Monday, February 20, 2012

Quest for a Lambrequin

   In late spring of 1861- Richmond, Virginia, became the Capitol of the Confederate States of America. With that title came responsibilities to have a new congress, government offices and  a President. Jefferson Davis was elected to do that job. Davis and his wife, there children and various members were housed in the newly purchased Confederate White House, at the corner of 5th and K Street. The previous owner had just added a third floor and redecorated the interior of the home. He sold the house and the furniture for $43,000.00. to the Richmond City authorties - which then rented it to the Confederate Government as an executive mansion. Davis and his 35 year old wife, Varina and there children made this there new home for the next 4 years. The house was made into a museum in 1890, only a few years after the war. Mrs. Davis was of much help with this project. Today it is one of the most intact Historic Homes in America. I used this house as my Bible when restoring ,My Old Historic House.

Mrs. Jefferson Davis
The Confederate White House mantle and Lambrequin made by Mrs. Davis that inspired me to make mine.
The  Confederate White House.
Another  Lambrequin, made by Mrs. Davis at the Confederate White House.

     When I  visited the Confederate White House Museum many years ago, I  was taken by the wonderful needlepoint Lambrequins that were on the fireplaces. They were all hand stitched by Mrs. Davis and were still hanging there after all these years. To make a long story short, I wanted a Lambrequin for my house. So I went on a quest to find one. I looked in antique shops, on the internet,called pickers in Europe, but was not able to find any. Luck was with me, when I went to an antique show in Chicago and  found an old clock shelf Lambrequin. Being affordable, I bought it and decided to use it as a pattern and make my own.
   For those of you who do not know what a lambrequin is: Webster Dictionary defination is: a kind of pendent, scarf or covering attached to the fireplace to protect the mantle  from heat and smoke. An ornament or short decorative hanging from a shelf or fireplace mantle. Sometimes known as a cornice, pelment or valance.
    Opulent Victorian Houses of the Antebellum period had such decorations on there mantles, most often hand made by the house owners. They would purchase a pattern or design ,from a mail order source, usually in Europe and needlepoint was the most often used method used. Some were made from fabric that matched the rooms curtains and  furniture.

The antique clock shelf Lambrequin that I copied to make my Lambrequin.

   For my Lambrequin, I drew the pattern on graph paper, using the piece that I had found as a pattern. I made a chart for all the colors and worked them one at a time.  Much like counted cross stitch is done.The background was all done last. After weeks and weeks of counting stitches, the Lambrequin was still not long enough for my mantle. I could not force myself to do one more block. So, I decided to make the middle one different. When all the needlepoint stitches were done, the edges were finished out with black bias tape, turned under and hand stitched to the back. I used a black cording to finish it off and highlighted it all with tassels. I did the needlepoint using the basket weave  stitch, it does not distort the canvas so much, so very little blocking was needed.

The center block that I designed and made different.

    Someday, 100 years or so from now, I hope some one will be inspired by my Lambrequin , like I was by Mrs. Davis's. I hope it will be still hanging on the mantle, I made it for. I know as long as I own this house, it will be,
    My Lambrequin is on the mantle in the Gentleman's parlor. I designed the curtains for this room to match. They were all hand made by my dear sweet sister. I used the same pattern for the overall design and hand  trimmed them  with satin cords and tassels.
    I wish you could come by sometime soon for a tour and see the Lambrequin.I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a Kiss.

Close up of the needlepoint Lambrequin I hand made.
The center block I made and altered the pattern from the original I found.

The curtains I designed, made by my sister, to match the Lambrequin.

A view showing the Lambrequin on the mantle and the curtains in the Gentlemen 's parlor.


Akissfromthepast said...

i love your porcelain statues! :) wonderful couple.
and these self textile is great too!

Stacy Leigh said...

Really interesting Richard! They sure put a lot of hours into making those. Very beautiful!!

Priscilla said...

Your talents continue to delight and amaze me.

Anyes K. Busby - Studio Vignette Fine Art said...

Hello Richard,
I'm astounded! Like 'The Tailor of Glouster' you must have little mice working for you. Such fine work - beautiful.

Pamela Gordon said...

That is beautiful needlework Richard. I like that you designed the center piece differently, almost like a crest. Pamela

Marcia said...

Your lambrequin is delightful, and is clearly the product of many many long hours. It completes your mantle so beautifully.

xinex said...

