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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Reader’s Embroidery: Goldwork Rose


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Here’s a real treat: a beautiful example of goldwork embroidery, highlighted by a shaded couching technique called Or Nué. Margaret C. sent along a photo of this recently finished project, along with some information about it (and permission to share it with readers!). I think you’ll be impressed – it’s a real work of art!

There’s quite a variety of goldwork threads (real metal) used in the project: there’s purl, pearl purl, gold passing, check purl, and rococco, as far as I can tell.

Reader's Embroidery: Goldwork Rose

The petals of the flower are worked in Or Nué and surrounded by pearl purl. Or Nué is a couching technique, where colored thread is used to couch gold passing threads. To achieve a shaded look, the couching threads are placed close together, and when you want more gold to show through (and the area to be less shaded), the threads are spaced further apart. This is so nicely done! The base of the petals are shaded really well!

Reader's Embroidery: Goldwork Rose

You can see here a beautiful example of s-ing. This is a technique accomplished with purl, which are stitched on in a manner similar to stem stitch. When stitching purl, you cut it to the size you want and then sew it on like you would a bead, except that the purl “bead” is maleable, so it bends and curves easily. It’s a difficult technique, because purl tends to “crack” sometimes, leaving kinks in the gold. The s-ing here is so nice and even, and it looks terrific!

The shape of the leaves is accomplished with couched passing thread (a double row), and then the leaf is outlined in rococco, which is a kind of kinked and wavy passing thread.

Reader's Embroidery: Goldwork Rose

At the base of the flower, you see a technique called “chipping” or “chipwork.” That’s what’s filling the inside of the sepals, which are outlined with pearl purl. The chipwork here is done with check purl, which is made like regular purl, but faceted, so it glints and sparkles. The check purl is cut into small “beads” and sewn down randomly to fill the area.

You can also see, in the photo above, gold leather which is probably padded underneath then sewn down. Margaret said this was really difficult – and I can imagine she’s got holes in her fingers from it!

You can also see the stem covered with purl – again, cut like long beads and sewn over the stem area, which is probably padded with a bundle of waxed yarn, couched onto the fabric. The purls are sewn over the waxed yarn at an angle. This is another tricky technique – if the purls are too short, they don’t go flush down to the ground fabric; if they’re too long, when you pull your thread through, they “crack.”

Reader's Embroidery: Goldwork Rose

And, finally, the masterpiece! Isn’t it beautiful? I was so pleased that Margaret sent the photo along! The project is a testimony to perseverence and precision! Very, very nice!

Thanks, Margaret!

I’m always keen to see what everyone else is up to! If you want to send photos along, don’t hesitate to contact me, and I’ll e-mail you back. AOL users: My return e-mail always bounces back, so if you have an alternate e-mail address, please send it! Thanks!


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(6) Comments

  1. Mary, thanks for showing us Margarets stunning goldwork and for explaining the techniques used.

    Margaret, this is stunning work. I was impressed just looking at it, but when Mary explains what is involved, double that!


  2. Thank you so much for all the kind words and especially to Mary for the wonderful write-up.

    I really enjoyed stitching this piece. It was a challenging and engaging effort and I learned a lot! I was both relieved and sad when I finished. 🙂

  3. Hello,
    this piece is gorgeous…what techniques are used here? if i want to learn how to create this type of work, do you have any suggestions of where to look?

    thank you,

  4. I know I’m years late on this post, but I just wanted to add how stunning this work is! It is truly awe inspiring to see such detailed craftsmanship. I could stare at this for hours.

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