Every Wednesday morning I help with the restoration of altar frontals. Many of them are Victorian or even earlier. They are all from local villages around Caxton in Cambridgeshire except for one, the festival frontal from Ely Cathedral.
This required renewing 5,000 miniature pearls which we had specially dyed a smokey grey. The other frontals usually the silk has rotted on the background so we cut the embroidery off. The old background fabric is then sent to Vanners silk mill in Sudbury where it is scanned by computer and the colour and pattern are then reproduced exactly. We re-apply the embroidery with invisible thread and repair any goldwork as necessary.
This is done at the home of Isobel Latimore who is a member of the Worshipful Company of Broderers. Sometimes the work is tedious but as a contemporary embroiderer it keeps my skills up in traditional embroidery. There are six of us and the banter, gossip and laughter are a real tonic.