From the Hills to the Factory!
As I have meandered my way through my trips to Madeira, I am now back onthe trail to finished goods! We started at the factory, went into the hills to visit the agent and her embroideresses, and now we are back at the factory again!
When the embroidered pieces come back to the factory with the agent, as you can imagine, they are not in pristine condition. They have been held by hand to be embroidered, and if it is a piece that has seveal different techniques, chances are that it has been handled by more than one embroideress.
The first thing that is done is to have it inspected to see if all of the embroidery has been not only completed, but completed to the high standards of Madeira embroidery (more about the final inspection in another post......). Often, there will be a few touch ups made. I mentioned in an earlier post that the embroideresses at the factory are considered to be the best of the best. If anything needs to be done to the embroidered pieces that come in to make sure they are up to par, the factory embroideresses are the one to do it.
You can see 2 of them here doing touch up work (and they were 2 of our teachers on both of my trips to Madeira). They look at the embroidered piece and rework anything that is not up to par.
Once the piece is completed, it is off to the laundry. The blue dye has to be removed, so the pieces are soaked in a solution that will loosen the dye. It is then scrubbed, and when I say scrubbed, I mean SCRUBBED! We were standing with our mouths hanging open when we watched them! They have long cement sinks with grooves int he side, kind of like an old washboard. The women scubbed the embroidered pieces against the side of the sinks until the pieces were completely clean.
Then they were rinsed in clean water and then run through a hand wringer (my grandma had an old washing machine that had a swing ringer onthe top with a handle, just like the one they used in the factory).
After the washing/ringing process, they were taken to the ironing tables (you can see them in the background of this picture). The pieces were pressed dry, and NO starch was used.
After they were ironed, they were cataloged and then taken to the Madeira Institute of Embroidery where they were inspected.
Once they retruned they were packaged and shipped. (Wish they were going to me!).
Hope you are finding this interesting! More about the Madeira Institute of Embroidery next time!