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After the 8 a.m. service on November 21, 2020, the Eucharistic Minister noticed a hole in the corner of the green frontal. It was later determined that a chipmunk had chewed the silk at the edge of the altar. Since the frontal was to be switched to white for Christ the King the following Sunday, the green frontal was put aside and photos taken of the damage.

Barbara Nichols takes frontal home for repair

 What to do? First call was to Bryan Marshall of J. Wippell & Co. Ltd. to see if it was possible to get a swatch of the green Tudor Rose silk to use in a repair. This green set had been purchased in 1965 when the church was built. Fortunately, he located a piece — “the last of that fabric.” 

The next contact was to Donna Anderson (NAGA Board Member) who put us in touch with Sherry Garman (Diocese of Olympia). The emailed photo and explanation of our issue brought a quick reply with a detailed approach how to tackle a repair. It sounded just right, but very complicated for the average needle-plier. 

Detail of Repair, showing how well the pattern was marched

We called Barbara Nichols, the Directress of the Ecclesiastical Vestment & Embroidery Guild (EV&EG) in the Diocese of New Jersey. She was an attendee at the Austin Triennial. Her small team in the Diocese meets monthly at St. Paul’s Church in Westfield, New Jersey, to teach and learn ecclesiastical embroidery and create new or repair existing vestments and paraments as requested by individuals or parishes. To contact Barbara about a vestment or parament need, call 908-420-9679. 

Barbara immediately agreed to come to St. John on the Mountain to look at the damage and see what might be done. After a short meeting to figure out an approach, she offered to do the work for us. Barbara took the frontal with her that day to work the repair on her dining room table. Within a week she had skillfully repaired the hole with a perfect pattern match and reinforced backing needed at the corner position. 

On the Second Sunday after Epiphany (January 17, 2021) our newly repaired green frontal returned to the altar. With thanks and amazement at the responsiveness and knowledge of embroiderers. Help is indeed out there!

Jane Mercer, Church of St. John on the Mountain, Bernardsville, New Jersey

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