Michele Antiques

Beadwork Flowers – Are you squeamish?

I’ve had a few of these 19th century panels over the years, but recently found 2 that came from the same home. The dealer I purchased them from told me that they had never been used, hence them being in such fantastic condition. The colours are lavenders and greys, with deeper lilacs and reds, and although they have now both sold and gone to different homes, I was so very tempted to keep them.
Recently, whilst travelling on Eurotunnel, we were stopped and asked by officials if we minded being in a carriage with a blacked out van. The van was carrying a coffin and contents home for burial. It didn’t particularly bother us and so we were parked behind them, but I know some people would have asked to be moved.




The reason I ask about the squeamishness, is what these beadwork panels were used for.  These beautiful panels were used as decoration on the tops of coffins, and then gravestones.  It was a way of celebrating your loved one in a permanent way, as they are made from bound wire with tiny glass beads threaded into curvaceous flowers and scrolls.  So, not only do they have a dark history, but there is another thread to them that is interesting.  They were made in jails by female convicts which I assume was either part of their rehabilitation, or the way in which the prison made money.  So, can you appreciate the beauty of these fabulous items, or does their history disturb you?