The Embroidery Museum

The table cloth on the stairs of the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaThe table cloth on the stairs

La Palma has a long tradition of gorgeous embroidery. As I mentioned in my previous post, the embroidery museum is upstairs in the Red House, in Mazo. This gorgeous tablecloth in broderie anglaise is halfway up the stairs.

Assisi embroidery in the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaAssisi embroidery, a form of cross stitch. About the only thing in the museum I could see myself making.

Now I’m fairly good at cross stitch, but the stuff in here is waaaaaaaaaaay out of my league. For one thing, it’s not done on aida cloth, which makes it obvious where the stitches go. This is all on fine cotton or silk, or occasionally linen.

Broderie anglaise in the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaBroderie Anglaise

The commonest kinds of embroidery here are satin stich (bordado indefinido) , and a variation of broderie anglaise called rechi or richelieu.

A fish in satin stitch in the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaA fish in satin stitch

In the days before modern embroidery kits, pattens were copied onto tissue paper, and the lines marked out with lots of tiny pinholes. Then the tissue paper was laid onto the cloth, and blue dye ironed over it, so that the dye went through the pinhole and onto the fabric.

Materials to transfer a pattern to the cloth in the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaHow to transfer a pattern to the cloth

A lot of the embroidery is so fine, I think you’d need young eyes and daylight to do it. So you’d spend years learning to work to that amazing standard, and then you’d have to give up by the age of forty.

Fine satin stitch on a cuff in the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaFine satin stitch on a cuff

You know, I have mixed feeling about it. These are real works of art, and I’m always glad to see beauty created. But the vast majority of it was only created because some people could afford to buy a year of someone else’s time. For example, these embroidered sheets and pillow case for a cradle are absolutely beautiful, but it’s really not practical. I don’t want to get too graphic here, but 19th century nappies can’t have been leak-proof, and babies’ cute little faces aren’t leak-proof either. Much as I coo over tiny people, I wouldn’t put one down on embroidered silk.

A cradle full of embroidered silk in the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaA cradle full of embroidered silk.

And this towel is far too lovely to dry your behind on, unless you were fairly contemptuous of the person who made it.

Satin stitch towel in the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaSatin stitch towel. Imagine drying your bum on that!

The museum is signposted from the main road through Mazo, and in any case, it’s a pretty distinctive building. It costs 2€ to get in (1.50€ for residents) for both the embroidery museum and the Corpus Christi museum. It’s open from 10 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday, and 11 am – 6 pm on Saturdays. Phone 922 428 587

Satin stitch on a priest's vestments in the embroidery museum, Mazo, La PalmaSatin stitch on a priest’s vestments

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

This article has 2 Comments

  1. Web site doesn’t give hours of operation, admission charge, location and how to get there from port (we will be on a cruise ship). Please provide that information.
    Thank you.

  2. As the article says, “It costs 2€ to get in (1.50€ for residents) for both the embroidery museum and the Corpus Christi museum. It’s open from 10 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday, and 11 am – 6 pm on Saturdays. Phone 922 428 587”
    Bus times are at http://sheilacrosby.com/public-transport-2/. You want route 200 or 201.

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