I learned something again, Richard, thanks! I love how your lambrequin has a similar shape to your fireplace screen. Beautiful!...Christine

Entertaining Women said...

I'm in awe that you charted the canvas for your lambrequin. I spent years as an artist designing custom needlepoint canvases. I spent many years as a mad stitcher. The center swag that you designed is really my favorite. It leads the eye to the wallpaper border beautifully. You've created a true treasure! Thanks for inviting us for a peak. Cherry Kay

Rhissanna said...

Oh Richard, you're just amazing! The lambrequin is simply gorgeous and the central panel just makes it perfect. You're so talented and hardworking. Have you considered making the needlepoint pattern for sale? I'm sure there's a lot of interest in putting an original design into a Victorian house and 19th century lambrequins are hard to find, as you found.

Curtains in My Tree said...

A man with many talents for sure. Is there anything you can't do? for that grand house? The lambrequin and the curtains sister made for you are so special
I had no idea what they were called .Just thought they were fire place scarfs

so glad people are responding to your newspaper article and I was looking for the new Victorian Homes magazine at Barns & Noble over the weekend. It's not here yet

Poppy @ With a Dash of Color said...

That's a new word for me, Richard:)Thanks for the definition! And this is really exquisite! It looks so beautiful, the colors and the needle point are a work of art for future generations to preserve and enjoy. You've created a masterpiece,indeed! You are your sister, both are incredibly talented:)The valances she made looks gorgeous! Thanks for stopping by and leaving me such an endearing comment. I'm following you now through GFC and would love to have you follow me. Have a wonderful evening!~Poppy @ With a Dash of Color

Bohemian said...

See I always learn something new when I come for a visit... I would have had no idea what those were called! I just scored a Moorish piece like a Persian Rug that fits around a door jamb and I have no idea what those are called either, but I fell in Love with them and recently found one during a Junquing forray for 80% less than they're selling at the Import Shops, I was Delighted!!! Can't wait to hang it and Photograph it and have you take a look so you might be able to tell me what it is?

Thanks for stopping by for a visit, I Loved that Hat too... but way out of my budget. *sob*

Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

Olive said...

Richard, I had no clue. You are a font of information about your era of houses and I actually own an antebellum home (although it is falling apart). This piece is lovely and note I did not try to spell it. hugs, olive

Teresa@1800 Farmhouse Rd said...

Wow Richard, I am truly impressed! Soph and I would love to come by and take a tour, and get a sugar from Sissy girl!

Tete said...

You are so talented and I am simply amazed at all that you have done and are doing. God bless you for saving this house and all the history you have brought into her walls.
Love your newspaper article below. What a great read and I hope it brings you and Sissy more visitors.

It's Just Dottie said...

I love the history lesson.You have the most beautiful home!

victorian parlor II said...


You never cease to amaze me! Your lambrequin is goreous!!!



Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

Richard you would make someone a GREAT you cook and do windrows I'll marry you ha ha!! GREAT and fun post as always my dear friend..give Sissy some fur love for me..Hugs and smiles Gloria

Gloria said...

Greetings, Richard! I have seen comments from you on different blogs that I visit, and you are always so nice with the words you leave. :)
So I wanted to visit you myself. ;)
Your home looks beautiful and what a wonderful job you did on your Lambrequin... I had never heard of something like that! And you are so lucky that you have a loving sister to make your window coverings to match your work! You are blessed, and she is gifted in sewing (I can barely sew on a button). Well, it was nice meeting you, and I will visit again, you seem like a lovely person. And I would LOVE to meet your dog one day! LOL! I can tell that your doggie is much loved. :)

Heirloom treasures said...

Richard you are so clever to have stitched so beautifully. I'm sure it will be a treasure forever. Your parlour is a treasure in itself, so beautiful and as you know I love mirrors and yours is gorgeous.
:) jeanetteann

Jacque said...

OMG..I have crafted many cross-stitch projects so I know how much work you put into this needlepoint lambrequin! What a treasure to behold and an heirloom for certain!

Thanks for sharing. I love your home. I was born and raised in NE AR and love seeing "close" neighbors handiwork.

Have a wonderful week!

Anonymous said...

You are so clever, Richard. I had no idea what a Lambrequin was until I read your very informative post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

Just beautiful! I love how you always educate me too! see u soon.

Unknown said...

Love It! Great post

Unknown said...

Love It! Great post

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rhissanna's comment. Why don't you sell your lambrequin pattern or design one slightly different for sale? I have looked in antiques shops for lambrequins without any luck. No one has any and most people have never heard of them. At least where I live.

