Trimming the Torah mantle

Most Torah mantles have some sort of trimming at the top. Most also have fringe at the bottom. Some of this decoration is there because the Torah is dressed sort of like the High Priest, the Kohen Gadol.

When I started making mantles though, I realized that some of the trim is there for functional reasons. Very often when you make the mantle, you pad the wooden frame and then and stitch the "skirt" to that padded frame. Inevitably that join will be imperfect. The trim at the top hides any lumps in the join.

Today I went trim shopping. This isn't an off the rack sort of a Torah mantle and I didn't want off the rack trim. Often people use upholstery trim. I didn't want to use just silver, because I thought it would look too cold. I wanted something that would pick up the colors that I had used. I also have a less than lovely join to hide so I needed a bit of width. I thought that if I layered standard trims I would get the look I wanted.

When I purchased the velvet for the mantle at Rosen and Chadick, they asked me to show them the finished piece, so that was my first stop. They loved seeing what I had done with their fabric. Then I walked over to 37th and 5th to the new home of Tinsel Trading. There are lots of trim stores in the district, but I went to Tinsel for a couple of reasons. First of all, since they have been in business for three generations, they have lots of vintage and antique stock. They have trims that you don't see anywhere else. I also go there because their staff has a good eye and good taste. The other nice thing about their staff is they don't try to oversell you. They don't try to get you to spend more than you are comfortable spending, and they don't sell you more than you need.

I was leaning towards some wonderful vintage silver ribbons. They showed me some fabulous silver fringe that was made out of "real metal". I don't exactly know what that means, but it looked like it was made out of thread-fine wire. It was beautiful, but a little icy looking.

Some fringe looked like it belonged on a stripper. Some looked to silly for a Torah mantle and some was just too somber. In the end we layered three different fringes, a sober blue bullion fringe, is backed by a turquoise beaded fringe..alone the turquoise was too flapper-ey but with the blue you get just a flash of sparkle, The fringe is topped by a header of dark blue beaded drops. There will be a bit of movement as the Torah is carried around.

For the top trim, a 1 1/2 inch wide soutache braid is topped with an embroidered ribbon with a chenille diamond motif in the center. I beaded the center of each diamond to tie the top decorative band to the beading in the mantle itself.

The beads are teeny, but you can see how it really makes the braid look prettier.

Next I need to attach the trim to the mantle.


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