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Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Goldwork – Good Resources

 

Goldwork is embroidery with gold. Different types of gold are used. Generally, the gold has been “spun” or pulled into long, tiny thin wires, and then either wound around a central thread or coiled into a tiny spring shape. Other types of gold are sometimes employed – from gold spangles (almost like sequins) to gold “plate” (broader strips of thin gold). Goldwork has a long history, beginning in the Far East and spreading into the West, where it became especially popular during the Middle Ages and later as decoration on liturgical (Church) vestments.

Probably the height of skill in goldwork history was the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance when a technique called “or nue” became popular. This technique involves couching metal thread (“passing thread”) with colored silk, varying the distance of the stitches to provide shading on the image. You can see a gorgeous example of Or Nue here, and another one here. Both are close-ups of vestments in excellent shape, the former depicting the Blessed Virgin and the latter depicting the Annunciation.

Goldwork eventually was also used to decorate the clothing of the wealthy and the uniforms of the military.

Today, goldwork is gaining in popularity again – people are using it to decorate clothing, handbags, and whatnot. It’s being revived as a hand-embroidery technique, a little challenging, but very rewarding. There are several good sources of information on goldwork, but the biggest problem is finding good thread, and, if you’re starting out, finding a source to help you along.

You can find some excellent goldwork kits to get you started in this exciting needle art from Tanja Berlin, who is located in Canada. She’s a designer featured in many publications, and she puts together a great goldwork sampler kit that will introduce you to goldwork techniques. She also has several other kits – even a few on Or Nue – that are really gorgeous. Here’s her goldwork page. Tanja also supplies those who purchase her kits with e-mail support, which is a great perk for the beginner. Note: shipping costs are pretty high, and shipping is rather slow from Canada. What you might save in the exchange rate, you will probably lose in shipping.

If you are really intrigued by goldwork and what to get started on something that will introduce you the variety of gold threads, I suggest Tanja’s goldwork sampler kit. It’s pricey, but it’s worth it. Besides, goldwork isn’t cheap – the threads are rather expensive, although you can buy gilt threads instead of the higher-content 2% gold. But try that sampler! It’s fun (I’ve worked it), and it will teach you basic goldwork techniques.

If you consider purchasing a book to help you get started in goldwork, there are quite a few available on the market, but not many that I really personally like. New Ideas in Goldwork by Tracy Franklin is probably my favorite so far. I’m really looking forward to the Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork (being published by Search Press), which will be released in December, 2006.

Where to Find New Ideas in Goldwork

You can find New Ideas in Goldwork by Tracy Franklin through Amazon in the US.

Worldwide, with free shipping, you can find New Ideas in Goldwork through Book Depository.

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(7) Comments

  1. You can find the real metal threads in the US! You can look at Kreinik’s website here. I’m not certain how much real gold is in their real metal threads, and, although I inquired, I never got a response. But I have ordered through them, and the service is good and delivery is quick. There are other retail shops in the US that carry real metal threads – if you’re in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, there’s a new shop called “Accomplishments” that just moved there from Ohio. According to the Accomplishments Shop website, they carry real metal threads. I’ve ordered from them online, as well, and received excellent service from a very knowledgeable staff.

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  2. Hi If you are looking for quality gold threads and kits I just found a new great website by Mary Brown in Australia. Her designs are wonderful and threads are all top quality english made threads. I am only just starting to do goldwork and found that she had some excellent beginner pieces. Her site is http://www.marybrowndesigns.com . There seems to be everything there you would need to start goldwork.

    JT

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  3. Hi, JT – I looked at her site this morning. Wow! She’s got some gorgeous kits. Thanks for the link! I’ll put the website in the resources page.

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  4. Alison Cole (from Australia)has written a new book on Goldwork called All That Glitters – it is a project based Goldwork book and has sections on requirements and techniques as well as the projects. It is well written and clear – with lots of diagrams a gorgeous colour photos – great for beginners or those with some experience. Her web site is http://www.alisoncoleembroidery.com.au and she sells kits and threads worldwide and is only an email or phone call away if you get stuck – she’s very helpful to us beginners – I’ve done two of her Goldwork projects and one of her stumpwork projects (all without help!) – Carmel

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  5. Alison Cole from Australia has written a book on goldwork called All That Glitters .It is a project based book and has sections on requirements and techniquesas well as the projects .It is well written and clear -with lots of diagrams and gorgeous colour photos – great for beginners or those with some experience .Her web site is http://www.alisoncoleembroidery.com.au and she sells kits and thread worldwide and is only an email or phone call away if you get stuck-she is very helpful to us beginners -i’ve done two of her Goldwork ptojects and one of her stumpwork projects .Carmel

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