Mostly, it’s colorful embroidery on black velvet that makes me shudder.
Taken apart, I like the concept of embroidery on velvet, I like colorful embroidery, I like velvet, and I like black, but put them all together into the phrase “embroidery on black velvet” and it just Does Something to me.
I blame it on Elvis.
Larger-than-life images of Elvis painted in neon-esque colors on black velvet waft into my head when I think of embroidery on black velvet.
Now, don’t get me wrong! I have nothing against Elvis – I like my blue suede shoes, too – but how anyone deserves to be memorialized in garish colors on black velvet wall hangings is beyond the scope of my understanding.
So, you see, I generally shy away from embroidery on black velvet.
Unless it’s something like this:
This is raised goldwork, worked over card foundations, on black velvet.
A while ago, I wrote a series of articles on Needle ‘n Thread on deconstructing goldwork embroidery. In the articles, I took apart a piece of old goldwork embroidery, so that we could examine how it was made, backwards.
The techniques used in this raised goldwork piece above are essentially the same. Fine goldwork threads are couched from side to side over raised card foundations to create high relief embroidery.
This particular piece of embroidery adorns a birthday present I received last month. A friend who knows I like these kinds of things gave me an old chasuble, which is a church vestment, for my birthday.
It is in very good shape, except for the lining, which is completely worn into shreds. The embroidery, though, is practically pristine, especially given the age of the piece, which is probably anywhere from 100-125 years old.
What I really love about this particular piece is the way the goldwork plays in the light.
Sometimes, it looks almost entirely silver – like in the first two photos. But in some light, you can see the soft gold sheen of these antique gold threads.
The piece is absolutely gorgeous – and it’s quite rare to find this type of embroidery on an old vestment, with the embroidery in such good shape.
Because the vestment is in good shape, I donated it to a church. They’ll have their people replace the lining, make a couple missing pieces to the set, and then it can be used again in its intended setting.
And now I’m going to stop thinking of embroidery on black velvet.
But I have a feeling Blue Suede Shoes will be stuck in my head All Day Long…