Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (75) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Reader’s Embroidery: Goldwork Pansy


Amazon Books

You know I like goldwork and silk shading – they’re possibly my favorite embroidery techniques – but … wow… this piece makes everything I’ve done with goldwork look rather dull. It’s like the sparkling city cousin that the country mouse can’t hold a candle to! This bright splash of color and gold was an exercise in creative goldwork from a Royal School of Needlework course that Margaret took back in 2007.

The project is worked on a background of silk dupoini woven in purple and red. Predominantly, the purple shows up, but you can see the reddish highlights in the photo. It’s a gorgeous fabric!

Goldwork and silk shading pansy from Royal School of Needlework course, stitched by Margaret Cobleigh

I think the whole piece is beautiful, but the part of the piece that intrigues me the most is the bold leaf on the lower left, which is made out of gold kid leather. Rather than try to explain it myself, here’s Margaret’s description of the technique:

What was interesting was that we had a basic outline for the leaf and a piece of leather that was larger than the outline (at least at the top). Starting at the bottom we tacked down the leather to hold it in place. Then at the top we manipulated the oversized piece to fit within the design lines. This let us create the veins. So, everyone’s leaf was different, of course.

I love the leaf, with it’s bulging gold veins – and my hat’s off to anyone who would stitch it and not scream before it was over! Yeeeeesh. I don’t particluarly like stitching kid leather, but I’d like it even less if I had to manipulate it and squeeze it into an area! I think it turned out so pretty, though, that it’s sort of tempting to want to try something similar.

Here’s the finished project, framed up:

Goldwork and silk shading pansy from Royal School of Needlework course, stitched by Margaret Cobleigh

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Thanks, Margaret, for sending the photos! Margaret, by the way, is the one who designed the Golden Pomegranate project I stitched last fall.

When Margaret sent me these photos, I came to the realization of something that I find rather funny, and I’d love to hear what others have to say about the same subject! It went like this: Margaret sent me photos of her frame jobs on three gorgeous pieces of embroidery: the Golden Pomegranate (hers is matted in greens, with a gold frame), her goldwork rose, and this goldwork project featured here. When I saw the three framed, I thought, “WOW – wouldn’t those make a gorgeous set to hang together on a wall??!” And that’s when I realized something…

And this is what I realized: in my house, I have one tiny bird I embroidered that’s framed and hung. Other than that, I don’t have one finished thing that I’ve embroidered. Everything else I’ve done has been given away, or was made at the request of someone else.

Ok, wait – with the exception of my silly pillowcases and my goofy felt needlebook thingy. And, no, I don’t use the pillow cases myself.

My question is this: do you retain your work, or give it away? Are you fortunate enough to have nice embroidered things around your house? I just realized how nice that would be.

But how does one remedy that? I can’t exactly go snatching up the things I’ve given away. And I wouldn’t, anyway. Deep down, I wouldn’t want to. (Or wait – maybe deep down, I do want to….!)

I was thinking that a resolution of some sort could help solve this: each year, I could make at least one nice project for the house. It doesn’t have to be a big project or a major deal – just one nice something to be finished and framed.

Well, now that I’m thinking along those lines, I suddenly want to make another pomegranate or grab a silk shading project and ditch the whitework sampler!

Yeah. Thanks a lot, Margaret! 😉


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(10) Comments

  1. Wha a beauty!
    I remember very well your post with her goldwork rose – it was because of that I begun following your blog…

    I have very few things at home made by me – but my nieces and nephews have lots of them, and my sisters and my daughter and son.
    I have to begin doing more things for my grand daughters.

    And Mary congratulations – I have just read your articli on CQMag online! It is fascinating and seems so simple! 🙂 and a big thank you!

  2. I have a confession. Before I started doing goldwork a few years ago I didn’t tend to either finish off the pillow tops I’d stitched or frame the ‘picture’ pieces. (I have a big box of these embroidery-completed items.) I do have a couple of favourite pieces framed and/or finished, but not many.

    Once I started doing goldwork I found that I *had* to frame the finished works because they don’t store easily and they tarnish if you don’t get them behind glass or at least out of the air. I am somewhat mindful of this before I start a goldwork piece. If I don’t think there’s a reasonable chance that I will want to frame it I don’t do it.

    On a side note: I figured out a way to protectively store the golden pomegranate while I was teaching it last year. Notice that the pomegranate in Inspirations is not framed. It is what I’d call ‘temporarily mounted’ on one of those sticky mounting boards with some batting underneath. I then used an archival quality book dust jacket cover, covered the pomegranate and taped it up very well on the back in order to keep as much air out as possible. I just recently framed my first pomegranate (the one in Inspirations is the second one I stitched). It had no signs of tarnish at all and it was in the dust jacket cover for a year.

    The pomegranate worked well with the dust jacket cover. Unfortunately, the purple pansy and the goldwork rose would be problematic because they have crushable elements (especially the smooth purl). So, although you could cover them carefully in the dust jacket it would be difficult to store them unless you made sure that nothing would press up against them.

  3. Mary,

    I also enjoyed your CQ Mag article. I saved it for later so I can consult it, as I haven’t tried goldwork yet.

    I have two things hanging on my walls that I made and a few CQ pillows. But my family and friends have lots of things that I’ve made. I figured out that the joy I get is from doing the project and once it’s done, I don’t mind giving it away, however, I have learned to document – take pics – of the things I do before I give them away. I didn’t even used to do that.

    Cindy B

  4. That is simply gorgeous! And the framing is perfect for the project. I give away everything — but that is going to change! Do you have any tips for mounting/framing?

  5. I tend to give away a lot of what I make.
    Every couple of years I say “whoa – I have nothing myself to show what I’ve been doing”, and decide to do a piece just for me.
    That was part of the reason behind me doing my sampler – no way am I going to decide to give that away, since it’s going to take such a long time to make!

  6. Mary, this is stunning! I just love popping over to see what you’ve been up to. Sadly, I don’t comment as often as I should.

  7. These are lovely! I can’t figure out how the veins are done, but I love them all….and to answer the question, I keep some and give away some!

  8. Hi mary, I know your dilemma, I quite often ‘do’ things for others, or give things away because someone, less capable than myself, has admired my work Not his year!!

    This pansy is beautiful, thank you, and Margaret, for sharing. I think I would rather use a couching stitch for the leaf, but it does look nice in the gold kid leather.

  9. Just wanted to comment on how beautiful your reweaving technique for drawnwork is. I am reading through a pattern, and wasn’t convinced the technique was the best. The second technique I read included kloster edges. Then I found your method, and it was just right. So perfect. No cut edges next to the working area. Thanks for shaeing the great photos and carrying on this enjoyable embroidery.

More Comments