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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Goldwork Embroidery Scissors: Slightly Different, but… ?


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This week, I want to highlight some needlework tools that I’ve purchased in the last few months or so. Curiosity and a certain “need” usually compel me to purchase needlework tools. Normally, when I buy a new needlework tool, I have a problem I’ve come across that I’m hoping a certain tool will help solve. Sometimes (I admit it!!!), I buy a tool just out curiosity, to see if it really does make a difference.

This pair of goldwork scissors was purchased to satisfy the latter excuse: I was curious. Here are scissors that are specifically manufactured for goldwork. What would they be like? Would they make that much of a difference in cutting real metal threads? Are they a necessary tool for goldwork?

Goldwork Embroidery Scissors

Today, I can’t really answer all those questions. Not yet! The scissors were purchased… I’ve held them, played with the blades a bit, examined them… but I haven’t cut any goldwork threads with them yet. Brilliant, eh? Here I am, writing about goldwork scissors, and I’ve never even used them!

But what I want to do is tell you about them and poll the audience. I’d like to know if anyone else has been curious about them – or if anyone else uses them and finds them an invaluable tool.

What makes goldwork scissors different from regular embroidery scissors? Is it the fact that they are … gold? Is it the fact that they have small blades? No, no. None of the above. Admittedly, I’ve got several pairs of embroidery scissors with much finer blades, as far as thickness is concerned. Don’t get me wrong – the blades on these are quite fine; I think they are slightly finer than standard off-the-shelf embroidery scissors. And heck, gold-colored scissors are quite common. So it isn’t those two points that make these small, Italian-made scissors specifically goldwork scissors.

Goldwork Embroidery Scissors

This is what makes these scissors different from regular embroidery scissors. One blade is serrated. Very, very finely serrated. Almost invisibly serrated. So finely serrated that, if you run your finger on the cutting edge (something you probably should avoid doing with very sharp scissors….), you will barely feel the serration. And yet, they are serrated.

And that, by the way, was the most difficult photo I’ve ever taken. I’m surprised it came out.

Goldwork Embroidery Scissors

You can see that the serration is not that deep. It’s just barely there. But the point of it (no pun intended, I swear it!) is that the fine serration on the one blade is supposed to “grip” the metal thread and keep it from slipping or moving while it’s being cut.

Like I said, I haven’t cut any purls or other metal threads with these yet. I will, though! And I will compare them to cutting with the regular fine-blade embroidery scissors I commonly use for goldwork. The dubious part of me thinks that there will be no noticeable difference. And the critical-dubious part of me takes it even a step further – I’m thinking that perhaps I will find I prefer my non-goldwork-specific scissors for the task.

But the open-minded part of me (I come in three parts) says that I will at least try them and see.

At the risk of being repetitive, I will say again that this was entirely a Curiosity Purchase. I had you in mind, too, when I bought them. I figured if they turned out to be something Absolutely Splendiferous, then of course I would have to insist that every goldworking-embroidery-fiend in the world rush out and get a pair. The problem is, they’re not that easy to find, and if you do find them, would you really invest in them if they aren’t all that essential to goldwork? Right! I asked myself the same thing!

Concerning availability, even though I’ve heard about them hither and thither, I had a hard time tracking a pair down. In the US, I found them at Wendy Schoen Design. In the UK, they carry them at the Golden Hinde. Incidentally, they are a lot less expensive at the Golden Hinde than they are at Wendy Schoen – even when you figure in shipping, they’re a good $5 or $6 less if ordered from the UK.

So, here’s the audience poll: do you use serrated-blade goldwork scissors when you cut your real metal threads? And if so… what do you think of them? I’d be interested to hear what others have to say about them!

And of course, I’ll let you know as soon as I snip a bit o’ gold with ’em!


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(22) Comments

  1. I’ve used these scissors for about 10 years and I’d call them “nice to have”, not “must have”. I’m looking forward to reading what you think about them.

  2. Hey, Mary, I have these scissors or something very similar. Yours may be slightly finer than mine. I cut lots of metal threads or heavier combined threads and got tired of the little ends not being cut exactly on the curve or sorta smushed when I cut them. So I bought some gold thread scissors. I love them. They do grab the threads with the fine serrations and seem to keep the thread from moving or slipping when I cut them. I really do use them and like them. I got mine from Nordic Needle. As I said, they may not be as fine as yours, but they I like them. We’re iced in today, so I can work on a couple of projects. AnneG in NC

  3. I am in Canada and I bought my goldwork scissors from Alison Cole in Australia – parcel arrived in less than 2 weeks – and I absolutely love them. I’ve never regretted the purchase. They just give a little extra grip so that it is easier to cut where you intend to and are less likely to get little ‘pokey’ bits – if you know what I mean! I think they are worth the money if you have already done some goldwork and intend to continue, but if you don’t plan on doing much of it – may’be not.

  4. I agree with Carol. I’ve been using these scissors for a while and find that it stops me ruining my embroidery scissors by using them to cut the gold wires.
    I still find that when cutting chippings, they still ping over the table but that’s just my fault.

  5. I do not have a pair but doesn’t Gingher make a pair with the serrated edge? I have always heard that no matter which kind of scissors you use, yu should open the blades as wide as possible and cut the metal as far back on the blades as possible. I think this is so that if a burr develops on the blades you can move a bit toward the points.

