The needlework depicts a house and garden in a landscape with a large vase of flowers on one side and a cornucopia on the other. It has been enhanced throughout with paint, and the signature “A I Plato” is stitched in the sky above the house. Before treatment, the work was heavily stained, overstretched, and had fragile embroidery floss. Kris’s goal was to stabilize the piece while also reducing signs of damage, such as a tideline caused by water, that have altered its appearance since Ann Plato completed it.
Kris began by removing the many closely spaced iron nails that had likely held the needlework to a wooden board since it was completed. After placing a soft nylon screen over the needlework, Kris carefully vacuumed each side while avoiding areas of paint. They then used an aqueous gel with a chelator to do additional surface spot cleaning, this time avoiding the embroidery, to remove as much of the tideline and rust stains left by the nails as possible. They then stabilized areas of loss and fragile embroidery, much of it in the sky, using laid and couch stitches.
Kris is in the process of creating an appropriate mounting and display system for the needlework that will allow it to be safely accessed by researchers, while also providing a way for Ann Plato’s story to be told to admiring fans of historic needlework.
A printable PDF version of this story is available here. Previous stories on projects from the Department of Art Conservation are archived and available here.