A-Z of Goldwork with Silk Embroidery was first published by Country Bumpkin in 2008, and that’s when my review below was written.
The book has recently been republished (2015) by Search Press, making it available more affordably to a wider audience.
The cover below is for the newly published A-Z of Goldwork with Silk Embroidery, but the contents of the book haven’t really changed. There are, I believe, a few minor corrections in the new 2015 edition, but other than that, the book is full of the same stellar instructional content. It’s a terrific book, suitable for beginners and beyond in goldwork and silk embroidery, and definitely a treasure you want to add to your needlework reference library!
In case you’ve got an older edition of the book, or you’re looking for a used edition, this is what the old cover looked like:
And now, for the review!
Guess what? I really love this book!
First of all, like the other books in the A-Z series, this book is full of photos – over 650 step-by-step photos on different goldwork techniques and silk embroidery techniques. The bulk of the book is goldwork, and the instructions are written and photographed in a way that makes what is a more complicated embroidery technique accessible to practically any level of embroiderer.
What I especially like in the book:
1. The section on starting and finishing: there’s a thorough going-over of different techniques for applique. The book details how to work the embroidery (for example, on a linen ground) then cut it out and apply it to ground fabric. This is really helpful, especially if you’re interested in historical needlework or ecclesiastical embroidery. The photo instructions clarify different ways of achieving a professional finished edge…. very, very nice! I love this section.
2. The book covers thoroughly different methods of padding – another area of great use to the historical or ecclesiastical embroiderer. Padding over card, felt, and other material (such as string) is covered thoroughly.
3. Step-by-step pictures of S-ing with purls over pailettes… and S-ing in general.
4. Clear photos (and options) for couching twists.
5. And wow – a pretty thorough section on Or Nue, with side boxes of excellent tips for mastering this exquisite technique.
6. A thorough section on goldwork filling techniques.
7. A thorough section on different ways of working with purl – including all types of fillings and different stitches that can be worked with purl.
The book is full of information besides the above points, but those are the topics in the book that I like best.
There’s a section at the front of the book that covers the different types of metal threads, as well as the tools necessary for goldwork. I’ve found this information in other books, too, but hey – it’s nice to have all the needful information in one book!
Scattered throughout the book are stunning examples of goldwork – photos that will make your mouth water!
In the back of the book, there’s a nice design gallery, with instructions for the various projects featured there, from a beautiful golden butterfly, to a strawberry pincushion, to the gorgeous flower border that’s featured on the cover of the book.
There are several other designs and projects featured here, and they all have patterns, supply lists, and instructions. It’s a great section for finding a good goldwork project if you’re just delving into goldwork, or for getting the inspirational juices flowing, if you want to design you own project.
There’s also a nice index in the back of the book, which is always helpful.
The section on silk embroidery covers the basics of silk work as it would be combined with goldwork – so you get individual stitches, and you also get techniques, such as silk shading.
This is just a small section of the book, though, so don’t expect in-depth information on techniques like thread painting. You’d find better information on that subject, for example, in the A-Z of Thread Painting, or in Clare Hanham’s Beginner’s Guide to Silk Shading.
Still, the section in this book is useful, and it fits, because it addresses the typical types of silk embroidery often found with goldwork.
A little glitch in the book: on pages 10 and 11 there’s a little editing problem. The instructions for making a velvet board (for cutting your metal threads) are repeated under the heading “how to prepare a sling” (for plunging threads). So the sling instructions aren’t there, but you will find them in the new edition.
Final analysis: Golly. I love this book. It’s at the top of my Favorites List! If you’re considering venturing into goldwork for the first time, this is the book to have. If you’ve ventured into goldwork, but want to expand your knowledge of the art, this is the book to have. If you’re an expert at goldwork… ok, fine, maybe you don’t need it! But… it’s a pretty darned good book for reference, I think.
Where can you find it?
The new (2015) Search Press re-print of this book (same book, different cover) can be found through the following book affiliates:
In the US, you can find A-Z of Goldwork with Silk Embroidery through Amazon.
Worldwide, with free shipping, you can find A-Z of Goldwork through Book Depository.
I think this book is a good investment, if you have even the slightest interest in goldwork embroidery.
If you don’t have it yet, get it!
Other Goldwork Books Worth Having
Here are a few other goldwork books I’ve reviewed that are worth having in your own reference library, if you love goldwork and want to learn it well:
Goldwork Techniques, Projects and Pure Inspiration by Hazel Everett
Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork by Ruth Chamberline