I’ve said it before. I’ll probably say it again some day.
I Love Pearl Purl.
Pearl purl is one of my Favorite Ever Goldwork Threads. It’s a hefty thread, especially in the larger sizes (like 3 and 4), and it makes a gorgeous outline.
Pearl purl is a very solid metal thread, as it’s simply a coil of solid metal wire that, when un-stretched, looks like a line of little golden beads, like this:
I just love the stuff!
You can read more about pearl purl goldwork thread and how it is used here.
What I want to show you today is a simplification of a technique that involves stretched purl pearl wrapped with silk.
Stretched pearl purl wrapped with silk creates a beautiful edge treatment in a goldwork project!
The first time I stretched pearl purl and wrapped it with silk to create this alternating silk-and-gold edging was when working on this Golden Pomegranate goldwork project designed by Margaret Cobleigh.
You can see the tutorial for wrapping pearl purl with silk here.
I also used the technique in the Marian Medallion Project, and wrote up a few tips on it in that article, too.
Shortcut for Wrapping Pearl Purl with Silk
Today, I want to show you a Shortcut.
This particular shortcut produces almost the same result with the silk and pearl purl, but it does so a little faster and with a little less frustration.
Here’s a short length of pearl purl #3, stretched to about 3.5″ long.
Normally, to get the silk inside the pearl purl, you twist the silk thread around the stretched pearl purl, making sure that the twist works into each “valley” on the pearl purl.
Instead, I propose using a beading needle, like the thin wire needle you see in the photo above.
This is the same beading needle I used when embroidering eggs. It’s a very long needle made up of two tiny pieces of wire joined at each end into a tip, so that the eye travels all the way down the middle of the needle.
First, I cut a length of #3 pearl purl and stretched it so that it was less than double its length – it’s stretched, but not too far. It retains its coily look without looking super-stretched out. Once the pearl purl was stretched, I trimmed it down to the length I needed, so that I wouldn’t have to trim it once the silk was through.
For the #3 pearl purl, I need a fairly thick bunch of silk, so I’m using all six strands of Soie de Paris here, threaded into the beading needle.
The beading needle passes right through the center of the pearl purl coil and out the other end.
If your pearl purl is too long when stretched to accommodate even a long beading needle, you can always thread the silk through before stretching the pearl purl. You just have to be careful when stretching the pearl purl that you don’t damage the silk. And you might end up having to unwrap the silk from the very ends of the pearl purl to trim the metal thread down to size. You need the tails of silk sticking out of the end of the metal thread, so don’t trim the silk, too! Just the metal thread.
Here’s the silk, passing through the pearl purl. It’s ready to couch into place.
Using one strand of the same silk you threaded the pearl purl with, couch the pearl purl into place, couching every few coils. If you want to wax the couching thread, use the lightest coating of beeswax possible. The more wax you coat the thread with, the darker the thread will be, and it will not blend in as well with the silk threaded through the purl.
When you’re finished couching, sink the ends of the threaded silk into the fabric on each end of the pearl purl.
Now, there is a slight difference between wrapping the silk around the pearl purl and threading it through the pearl purl. When you wrap the silk, you can wrap in a direction that emphasizes the twist of the thread, so that you end up with a more “twisted” look between the coils of the pearl purl.
But that type of wrapping can be somewhat frustrating, because while you wrap the pearl purl, as you continue down the length, it unwraps from the top again if you’re not careful.
In any case, I found the beading needle to be a handy way to speed up the process of adding silk to pearl purl.
And incidentally, although it looks like this is couched on the outside frame of the Mission Rose project (it was, initially!), it’s since been removed… to reappear somewhere else.