Ecclesiastical banner with a lasting embroidered motif

Banners are traditional ecclesiastical ornamental products. With years of use, the cloth wears out and the traditional oil paintings crack and peel layers of colors. The company Ercigoj developed the eStitch technique, which allows us to transform oil paintings into embroidered artwork, which does not wear out with time, doesn’t crack or peel, while retaining the shine, colours and details through the decades of constant use. Cleaning and maintenance of a fully embroidered banner is much simpler compared to a banner with oil paintings.

Our company started out with the production of ecclesiastical embroideries, challices, chandeliers and other metal products for the Church.

The banner was traditionally decorated with a central motif in the form of an oil painting on canvas, sewn to the cloth of the banner. An oil painting, while in its own right an artistic piece, is not suitable for use on a banner, as the banner is often folded, twisted, rolled, which through the years causes damage on the oil paintings, cracks and peeling.
Restoration and conservation of old banners is possible, but experts recommend this for archival purposes. Conservation stops the further decay of the banner and retains the cultural heritage that the banner with its original oil painting represents. The restored banner should not be kept in use any longer, it should instead be archived and displayed (for example in a museum).

The experts, such as the academic restaurator Maja Banović, have their own opinion concerning old banners with oil paintings: “The main reason for the decay of banners is their improper storage. Several outside factors affect the quality of the preservation of the cloth and paintings: light, temperature changes, air humidity… A damaged banner is neither functional nor aesthetically suitable for use, and damages lower its artistic and cultural value. Oil paintings should be replaced with embroidered replicas, which are much less sensitive to outside factors.”

The new eStitch technique allows us to transfer the motif from an oil painting into embroidery, retaining all the color transitions, tiny details and smooth shading.
The embroidered painting is very suitable for use on a banner, as it can be bent, folded, rolled, even washed in a washing machine or soaked in the rain, without damaging the motif. The embroidered painting has a much longer lifespan compared to an oil painting.

We start the production of a fully embroidered replica by having the original banner scanned with a special non-contact scanner, used specifically to scan art, such as oil paintings. The high resolution of the digital scans is very important for our work, as it allows us to produce even the tiniest details.

The scanned images are then digitally retouched by accomplished artists. For the banner on these photographs, the digital restoration was done by Vladimir Leben, an established slovenian painter. The digital retouching is a difficult and time consuming work, as the artist must ‘fix’ every crack he notices on the digital image, and often has to paint anew whole portions of the oil painting, which were peeled off from the original through decades of use. The most demanding work is done on details such as faces, as the artist must imagine how the original looked like.

Ecclesiastical banners often have (in addition to the central oil painting) other ornamental motifs – most commonly embroidered, which frame the painting or decorate the banner’s edges. Our work in creating the replica is duplicating these motifs with exactly the same embroidery techniques and the same colors. As old banners usually come from the very beginnings of modern embroidery, we must forego the latest embroidery technology and use techniques that are as old as our company, for example the traditional chain stitch technique. We must also be very careful when selecting thread colors – only refreshing the colors slightly, to make the new banner look as the old one was, at the beginning.

When the digital restoration is complete, we use our eStitch technology to transfer the original motif into embroidery. The production of a typical ecclesiastical motif for a banner can take from one to two weeks, depending on the size and the amount of details. The end result is an embroidered painting with practically the same level of details as the original oil painting.

The final phase of the production of a new banner is sewing. We sew the embroidered painting on the main cloth, which is already ornamented with embroidered decorations, and tailor and sew together both sides of the banner. During this process, we also attach the golden fringes, which additionally enrich the banner and give it a proper frame. We also prepare the wooden and metal parts of the banner.

The finished fully embroidered banner is truly a piece of art and the pride of any church.