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Madeira Embroidery

Today I visited one of the main and oldest manufacturers and exporters of Madeira Embroidery, and I will tell you about the historical and cultural heritage of this beautiful Pearl of the Atlantic.

Globally known, the Madeira Embroidery is a manual work done by the highly capricious and skillful hands of the local embroiderers, who for some 150 years transpose the beauty of a singular embroidery to the fabric.

The pieces, true works of art, are inspired by the flowers and fruits of Madeira, all with elegance, refinement and purity.

The Wood Embroidery includes tableware, bedding, bath, children’s clothing and small pieces to give a gift, or to present themselves. Today we have not only the traditional embroidery, but also an embroidery of more modern and colorful designs.

Regardless of the type of art, the process is the same. This process comes from a long history and tradition, and that relies on the work of designers, pickers, embroiderers, washerwomen, wipers … until it reaches the customer’s hands. And that, despite having more than a century of existence, maintains the same authenticity in its process, which is totally handmade. The industry of this embroidery made a point of keeping the artisan work so as not to lose its genuineness and perfection. In addition, weekly the IVBAM – Madeira’s Institute of Wine, Embroidery and Handicrafts, makes a thorough control of the perfection and authenticity of the integral embroidery work, and only then the embroidery earn a seal of guarantee.

We currently have about 30 Madeira Embroidery companies in Madeira and the region, with the collaboration of about 3,000 dedicated embroiderers (my grandmother was one of them when I lived here).

Usually the embroiderers work at home and receive remuneration by points, so all embroidery has its points counted through a device called a curvimeter. At the visit I learned that normally a embroiderer receives € 20 for every 2 thousand embroidered stitches. Tablecloths have an average of 23,000 points and can take up to a year to complete and have an average value of € 2500. A value that can be considered high by most people, but simple in the face of the work of these embroiderers and the material used (Pure Linen from Belgium, Organdi from Switzerland and Pure Cotton from Portugal).

The most interesting, in my opinion, is that each piece is unique, as are many works of art, which makes Wood Embroidery even more special.

When you come to the Island, do not forget to visit Bordal (or another production company) and see how close our work is to our embroiderers. The visit is well worth it, not only for the various products that we find there, but also for the historical itinerary in the factory. Besides the friends who work there and make the whole visit even more special.

Bordal is located at Rua Dr Fernão Ornelas, nº 77, Funchal, very close to the Mercado dos Lavradores.

Text and Pictures: Dani Abreu Lacerda