Victorian Beaded Cushion

1 in stock

I am not entirely sure what this piece of embroidery was intended to be before I made it into this exquisite decorative pin pad or small cushion. The shape of the embroidery was somewhat eccentric – I even wondered if it was intended to be a chair seat!

The design is lustrous in strong dark colours with beautiful beads used to create the flowers and some of the leaves. It measures 10in across (25.5cm) and is made up with a piped edge and linen back.


1 in stock

1 in stock


The story of this little treasure

I bought this as a flat piece of stitching in 2016 on a visit to Berlin. I believe it began life in Germany in the mid 1800s at the height of the Berlin wool fashion. Berlin was an important centre for dyeing in the early 19th century, where the new aniline dyes led to the creation of a range of wool colours which were really quite startling – the Victorians loved them!

Of course, needlewomen wanted inspiration for these new wools and so the chart industry was born. As a genre, they early charts are very distinctive with the choice of striking colours and a complete lack of backstitch used in the patterns. They were often used for bead embroidery as well as cross stitch. You can see how well the two mix in this cushion.

I always find it astonishing to think that Berlin charts were hand-painted. The chart would be printed with symbols and then the chart painted colour-by-colour using a special square brush and a paint similar to gouache. The chart industry was big business and thousands of different designs were produced, mostly featuring floral motifs, garlands and bouquets. These woolwork charts first came into Britain in about 1810.

Berlin charts are now very collectable and sought after by both dealers and embroiderers, as works of art in their own right. Over the years I have collected a few hand-painted Victorian charts and thoroughly enjoy them framed on the wall!