About two and a half weeks ago, I received an invitation to come to Vienna. The invitation was from M. Maurer, the company that makes my gold threads (here's an earlier blog post about them). They were founded 160 years ago and they were throwing a party for their established customers. My husband and I decided to go as we felt really honoured by the invitation. And visiting Vienna is always a treat. Especially as the city happens to house one of the most important collections of medieval goldwork embroidery in the world: the Vestments of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Imperial Regalia. But first, let me tell you about the party.
It took place in Palais Niederösterreich in the heart of Vienna. The Palais started its life as a late-medieval townhouse of the noble family of Liechtenstein. Vaults in the basement and archaeological finds on display were a clear testament to its older history. Lots of important Austrian events took place in this building throughout its long history. Towards the end of the party, I shot a short video with my phone. The celebration took part in the beautiful baroque hall from 1570.
Apart from the party proper, M. Maurer had some additional actions planned for its guests. Firstly, there was a small exhibition with passementerie made by M. Maurer. Think tassels and military decorations. But, to us, the best part of the evening was the impromptu workshops organised by three of its employees. My husband and I opted for the workshop in which we were shown how to make knotted cuff links. These are in essence the same knots you often see on medieval alms pouches. This was so hard! Especially the start. And the lady showing us was VERY patient and sweet. I've always wanted to know how these intricate medieval knots were being made.
And I am going to leave you with a picture of a beautiful angel on the chasuble of the Order of the Golden Fleece. It is situated on the front of the chasuble. And whilst it can be accessed in the exhibition you seldom see this side in publications. The or nue on these pieces is absolutely stunning. The gold threads used are so very fine. And the silk embroidery on the faces is mind-blowing. The vestments were made around AD 1430-1440, probably in Brussels, Belgium.
We went to Vienna last week. And although we did a few of the touristy type things, I was especially keen on visiting the passementerie factory of M. Maurer founded in 1863 and suppliers to the Emperor's court (that's Sissi to you and me).
Only a few minutes on foot away from the main shopping street Mariahilfer Straße, lies a quiet road called the Kandlgasse. Through a green courtyard you enter a lovely hallway with many period features. Machines are humming while you climb to the first floor shop area.
The room is filled with braid trimmings, beads, ribbons, cuffs, tassels and uniform accessories. Nice old-fashioned pattern boards with different styles of machine embroidered lettering, badges and medal ribbons are also on display. However, no gold threads in sight. Luckily, the nice lady fetched some sample boards for me. And then I am a little confused...
Not only do they call the different threads different names to what I am used too. After all, that's to be expected given that I usually shop for gold threads in England and this is Austria. No, they even number them differently! Smooth purl #8 thus becomes Boullion glatt/glanz #11 fein. Since I didn't bring a sample, I had to pick my threads by eye. Mental note to self: do make an old fashioned sample card of the threads you have and defend it with your life. Or rather: bring it with you when shopping for gold threads.
The very good news is that Maurer still makes some threads and gold thingies not easily available to us embroiderers! And they are even prepared to custom make threads when you provide them with a sample. How cool is that?
Want to keep up with my embroidery adventures? Sign up for my weekly Newsletter to get notified of new blogs, courses and workshops!
Liked my blog? Please consider making a donation or becoming a Patron so that I can keep up the good work and my blog ad-free!