For a very long time, Alison Cole’s goldwork books have been on my wish list. Her goldwork projects and kits are enchanting, to say the least. They incorporate such beautiful colors and design elements, and sometimes in very unusual ways. I love looking at her work!
Finally, while enjoying that incredibly long road trip earlier this summer, my wishes were fulfilled, and both of Alison’s books were added to my library. In fact, I got a deal on one of them…
The two books in question here are All that Glitters and The Midas Touch. You can read about Alison’s publishing adventures with these two books here on Needle ‘n Thread, where she was featured in a “Designer Spotlight” article last summer. It’s a fascinating story, especially if you are interested in the craft book publishing industry!
Alison self-publishes her books. They are not available through discount book warehouses, such as Amazon, but they are available at many fine needlework shops around the world. The books, as the covers attest, are full of goldwork projects and stumpwork projects that incorporate goldwork.
The majority of the content of both books concentrates on projects, but both books have extensive stitching technique sections as well.
For each project, the reader is given the patterns in line drawings, detailed materials lists and instructions on completing the project, and photos of the finished project.
All the necessary techniques for goldwork are covered at the beginning of the work, using clear photos and directions.
For different techniques – such as detached petals in stumpwork – there are colored photos of samples of the technique. The works in the photos are really something! Inspirational, to say the least. At the same time, having clear photos of the finished elements help the reader “get it.”
The general instructions in the books apply to any type of goldwork and stumpwork. They aren’t relegated just to the designs in Alison’s books. If you’re learning goldwork, for example, chances are you will learn to couch passing thread around corners, a technique clearly illustrated in the “stitches and techniques” section.
Some of the projects in the books are really just unbelievably gorgeous! Could you imagine finishing such a piece as the fuschia in the photo above, and having it hanging on your wall? Talk about a beautiful accent – and what a conversation piece!
I’ve been a fan of goldwork and stumpwork for a long time – but I’ve mostly thought of them as separate techniques. Yes, you might see, occasionally, some stumpwork highlighted with a bit of goldwork, or some goldwork that employs a bit of dimensional work, but in Alison’s books, she really combines the two techniques in amazing ways!
I was really happy with the purchase of these two books! I found them at Nordic Needle, and, to tell you the truth, they were the only definite things on my list to buy there. I’ve seen them there for a while, but was never ready to pay the price and the shipping for both. I felt justified in buying both of them by saving on shipping! (We won’t discuss how much the road trip cost in the first place, ok?) Funny how we tend to justify things like that…
But, to make the picture even brighter, I visited Nordic Needle on a Monday, which was perfect! They used to have (before they closed permanently), on Mondays, a “Monday Madness” special, where you can draw a card that has a discount amount on it, from 10% up to 50% off an item in your order. Guess what? I got 50% off one of the books. In addition to that, because I had travelled a certain number of miles, I got another percentage off the whole order (a little special they run for out-of-town visitors, based on the number of miles they travel). So it worked out, and my patience in waiting for these two books paid off.
If you’re looking for a challenging goldwork project, or if you just want to dream a bit about working one in the future, I’d suggest investing in one or both of Alison’s books, especially if you’re a fan of dimensional embroidery. While the books aren’t heavy on step-by-step beginner information, they do contain enough instruction in them for the adventurous beginner in goldwork and for the novice who has dabbled a bit in goldwork. If you’re absolutely brand new to embroidery, though, you might want to get some simpler techniques down first.
My favorite of the two books is the second one, The Midas Touch, but the first one, All That Glitters, is excellent, too.