I've done so much counted cross-stitch that I don't mind making a chart for myself, but I think the real challenge lies in getting the size and proportion of each section correct. And that, of course, depends on the length of the mantel.

Perhaps sometime you wouldn't mind sharing the width or dimensions of your lambrequin along with the length of your mantel? I could work out the ratios for mine from there.

Also, how do you attach it to your mantel?

See? I want ALL your secrets!


Divine Theatre said...

You are so very talented...and you have such a kind and generous and talented sister. The lambrequin you created will be here long after all of us are gone So lovely!

Kisses to my dear Sissy!


Sea Witch said...

Hello Richard. Love Love Love this post. Lambrequin, how I adore this type of historical needlework. You did a faboosh job on it. I do a lot of canvas work and appreciate hearing that you produced this with the basketweave stitch. so many folks don't realize that this only midly distorts if at all. Your work is amazing. so glad you shared this with all of us.

Alison @ The Polohouse said...

Richard, Richard, Richard!

Have I told you lately how AWESOME YOU ARE?????

Oh my heavens.... you MADE that?
I did not even know they had a name!

You are so true to your home's character and it's period. Brilliant!

We must meet... someday.
I am your biggest fan.


Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

As always your posts are such a delight!! So informative and your mantle and everything on it is breath taking!!
The needlework piece is beyond comparision to anything I have ever seen!
You are amazing, kind Sir!!


Ivy and Elephants said...

Hi Richard,
I just love learning something new, and you never disappoint! I can't believe that you made these stitch by stitch!? You are amazing!
We'd love to have you share this at WIW, they are fabulous!
Patti said...

Such a lot of work-are you blind now from all that stitching? It is a beautiful piece though and I do love those curtains and curtain rods!Give Sissy a kiss.

gertie @ The Old Block House said...

I'm always amazed at the treasures that you share with us. The lambrequin is so beautiful. Your work is so lovely.

CEO Lisa Anne - L.A said...


You are very creative and your home is spectacular. Love, love your historical home! Your Lambrequin is so lovely...alot of time must have went into creating your masterpiece. I'm certain it will be around for 100 years from now! Hope you will visit Magnolia Cottage. I'm your newest follower.


lvroftiques said...

First Richard I can clearly see the inspiration you garnered from Mrs. Jefferson Davis....The style and colors are so like yours! Second I'm bowing to your needlepoint abilities my friend! I know what a labor of love that lambrequin must have been for you, having done some needlepoint myself...And many pieces never finished from the tedium.*winks* It's gorgeous! I'm with Janice...Is there anything you can't do? Lol! I hope your dog walker brings back that key to ya...And WAY more importantly Ms Sissy girl! *winks* She needs to be there with that kiss waiting for me! I'm blowing one to both of you right now *smack*
And Richard why oh why would you sell that dinner bell? It's so YOU! Vanna

Gloria said...

Richard! I'm back! And I'm your newest Follower. And I STILL can't believe all the work you put into that piece. I re-read and looked at the post again, and I don't think I could even do one block... So you should be commended. You must have a lot of PATIENCE to complete that whole thing. You also must NOT be a Leo. LOL! (As I am -- NO patience.) Well, you put out that invite, so I will be there next Tuesday, please meet me at the airport. And I will bring a biscuit and toy for Sissy. --Only kidding. ;)

Liz@ HomeandGardeningWithLiz said...

We learn something new everyday! I never heard of a Lambrequin before! You did a marvelous job of making yours and I rather like the center piece being different. It makes a statement! Your sister did a wonderful job on the window treatments too!

Mrs. Cherry Heart said...

Richard, its me again! I am devouring your blog. Loving every thing I see and read!
That needlepoint is amazing. I would never take on a project that big because I know me and I would never finish it. Lol
I would love if your darling sister would share some details and advice on how she made your window treatments. I would love some in my front parlor.
Thank again, smiles,
Dolly's Cherry Heart

PharaohKingZ said...

Richard, I have been looking for a mantel Lambrequin for a long time. Like you, I am a Victorian enthusiast. Your colors are beautiful, they are what I would have picked for my own. I didn't realize Lambrequins were so hard to find. I have been trying to think of ways to make one. Yours is the most beautiful one I have ever seen. Please consider putting the pattern for sale. Sincerely, Dianne Tudor 2/15/16.