Sunday, 21 May 2017

Antique Bible Conservation.

Working in the Royal School of Needlework studio means that I get to see, handle and work on some fantastic antique textiles. This year I was lucky enough to conserve an ancient bible which was fully bound in embroidery. The embroidery was metal thread work , both flat and padded. The embroidery dates to first half of the seventeenth century.

There was only one piece missing which was a small leaf . The client decided that they wanted to replace the missing leaf for aesthetic reasons. This can be subjective. Should the embroidery be left as it is?  However in this case the bible was for retail and therefore not in a museum and the leaf can be removed if any future buyer decides they prefer all the parts should be original.

Read all about the project and see some photographs on the Royal School website 

A corner of the bible showing the fully embroidered background with couched metal threads and a wonderful rose in pink and yellow. This rose was stitched in a metal thread which was then wrapped with coloured silk.

A close up of the new leaf, it was a challenge to make a leaf that was going to fit in with all the antique stitching. I used Jacqui Careys book, Elizabethan Stitches to work out the correct buttonhole stitch to embroider. The picture shows me stitching a pulled piece of metal purl around the outside to try and replicate the original. Very delicate work!

Attaching the new leaf to the binding.


  1. What a fabulous piece to work on. Your skills are amazing and thanks to you this beautiful bible will survive for another couple of centuries.