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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The Goldwork Word Game


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In the wee hours of the morning, when the sun was just coming up and the rooster was starting to crow, I put my down my needle, pulled out my phone, and took the following pictures.

(In other words, the pictures aren’t great!)

And as I looked back over them, I realized that we could play a game – almost as good as Wordle, only backwards.

Here in the studio, we’ve made more progress on the ongoing goldwork lettering that I’ve been writing about lately.

We are, in fact, over half-way way finished! Well, with the first half of the goldwork on more than half of the letters, anyway.

That’s almost like being “practically done” – only not really.

Here are the letters that are halfway (or close to it) finished so far – that is, the smooth passing thread areas have been filled, and we’re ready to move on to chip work.

Goldwork Altar Covers

The nice thing about working letters for appliquéing onto something else is that they don’t have to be arranged in any particular order. As long as we make up the right letters required to make up the words, it doesn’t matter what order they’re worked in.

I realized I’ve never said what the words are, so here’s your chance to guess. There are ten letters altogether, and they make up two words.

There are two U’s – both of which have the passing thread areas almost finished.

Goldwork Altar Covers

This is the U that I’m currently working on.

I do tend to make a mess while I work…

Goldwork Altar Covers

There’s an M. I think this will turn out to be an interesting letter in its finished state. The M and the two A’s are probably the most complicated letters to work, as far as the passing thread goes.

Before you start stitching on something like this, you have to really think out the path of the work, how different sections of the letters will meet up, the angle of the laid threads, and so forth. The M was a bit baffling, but it worked out well!

Goldwork Altar Covers

Speaking of A’s, like I said, there are two of them. One of them is slightly larger than the other (for a specific reason, which might give you a word hint).

Goldwork Altar Covers

There’s a D.

Goldwork Altar Covers

And an O.

And what you don’t see are the other four letters that are still to be covered with passing thread:

There’s the other A (already mentioned), an E, an S, and a whopping large R, which is also going to be one of those complicated-to-figure-out-the-stitching-path sort of letters. I initially imprudently planned to put the R off to the end because I know it will be a pain, but in reconsidering, I think it will be my next letter. Better to get it out of the way!

Ok, there you have it! Those are all the letters we’ll be stitching – ten altogether, in two words. Whoever can guess the words gets to be The Winner of Guessing the Words.

Oh, and by the way, it is ecclesiastical embroidery. It’s for a Catholic church. And it just so happens that the words are in Latin.

And just to be nice, here’s another indirect hint.

Happy Monday!


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(19) Comments

  1. Hi Mary!
    It’s looking great so far.
    I think I might have an unfair advantage on this guessing-game, but I’ll take a stab at it.
    DOMUS AUREA, house of gold in latin.

    God bless you and your wonderful work,
    Sister Truth – Harlem, NY

  2. The work you have done so far looks stunning! The only phrase I can think of that uses those letters is Domus Aurea, which would fit with the Loreto hint but not with a large R. Thank you for sharing your progress as you work on this project – I think it’s fascinating!

    1. Yes, that’s correct! The large R is just by virtue of the fact that R is a large letter… it’s not actually a first letter in this. There’s more surface area to it than most of the others, except perhaps the M, which is quite huge, space-wise. It’s the style of lettering – kind of a modern uncial.

  3. Hi Mary,

    I might have not posted my first comment correctly. I guessed that the words are Domus Aurea as in Mary, House of Gold.


  4. Hello Mary,

    Very intriguing post! I believe the words are Domus Aurea, Latin for House of Gold. How fitting for the gold work.

    I look forward to your further posts on this project.


  5. With regard to your current goldwork project – which promises to be stunning! – you’ve said you’re looking for reliable sources for the kinds of threads you want to use. I think I understand you’ll post those when you find them? My daughter does tablet weaving, using cotton threads, in her Society of Creative Anachronism persona. She wants to start working with high-end threads that are more accurate for the period the SCA covers, 500-1600 AD, including gold thread with real gold in it. I’m thinking a small starter set might be a great birthday present for her in about 5 weeks, if I know where to get it from 🙂 Thanks, and your work is, as always, a feast for the eyes, work for the hands, and a joy to the spirit!


    1. Hi, Holly, If you’re in North America, I would suggest ordering goldwork threads from Tanja Berlin in Canada. If she isn’t available within your time frame (I think she is having knee surgery and her shop is closing for a while), then the next best thing, I think, would be ordering from Alison Cole in Australia. There are several advantages to ordering from Alison: 1. even though the shipping can be high, the currency exchange is in your favor (if you’re in the US); 2. they ship pretty quickly, and they use DHL, so it arrives pretty quickly and safely; and 3.Their cuts are mostly by meter, which gives a bit more per cut for the cost.

      Another option is Golden Hinde in the UK. They have a fabulous selection and their website is a little easier to navigate, but shipping lately from the UK has been pretty slow. I don’t know what shipping option they use, though. And the British pound sterling is not in the dollar’s favor… though it has been lower lately than usual, so you’d have to check the exchange rates to see what works out better financially.

      Hope that helps!

  6. Hi Mary – Did anyone guess this word Game? I am amongst other thing writer of gothic illuminated calligraphy and am just about to bring out a book of over a hundred Elizabethan and Jacobean embroidery designs and motifs – Including gothic versal letters and some opus anglicanum vestment motifs. The things one does!
    But if I had to take a stab at your wonderfully worked word would it be ‘Adoremus’ ??
    With kindest regards from a very autumnal Lent in far off Auckland, New Zealand.

    1. Hi, Evan! I think it came out in the comments – or actually, in a subsequent post on the project. It’s “Domus Aurea” or “House of Gold,” which is an appellation given to Mary in the Litany of Loreto.

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