  6. I did find that cutting metal threads with my good scissors dulled the blades really quickly, so I tried the serrated & now wouldn’t be without them. Got mine at Needle in the Haystack.

  7. I also vote in favor for the goldwork scissors, for all of the reasons above. I stopped ruining other scissors cutting the metal. The serrations do grab the bits of metal and help you cut where you want. Mine were a gift but I bet they came from Nordic Needle. My only, minor, kvetch is that they’re not as fine as I’d like for the finer threads and I have to sometimes separate the coils more than I’d like to poke the tip into the thread. If I’m careful how I do it, though, it doesn’t show on either the cut piece or the leftover strand.

  8. I have not used these, but they sound like miniature tin snips, like the larger version that my dad has in his tool shed used to cut wire and sheet metal. This may be a good enticement for the man in your life to try something new, but of course he may want to cut wire and aluminum foil with them as he’s “fixing” things around the house. Surely, I am not the only one with that problem.

  9. I’ve had my serrated gold work scissors for years and only use them for cutting metal threads. As someone else pointed out, they don’t smush the metal and they do hold it so that the cuts are clean and straight. I also use them to keep my regular embroidery scissors from getting dull. Yes, Gingher does make gold work scissors, too. Last year I bought (a special gift to me) matching regular embroidery scissors and gold work scissors by Gingher. Yeah, I know, how do I keep them separate with those very fine serrations — I finally found a practical use for different fobs on the handles.

  10. Mary,
    I don’t have these tiny serrated scissors, but I do have a pair of large “bent” serrated fabric scissors for cutting “slick” fabrics like organza, satins, velvets and the like and Man Oh Man, they sure DO make a difference in cutting those kinds of fabrics. Slippery fabrics want to slide forward right out the front of the scissors or sideways… anyway which way and they don’t want to behave. Those tiny cuts on the blade make all the difference in being able to cut a piece out correctly or making a real mess of it. So I think those tiny serrated scissors would do the same for your gold work materials.

  11. Mary,

    I purchased a pair of scissors very similar if not identical from The Silver Needle in Tulsa. They were advertised for use for cutting metallic, not metal. Mainly I purchased because I was tired of replacing my more expensive scissors after they were dulled by cutting metallic thread. I don’t notice that they cut any better (the whole serration gripping the fiber idea), but I do think they help “save” my more precise cutting tools.

  12. I have this scissors made in Premana – Italy that is a special place for scissors makers.
    I have found it very good but I use it only for cutting metal threads and are still working very well since I bought it many months ago.
    I can say I have resolved the problem of cutting metal threads.

  13. I have not used any special scissors for goldwork yet. But I wanted to know who the manufactures these goldwork scissors?

  14. I have a pair but have not used them yet. I was a little put off because I felt that they are not fine enough but reading the comments that others have left, I think I will give them a try now.

  15. when I worked at a local needlework shop, we would recommend serrated scissors to cut any type of metallic threads, as metal threads dull regular scissors. While not absolutely necessary, it’s good to have one pair of scissors used only for metal threads, and save your good ones for other threads and fabric.

  16. I don’t have any goldwork scissors as I rarely do any goldwork – I must confess I am scared silly of it. However I do have two pairs of Gingher dressmaking scissors, one serrated, the other not. I was told that the serrated ones are made specifically for synthetic fabrics as they are more likely to dull the blades. To differentiate them, I simply had a little ‘S’ engraved on the appropriate pair.

    The Italian scissors that someone mentioned are also very good – I use their applique scissors and some bent embroidery ones.

    I have become quite curious about the goldwork scissors now ….. and Alison Cole is in this country, and she comes here occasionally to give classes …..

    1. Hi, Jason – I’ve been working with mine more and more lately, and I have to admit, I’m glad I have them, too! They’ve saved my good embroidery scissors! ~MC

  17. Mary
    My do dovo’s no one touches. I have two pair, yes I know, but extravagance it is not
    One pair in my travel box and the other with the my general embroidery. My name is on both and woe betide if anyone dare looks side ways at them.
    Selfish. You betcha. There are just some things that are not for general use.

    My large Wright shears for dress making and cutting ground fabrics are off limit as I do have an old pair of Wrights that are nearly 100 year old. They were my Aunt’s and well used but as sharp as a pair of new ones if not better. They snip to the very end.
    My Mother said me at one time….bit of an over kill isn’t, she saw me snipping the it say as I cut out a bit of lace. Big bit I was as sure as daisies are not oats that these scissors would leave a crisp and right to their end a neat cut. I don’t usually use them but they were handy at the time. I haven’t tried the newer pair tho as I don’t want to push the luck as the new ones don’t have a good hand yet, worn in.

    Every artiste must have some tools that are just for them. Try asking a wood worker if you could use his planes, or carving tools.

    I do not apologise, one iota.
    AS to the gold cutters, it is a matter of tools for the job. Mine are still going strong and they are good, or excellent for the job.

    Never lend or even offer. You pay for the best, you keep them as your best. We all have to have something for our selves. Not selfish just common sense.
    Mine are and will always be off limits.


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