I bought this framed embroidery a couple of weeks ago. The combination of soft, delicate colours, natural linen fabric and wood frame beguiled me. On closer inspection, the glass was filthy, the embroidery squashed under the glass, the background damaged by a water mark and evidence of wool-eating beasties could be seen. Not ideal!
I took the piece out of the frame and was delighted to find that it hadn’t been glued to a board, as is often the case with old pieces. It was properly stretched and tied with linen thread. Then I discovered its hidden secret – fading! I was astonished to find that the delicate, soft colours were not intentional! The original colours were much louder and verging on the fluorescent in case of the orange. Not my style at all. I much prefer the faded version.
Not only had the thread faded, the linen background had also bleached. The plywood backing has a beautiful pattern left from the embroidery design too!
I washed the piece carefully in cool water – luckily the colours were water fast, even if not light fast. This has fluffed up the squashed embroidery too, and a light steam has left it looking great. I need to repair a few places where moth damage has cut through the wool threads.
I actually prefer the piece unframed, so you can see the darker linen edges which provide a framing effect and the rusty nail marks from the framing.
If you want an embroidery to last a long time on display, get it framed with acid-free board and keep it out of direct sunlight.
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