May 28th, 2007


Introduction to Goldwork

On Saturday I did the first of the Embroidery Now classes that I've signed up for: Introducing Goldwork with Flo Collingwood. Flo was young and enthusiastic and an excellent teacher, also very good at threading needles which was handy since we were working with No. 12 needles which had very small eyes.

Goldwork isn't a technique that I've been tempted to try before since it seems very intimidating and not something I'd like to do first time on my own. However I would certainly feel confident about attempting a simple piece now - as long as it involved a lot of the same threads we worked with :-)

The object we were creating in the class was a heart-shaped lavender bag, about five inches high which most if us actually finished with a little help from Flo on quick finishing. The pattern was 8 vertical lines surrounding a small stylised flower.

The first line was couching over doubled Japanese thread, then we laid another line of Japanese thread butted up next to it and set the couching stitches halfway between the previous line of stitches to create a brick effect. The second line only went two thirds down, which gave us the opportunity to try 'plunging' the threads with a large chenille No. 18 needle. We also couched another single line of Japanese thread and one of Rococo.

Then we moved on to couching pearl purl which is a tightly coiled thread which you pull before using to slightly extend the coils. This means the couching threads disappear into the purl so you just see the purl. A similar effect was achieved with the twist thread where we stitched up behind the twist (which is like a rope in construction) and then down between one of the three strands of the twist, leaving the twist as the only thing visible.

The flower was created with a circle of pearl purl, around some yellow felt which we'd already stitched onto the background linen. Then we cut pearl purl into chips a couple of millimetres long, and attached those to the felt as if they were beads - sewing a thread through the middle. This was the most fiddly and time-consuming part of the process. We finished off the flower with stem stitch and a few lazy-daisy stitches.

The stem stitch is a good example of how excellent the class was since Flo showed us a technique that produced a regular and well-slanted line. A little tricky to master at first but I really liked the finished result when I got the hang of it. And the teaching was like that all the way through, with good explanations where you could immediately see how it turned out.

Finishing off was just attaching the linen fabric with the goldwork onto a green calico backing and stuffing it with lavender. It's obvious that the finished article isn't perfect but it displays the goldwork well as a reference. The ambiance of the class was nice, with everyone (7 of us, and Flo) sitting around stitching and chatting. We used the meeting room at the Quaker Meeting House which was comfortable, but could do with a bit more light when it's overcast, but the organisers are going to arrange more next time. And, of course, there's a lovely garden to sit in and have a packed lunch. I would like to take nearly all the Embroidery Now classes, but am doing things each weekend they're running. However I am going to the one in October which will involve some more goldwork.

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