Well, I never intend for posts to be so few and far between so I want to start this entry with a heartfelt apology for the long hiatus. During these last several months I have been very busy finishing several restoration projects (whew!), taking in several more restoration projects (yay!), fulfilling countless orders, taking several road trips, holidays, illness, and, well, life. It has been on my mind to write about various projects along the way but one particular restoration project deserves a much closer look. This double-sided Marian banner was as lovely as it was challenging. The entire banner required dismantling and reassembly. This meant I had to gently remove all of the embroideries and preserve them for reapplication on new fabric. The process was grueling, in part due to the fragile state of the old fabric and embroideries, and in part due to unexpected hurdles that required me to adjust, improvise, and overcome. The galloon (the metalwork trim often found on liturgical vestments and textiles) was one of the biggest hurdles. All indications were that it held up nicely to time but all too often, as I was removing it, the thread at the edges completely disintegrated. The biggest problem was that once that thread is missing there is nothing left to hold the metalwork together. It would have been easy to find replacement galloon but it is quite costly, especially at this volume, and I was doing my best to honor a budget as well as preserve all of the original parts. I was largely successful, with some trouble spots that I managed as I went.
The centerpiece of this banner deserves a long, thoughtful gaze. Though decades of use and devotion wore away many stitches this lovely Our Lady of Grace centerpiece remains as striking as I imagine she ever was. The technique to create this kind of figure embroidery is lost to time but it is evident that the skill and execution of this piece were impeccable.
After all of the embroideries were gently removed from the original disintegrated fabric, reassembly seemed like a breeze. I did not dare put any of these pieces under a machine for reassembly. Instead I thoroughly enjoyed spending time hand-stitching the entire piece back together. Even through a few minor injuries along the way it was treasured time of prayer and contemplation. Bonus Backstory: In 1995 my dear Uncle K was married at the church to which this banner belongs. I was drawn to fiber arts but, at the time, I had a newborn and I never imagined myself actually creating or restoring anything. I remember seeing this piece at the church and being fascinated by the needlework.
Fast forward: My dear Uncle K passed away in 2022 and I was (still am) completely heartbroken over that loss. Several months after his death I was contacted by the same church to ask about restoring this banner. I don't dare try to put words to all that my soul experienced through this project from start to finish but entrust it all to Our Lady of Grace.
May our devotion to Our Lady of Grace be as seamless as her faithfulness toward us.