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Posts Tagged ‘goldwork’

The thing I most enjoy about being on Instagram is connecting with other artists. I’ve ended up on the periphery of the print community via a customer who bought an upcycled pendant a couple of years ago, and was recently contacted by one of the lino print artists I follow asking if I would be up for an Art Swap. Definitely!

As this guy is a printer, I decided to go for the print theme in my swap items. First was this screen print on calico using a paper mask which I did at a workshop way back in November 2013 with Dionne Swift.

Then back even further to February 2012 to some experiments I did with ironing Angelina fibres onto rubber stamps. This was one of my favourites and the last one I have left of the batch. It sort of fits with the printing theme.

I chose some purple cotton and gold silk for the background and started by edging the motif in a goldwork thread. I’m not sure of the name of this type of thread, which is gold wound round a soft core. I think it’s either Jap or passing, but would welcome a positive identification!

Then I used a running stitch round the edges of the purple block to connect the layers of fabric.

Lastly, as it’s a big part of my practise, I stitched some found objects to the centre.

The third piece was a bookmark made from offcuts from a piece I printed using the same quatrefoil stamp as in the Angelina experiment at a Print to Stitch workshop with Jan Dowson in February 2019.

I cut the six whole quatrefoils off for my Medieval tiles piece. and made the offcuts into a couple of book marks. One I gave as a gift last Christmas and the second just needed a Bondaweb backing and a blanket stitch edging to be completed.

I used an eyelet setter and a perfectly matching eyelet for the tassel.

Which was made from a slightly darker green stranded cotton than the blanket stitch.

They arrived safely last week, to the absolute delight of the recipient. It’s always lovely having glowing feedback from another artist, but somehow when that artist is someone who doesn’t work in the medium of needle and thread, there seems to be much more of a wow factor. Perhaps those of us who stitch have become accustomed to the wonderful textures and effects we can get from textiles and are less blown away by them. It was good for my ego, anyway!

Very much looking forward to the prints I’m getting in return which should hopefully arrive this week.

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Not much stitching this week as I’ve been dealing with the end of term in various ways, but the miniature garden now has some bullion knot lettuces in a very subtly variegated thread:

And I’ve started some courgettes. I think I might cut the leaves out of some fabric like I did with the pumpkin pendant…

…rather than embroider them as they are quite big. The only other way I can think of is to make them as needle lace slips and I don’t really want to go into that level of complexity. I’ve tried out an experimental courgette made from the tiniest raised stem band with a trio of lazy daisy stitches for the flower. Hopefully the head of the pin gives an idea of scale!

The wind sculpted tree has gone from this:

To this:

I needle felted a sheep for a birthday card:

And finished a doodle with some of my reticulated brass scraps and gold pearl purl on sapphire blue silk.

Must try harder!

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As I suspected, finding the right white for the vertical glazing bars of the Temperate House was a pain. I ended up with a selection of white threads, ranging from good old Anchor stranded cotton to some fabulous Gloriana 12 strand silk called ‘Fresh Snow’ which is too perfectly white, silky soft and beautiful to use!

After standing in the sunny garden laying threads out alongside the ribbon and seeing how just one or two strands compared with the way the thread looked in the skein, I finally settled on a Dinky Dyes stranded silk in ‘Natural’.

I initially used back stitch rather than my go to split stitch as I wanted a stronger line but I wasn’t happy with the breaks between the stitches, so I whipped it to give more solidity.

The lines are similar rather than identical to the original, but when I referred back to the source photo, I realised how subtly the spacing and angles of the bars changed as their perspective to me altered. Had I drawn this from memory, all those lines would have been parallel and evenly spaced. It was a very useful lesson in observation.

I’ve also continued with the or nué acorn and started the coloured couching in single strands of stranded silk. Despite my initial concern that it was at an angle to the gold, I felt the first part of the cup worked well. It was only when I came to add the highlight that it started to get a bit challenging.

I wanted the highlight to curve round the cup, but working in straight lines makes that difficult, especially as this piece is so small. Not really knowing what else to do, I just carried on stitching to see if I could make it work out. By this point I had started the acorn, so things were ramping up on the difficulty scale, not least having four needles on the go at once.

I know I have the tendency to overcomplicate things, but I did think an acorn would be a relatively simple thing to stitch! Once I had sort of wrangled the highlight on the cup I realised I needed to add a lighter colour to the acorn. Unfortunately I think I should have introduced it at least a row previously…

It wasn’t working and I needed help to see where the shading was, so I added some lines to give me an idea of where the changes need to happen. Suddenly I feel more confident about it.

I think I will have to go back and unpick some of the darker green on the row or two above and add the mid green, but I’ve decided to continue and finish the design first and see how it looks. This is very much a first attempt at a new technique and it will do me good to not obsess about everything I do having to be perfect straight out of the box.

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After having stitched the next section of ribbon for the glazing bars of the Temperate House at Kew down with stab stitches, it was clear that the original blanket stitches had to come out. Much better.

This has made it less bulky, so I decided to take Rachel’s (VirtuoSew Adventures) advice and run the bars right across the background.

Next I need some white thread for the thinner vertical bars, but there is white and white, as I found out a few years ago when I stitched a whitework piece and discovered that the threads I thought were identical under artificial light certainly were not in daylight! So I’m leaving the thread matching for a day with good natural light.

