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 Class: Progress is Slow, but It Is Progress


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At the beginning of this past summer, I took on a student. Just one student. We met all summer long, twice a week, for about an hour (sometimes an hour and a half) at a time. Her goal is to learn how to do specific elements of goldwork, to use in ecclesiastical embroidery. To this end, she wanted to work on real projects that, in the end (provided they ended successfully), could be usable.

Beyond the most basic embroidery (chain stitch, backstitch), she hasn’t really ever done any surface embroidery as an adult. As a child in South Africa (where she grew up) she learned the basics in school. She does have some really well-honed sewing skills, though, including hand-sewing skills, so she’s pretty adept with a needle. Throughout the summer, we covered the groundwork.

Goldwork Embroidery IHS

Now, we’re doing the padding for the goldwork. As I mentioned before when I talked about the transfer of this embroidery design, we’re working on a dark burgundy velveteen. The goldwork will be all couched, with the majority of the lettering done in couched passing threads.

She’s been doing all the work on this piece, of course, but this week, I’ll finish tacking on the “S” for her, so that next week, we can actually start the goldwork.

Now that the school year is in session (she’s a teacher), we’re only meeting once a week, for an hour.

Progress is slow – but it is still progress. And that’s the point: doing nothing, you’ll get nowhere, but doing something (even if it is just the littlest something every week), you will make progress! Going forward is going forward, after all.

Enjoy your day!


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(3) Comments

  1. You are right — progress, however slow, IS progress! Many years ago someone was saying one of the great things about needlework is that once you put in that stitch, it will BE there, waiting for the next opportunity you have to put in another one. Unlike the dishes, which always return to be washed again — the stitches remain exactly as you left them! In this whole process, I am sure your student is getting an excellent educational foundation. She is lucky to have you as her teacher.

  2. I also kind of ecclesiastical embroidery.
    A few days ago I started goldwork sampler from Beginner’s guide to goldwork (Polish edition). It’s wonderful book. You’ve got very talented student.

  3. Mary, you reminded me of ‘progress’ — I procrastinate so much about almost everything that it takes 20 times longer for me to suffer – before I actually Do whatever.

    When I progress slowly, a bit at a time, the task gets done eventually and I feel better.

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