Poppies And Wheat, Cleaned and Conserved

Some of you may recall that some time ago, my mother and I were planning to reframe one of my Grandmama’s embroideries, and discovered to our horror that it had been glued to a backing board made of strawboard.

In due course, we found a textile restorer, not too far away, and I took it to her. And now we have it back again. In the course of the work, it was discovered that two different sorts of glue had been used. One of them was unstuck fairly easily, but a particularly acidic glue had been used on the back of the embroidery itself – almost as if the framer did not believe the work had been finished off properly. Which it had – apparently it was very difficult to find some threads to take out to test for colourfastness!

The fabric and thread are both much brighter than they were, but the very acidic glue that was used is the reason for the bloom of staining around the embroidery. It’s much reduced, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to remove it entirely.

So, Gentle Reader – be careful with glues and boards. Avoid if you can, use neutral-pH as far as you can, or someone in the future will be muttering imprecations in your direction!


  1. Sue Jones says:

    I’m glad your conservator was able to improve the fabric a little. I don’t remember people thinking much about the pH of glues or mounts in my youth – you just used what was to hand. (Seccotine and Copydex, sticky tape, strawboard, mountings that turned brown almost as soon as the piece was framed…) I guess it gives conservators an income these days, but it’s sad when things are damaged like that.

    Maybe you could make a copy of Grandomama’s embroidery, or of a few sprigs from it?

  2. Terrie says:

    Nice that you have it back with a good look. Very delicate poppies. I always love poppies.

  3. Melissa says:

    Wonderful that you’re saving cherished pieces! Cheers for you! It would be nice to think that someone in the future wanted to preserve something I had made. But they’d probably be appalled if they actually saw the inside or underside of my work – so tangled, wadded, and messy!

  4. Meredithe says:

    What a beautiful piece of embroidery! I’m so glad it was able to be saved. So special.

  5. Well done! I can’t imagine using glue for framing purposes. I might yse a textile glue on a project that requires it, but never to stick a piece to backing board. Hope you both enjoy the results. 🙂

  6. Dima says:

    I’m glad it came out ok. It’s a wonderful piece.

  7. Lin says:

    It is a beautiful piece of work, I am glad you have been able to save it. It’s a good warning about the use of glue. I stretch anything that I feel is a ‘masterpiece’! xx

  8. Carolyn says:

    I’m glad you were able to do something about the glue. The piece now looks beautiful. When every I read, “glue the embroidery to the board” I have nightmares. You can see why now.

  9. Alex Hall says:

    The conservator did a great job in the circumstances. Glue. What a nightmare!

  10. Anita says:

    such a beautiful piece! am glad that you were able to restore it.

  11. What gorgeous embroidery. Glad you could save it. So sorry you fell. Happy New Year!

  12. Jules says:

    This is just exquisite! So glad you found this excellent conservator.

  13. Karen says:

    this is a stunning piece of work….I am glue averse, completely glue averse. I am so happy you found an accomplished restorer. It’s such an honour to have care of these pieces.

  14. Gail says:

    If the shaded areas in different locations, is the result of the glue, well I was seeing some lovely shading on the fabric. The shading enhanced the poppy or the wheat head or the green leaves as if it was to have been there all along. The stitches seem to pop (can you pop without popping) out & say ‘Look at Me’.

  15. Susan says:

    That’s a shame, but it’s still a beautiful piece. I don’t find it detracts at all from the beauty of the stitching.