Embroidered Treasures

Bonnets and caps on a table. Historic costumes hanging on the stone wall.
Only one table but so beautiful treasures!

After the great success on Mastodon, I would like to show you photos of treasures that I took at the last special exhibition at the Alsatian heritage centre Maison Rurale. I don’t want to make a lot of words, but just show the photos and the special and rare handicrafts. There are only these „few bonnets“ on the table, but they are amazing!

I’m not fascinated by these historical gems because I’m a special fan of caps. I’m enraptured by the techniques and materials, that nowadays you only see in haute couture. Embroidery and lace but also perlage are the main focus. I don’t just want to know how it worked. This art inspires me for my project of biodiversity shrines because it shows similarities with monastery works for precious relics.

Follow me to this table and let’s have a look! You can enlargen the photos with a click. (All images are copyright by Petra van Cronenburg, all rights reserved). With heartfelt thanks to the hardworking people of the Maison Rurale who make such exhibitions possible – and to Jean-Luc Neth for his exhibits on loan.

Photo 1-2: A white cap with silver threads woven in the fabric. The colourful decoration in red, green and blue is made with applications of metal and silver canetille. Metal pieces are embossed in floral or diamond forms.

Photo 3: Applications with metal sequins and canetille embroidery, some coloured cabochons.

Photo 4: Floral bouquet with fantasy blossoms in pastel colours, maize and corn. Precious embroidery with glass rocailles, metallic sequins and golden canetille on a dark blue bonnet.

These richly embroidered caps and bonnets are good examples of gold work in embroidery, lacemaking and the setting of rhinestones. Leaves and petals are cut from metal and ornated with canetille, sequins, set rhinestones and even perlage with glass rocailles. These traditional flower bouquets and iconic symbols are combined with goldwork embroidery. It is a feast of the tree of life in all its presentations. The workmanship is so artistic that only with a magnifying glass can you see the fine holes with which the metal parts have been sewn into place. Of course, only by hand. This craft is becoming rare and it is increasingly difficult to find adequate materials for restorations. There are parallels to precious monastery works, the „klosterarbeiten“.

Photo 1: For the coloured cotton blossoms satin stitch is combined with French knots. The borders made from gold metallic sequins are embellished with canetille and some braid.

Photo 2: This coloured fine cap has a handmade braid. In France, the craft of making braids is still a profession. These people work mainly for Haute Couture or military ceremonial uniforms.

Photo 3: Reconstruction of bead embroidery with coloured glass rocailles.

Photo 4-5: Raised goldwork or high relief gold embroidery looks like a satin stitch in 3 D. It is worked over card or board and other foundations, f.e. felt. Today this technique is mainly used in haute couture or ecclesiastical embroidery. In former times, precious military show uniforms could show 3-D ornaments, too. The goldwork here is combined with set red rhinestones and probably nacre. Sequins on small canetille stems form leaves.