Beaded / Needlepoint / Petitpoint

MPF Conservation restores, conserves and preserves all types of textiles in their studio in Portland Oregon, this page discusses beading, needlepoint and petitpoint items.

Right, detail from a beaded needlepoint pillow.

What is the difference between needlepoint and petitpoint? Needlepoint, also known as canvas work, is covering a canvas with counted stitches; modern needlepoint comes on a canvas ground that is made for only that purpose. Petitpoint is similar but is done on a much finer scale. The stitch used is called a tent stitch. The latter was popular in France in the 17th and early 18th centuries for screens and smaller pieces of upholstery, and we have a lovely example of this below in our Victorian Firescreen circa 1850.

Most beaded items are on petitpoint or needlepoint pieces which is why we placed these mediums together.

Beaded Items

Yves Telemak Beaded Textile: Ezilí Dantor circa 2000

Created by Yves Telemak (1955-), Yves Telemak (Telemac or Telemaque) – Indigo Arts.

Ezilí Dantor is a Drapo Vodou, or a handmade flag, in this case depicting a religious icon, also called an iwa or loa, a spirit. Ezilí Dantor (or Erzulie Dantó, Ezili Danto, or Ezili Danto’) is the senior spirit in Haitian Vodou, and a goddess of love, personifying womanhood. To me the image looks very much like the Madonna and Child.

Drapos are handmade, were originally embroidered, and now are decorated with bright shiny sequins and beads, creating a colorful flag. Historically, in the 17th century they were a beaded tradition, but likely go back even further in West Africa. Drapo vodou artists were inspired by Yoruba beadwork, and even Catholic vestments. In the 19th century they became more flag-like and were often dedicated to spiritual icons. Modern flag artists completely cover the fabric with sparkling colorful beads and sequins. The use of sequins is said to have originated when Joseph Fortine witnessed Afro-Brazilian samba dancers in a Carnival parade; their costumes were covered in sequins! He made his first drapo with sequins in 1943, and taught his technique to other artist, including Yves Telemak.

Yves Telemak is the son of a vodou priest and began his apprenticeship with Joseph Fortine at a young age. His drapo vodou are distinct in that he added wide borders in complex geometric patterns, departing from his elders, and though the central motifs are often traditional iwa, he creates other icons when asked by a client.

This piece was in excellent condition and our client brought it to us before sequins were lost. We assessed it, finding many areas where beads and sequins were loose. We resecured loose beads and sequins, and after vacuumed it thoroughly through a hepafilter.

For more information read our blogpost:

Disassembly, above; below, one side prepped for reparation.
Bottom row, an example of the beading process.

Beaded Needlepoint Victorian Tea Cosy circa 1875

The tea cosy came to us whole, shown right. We were hired to repair the beading on both sides of the cosy.

A tea cosy is a decorative serving object which you slip over a teapot to keep your tea warm on the table.

We disassembled and removed the two sides of the beaded/needlepoint exterior, line one above.

We mounted the two sides to two different frames for beading, on top of hempcloth so that while Kate was repairing the beading it would be tacked into a stable fiber, not the disintegrating historic needlepoint grid.

The process of beading was to first stabilize the existing beads, then move to infill, row three above.

For more information, there are several posts on process:

Before, above, and after below.
Click on images to see the entire image.

Victorian Needlepoint / Beaded Angel circa 1850

This beaded needlepoint came from our first client after moving our studio to Portland. It was a lovely sentimental piece which was badly damaged.

Before conservation you can see missing bits and rips. Kate first stitched the grid rips closed, shown on the backside top row above. The grids had to line up after stitching.

Bits of yarn were missing, and these bits were impossible to match, though Kate carefully removed a line of yarn to infill one large hole in the field, shown left. She discussed this with our client, and together they decided that she would place clear beads in that area, making it almost look like stars in this field. Beading took several weeks.

When completed, it was given back to a happy client who framed it for her family. For more information and images, go to our blogpost:

Needlepoint / Petitpoint Items

Before, left, and after right.  

Victorian Firescreen Textile circa 1850

This playful Victorian firescreen is a family heirloom, created from petitpoint, needlepoint, and cross-stitching, and was quite vibrant when new. Originally it might have attached to a wooden or metal stand, standing in front of a fireplace to shield the family from too much direct heat. It was so dirty we did not even notice the little boys bright red head behind the bushes at first!

The screen suffered from smoke and soot; we gently cleaned and blocked the it. In this instance infill was performed after cleaning so we could properly match the colors, and also, the infill was not structural so the screen could be cleaned without worry of damage. For more information on that process:

Before, left, and after right and above.  

Francis Normandin’s Bell Hanger circa 1935

Frances Normandin, great-grandmother to our clients, designed and created the needlework bell hanger as a gift for her 15-year-old son,  Fred Louis Normandin, Jr., or “Bub.”  Fred was named after his father, the first grocer in the Mount Tabor area. 

Frances was born in 1897 and grew up in Portland, attending St. Mary’s Academy, where her artistic talent began to show itself.  She was a gifted painter, and worked in woodcarving on top of the mediums of beadwork and various kinds of needlework.  She lived to be 97 and was still making beaded bell ornaments right up until the end, even though she was legally blind.

Before, left, and after right.  

Family Nativity Scene circa 1844

The nativity scene was handed down through generations, but it was originally wrapped crudely around a frame and needed minor cleaning. Kate removed the piece from its frame and gently spot cleaned it. After cleaning and blocking, minor infill was performed. Kate attached it to hemp cloth for proper framing, and it was placed under glass to protect it for future generations. We could not expose more of the edges due to losses in the grid and fibers caused by the wrapping.