The gold couching is going in slowly on this current project. The sky background is worked in long satin stitch, with flat silk, in a gradiant of blues. Over this, I’m couching gold passing.
While I like goldwork, and I do like the effect of the gold couched over the silk, this evening I’m just not too enthused over my efforts. Perhaps this is because it is so much couching!
I still need to straighten out a few of the lines. I’ll do this with a laying tool or melore, just nudging them into place a bit. The most tedious part of this type of work is securing the gold after it has been plunged to the back. Different instructors advise on doing this whole plunging thing differently. In Tanja Berlin’s instructions, she says to plunge after the gold has been couched. In Ruth Chamberline’s Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork, she says to plunge as you go. For the majority of this, I plunged my threads to the back as I went, catching them in the couching stitches to secure them. In the smaller spaces, though, I found it easier to couch the gold, leaving the ends lying on the front of the work, and then plunging them after the gold was couched. But then comes the most tedious part of all! Securing the gold after plunging it!! The left side of the design should go faster, though, as there aren’t as many small broken-up spaces.
Here’s a side view, so that you can see the “gleam” of the gold, which you don’t get from a straight-on shot. If the light is right, it does gleam straight on, a little bit. But from the side, it really shows up.
The gold really tones down the sky – almost too much – but I don’t think I will be able to judge the overall effect until the entire piece is finished.
The technique, by the way, is called Italian Stitch, which I first learned about in Lucy Mackrille’s book, Church Embroidery and Church Vestments. This book is a rare old gem, fetching prices up to $125 on Amazon and ABE Books. It’s hard to come by, but if you are interested in church embroidery, it really is a wonderful resource. I haven’t seen this technique by this name in any other book, although I’m certain it must have been rather frequently used in different church embroidery projects. In Lucy’s book, she used this technique on an Agnus Dei design as well, which gave me the idea in the first place. She does the entire background, though, including the grassy hill, in flat silks couched over with gold. The only things not couched in gold are the banner and the lamb. Her design also lacks the book at the base of the quatrefoil. And her design is smaller – probably about 8″ square, tops.
So, there’s my update for now. Hopefully, I’ll get the gold done this week so I can move on to more colorful aspects of the design.
If you want to see the progress of this project, you can check out the following phases: