Deconstructing the leaves on this goldwork piece was really fun – probably because it was so simple! Unlike the goldwork grapes, lily, and rose, the leaves are not layered with various elements worked onto foundations, all tightly fitting together. The leaves are not fiddly at all to take apart!
Here’s a leaf close up. It’s about 1.5″ long, and a little more than 3/4″ at its widest. There are several types of leaves on this piece, as you can see below, but most of them are these single little flat leaves covered with a very fine rococco goldwork thread.
If you look at the top of the piece here (which is where most of the leaves are found), you can see that the majority are these small leaves, but there are some longer, slender leaves, too. They’re all worked the same way, and they all have the same type of foundation.
On the back of the embroidered piece, the leaves are attached just like all the other pieces were. There are two threads going around the leaf perimeter – one is the appliqué thread and the other is the thread that holds on the check purl that surrounds the leaf.
When I picked off the first leaf, the twist underneath that forms the stem was attached to the fabric underneath the leaf. I didn’t cut the stem at all – this is exactly how it was attached.
This is the back of the leaf. It looks pretty much like the backside of the previous pieces. Because the shape is so simple, you get a clear idea here of the process used to attach the gold thread. The thread that couches the gold onto the form passes back and forth from one side of the shape to the other.
Once I got the gold and the foundation off the ground fabric, there was once again this stub of twist sewn onto the ground fabric. It’s very similar to the twist used for the vine in the photo farther above, but it’s not the same twist. Remember, I didn’t cut the twist! So again, I have a feeling that these pieces were all cut from an older vestment and applied to the “new” ground (which is rather old in itself, judging by the shape of it and the style.)
Here’s the card foundation. There is no felt – just the card.
I’m not certain yet, but I’m thinking the top of the card may be painted yellow.
This is the back of the card, which is significantly lighter in color. The difference in color could be age, or maybe the contact with the gold, but I’ve got this sniggling suspicion the card foundation might actually be painted yellow.
I’ll explore that and let you know if I come up with anything to verify it. I have read that card or board foundations were preferably yellow in color when used underneath gold. But I know it isn’t always the case, because I’ve taken apart and repaired goldwork like this, where the foundation was any manner of color – from grey carpet felt to regular balsa wood to newsprint. Well, it’s something new to explore!
So, those are the leaves – very simple when compared to the other pieces. And speaking of not-quite-so-simple, next up, we’re going to look at the wheat ears… and then we’ll take apart the lamb! Can’t wait to get to that!
Questions? Comments? Curiosities? Have your say below!
You can find the backstory on this piece and see other examples of deconstructed goldwork elements from the piece listed under the Deconstructing Goldwork Index, if you want to read more about this whole process. Deconstructing this piece allows us to learn a lot about the processes, materials, and techniques used in this type of goldwork, so if you’re curious, feel free to check out the previous articles!