How to clean 18thc woolwork embroidery with your fingers crossed

18thc woolwork cleaningAnother  piece from that well known internet auction sight.

I was looking for a vintage piece with similar colours and dimensions to one I already own to balance out the main picture wall in the terrace bedroom.

I am aiming for a little more symmetry and visual balance  in the French village house to counteract the simple fact that there simply isn’t a single symmetrical architectural feature anywhere . More on that later.

Anyway, I found this framed piece for peanuts and collected it. Call me crazy but I expected that it would have been glazed to protect the piece?

No, it had been left to accumulate muck for a very long time20150907_114928.

There were hints of typically 18thc pastel colours under the stains, some of which had been caused by the curious orange sticky paper holding it into the frame; oh , and the rusty nails that had been driven through the actual embroidery itself. Anything of this nature is always a gamble.

First I carefully got off as much sticky paper as possible. Then I removed the nails, trying hard not to make the attendant holes any bigger.

Once prised from it’s frame. I tried a soak in old fashioned soap. It shifted the muck not a jot….though the remaining glue came off (mostly).

So, do I take a punt? Come on, this is me, of course I do. So I put it into a mesh bag (the sort you wash tights & undies in) and put it through a no-spin delicate wash with baby detergent. I laid it flat outside to dry gently

antique woolwork embroideryFirst though, I sewed up the more obvious holes to stop the rot spreading any further. It has come out great and I love the rough hemp canvas background so much I am going to keep that visible and hang as is (no frame)

I always use a transparent filament “thread” to repair such pieces, that way, if they prove to be priceless, the mending is distinct on the back and can be easily removed. The nature of the transparent thread means no further dyes or discolouration will leak onto the original work and my restoration won’t mess it up further. A great old piece now


About coteetcampagne

Artist, period home maker, renovator, restorer, Francophile. My mission is to save the old stuff, one beautiful piece at a time
This entry was posted in Antique and Vintage finds and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to clean 18thc woolwork embroidery with your fingers crossed

  1. poshbirdy says:

    That’s a result. I probably wouldn’t have been so brave, but it looks great

    Liked by 1 person

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