I’ve just added this sweet little upcycled sea glass brooch to my Etsy shop. It was one of those satisfying moments when after having trawled through a large pile of sea glass finding pieces that were almost but not quite right, I picked up this gorgeous green oval and it clicked into the vintage brass brooch setting like it had been made for it.

As if I didn’t have enough projects on the go, this week I’ve started a little or nué design of an acorn. I painted it onto some indigo dyed calico, left over from the Persian Chandelier piece with my Inktense sticks, which I love.

Then I started couching down the gold threads, using Pearsall’s ‘Gossamer’ thread. It’s so thin, it’s literally like stitching with spider’s web, so perfect for the job. It was a bit challenging to make the gold thread turn as tightly as possible at the ends , but so far, so good.

As I approached the edge of the acorn, I realised I hadn’t made things easy for myself. I was going to hit the acorn at an angle, rather than straight and this was going to potentially make it more difficult to get the shading right.

However, considering the amount of time it had already taken me to get this far with the gold, I have decided to keep on and see what happens. If nothing else, it will be an important lesson and remind me to do a bit more research before I blithely jump into a brand new technique!

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Back in May we had a goldwork initial workshop with Brenda Scarman and I started to work a letter ‘O’ for a birthday card for my mother. As it was her birthday a couple of weeks ago I can finally reveal something I’ve finished!

At the end of the workshop I had got this far:

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I simplified the scrolls in the middle due to the thickness of the double couching thread and added more chips of silver purl, silver seed beads, turquoise bugle beads and french knots to the border.

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Not happy with the squashed spiral on the lower left, so I restitched that.

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Carried on beading and french knotting…

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…until it was finally finished.

And then I decided I preferred it up the other way!

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Simply framed with grey card to become a special birthday card. And a finish!!

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I’ve also upcycled an odd clip on earring front to make a beaded brooch

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…and turned some of my huge collection of sea glass and china into rings.

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Loads more projects still to get stuck into though!

 

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Our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was an all day workshop with Brenda Scarman on goldwork. Our aim was to transfer into fabric and then stitch an ornate letter using different goldwork techniques. For me this was an ideal opportunity to use up some of the goldwork threads I’ve accumulated through eBay over the last few years! Just as very small selection…!

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I chose the letter O not because it was an easy shape, but  because I hope to stitch this for a birthday card for my mum, whose name is Olwen. And as it was an easy shape I lazily copied it free hand onto this gorgeous hand dyed silk.

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Couching some sort of thread I had round the outside of the outline.

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And the inside.

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Then the silver leather. There is a single layer of felt underneath to give it a slightly raised feel but I wanted it to stay inside the outline.

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The next technique we were shown was chip work. That was fun! I started with dense chip work leading away from the leather, and then started to gradually add silvery clear beads and the odd french knot in turquoise.

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Gradually I lessened the silver and increased the turquoise, introducing more french knots and bugle beads.

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It was my first attempt at goldwork (I don’t count the pearl purl work I did on some of my hand made jewellery a couple of years ago) and I really enjoyed it. Now all I have to do is to get it finished for my mum’s birthday.

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Another finished piece, this time a pendant. I started with an early attempt at reticulation, which worked beautifully in one part of the brass but didn’t spread to the rest of the piece.

Volcano pendant 1

I then cut it out with a hacksaw, tidied up the central hole and polished it.

Volcano pendant 2

Initially I wanted to stitch it onto black silk, until I found a piece of black cotton velvet. The edges of the brass and the pearl purl sink so nicely into the pile of the velvet and it gives another wonderful textural contrast.

Volcano pendant 3

I took Rachel’s advice after I’d blogged about the blue spirals brooch and stretched the purls slightly before I stitched them down. Much neater.

Volcano pendant 5

Some of the longest bullions I’ve ever stitched, and with a slightly slubby thread too. The bullions and the purl are actually holding the metal to the fabric.

Volcano pendant 6

Volcano pendant 7

Volcano pendant 8

I finished off the french knots inside the hole and added some trios in a dark red silk thread to the ends of the purls.

Volcano pendant 8

The pendant is two almond shapes cut from pelmet vilene which are laminated together and the velvet laced over them.

Volcano pendant 9

The back is another slightly smaller single piece of vilene which has been covered with black kimono silk with a slightly crepey texture.

Volcano pendant 10

This was invisibly ladder stitched onto the black velvet and the bale stitched on with red thread.

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Volcano pendant 12

And boxed.

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I really feel I want to do something more with these pieces of jewellery than just accumulate them like I do with my purely textile work. I was wondering if they might be the sort of thing that would sell on etsy… Any thoughts from the wise?

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One of the options I was considering for attaching my reticulated metal to fabric was couching heavy goldwork metal threads at either side of the metal and letting the rigidity of the threads hold it in place.

I had the other section of the thin brass rectangle that had melted into two and also given me the piece I used in the fire pendant…

Blue spirals 1

…some oddments of pearl purl in two thicknesses and the last of the intense sapphire coloured silk I’d used for the Eregion pendant.

Blue spirals 2

The reticulated brass piece was stitched onto the silk with straight stitches in Gutermann metallic gold thread over some of the narrower sections just to keep it in place before I started on the main couching. It’s possible to see the stitches but they really are very well camouflaged against the metal.

It’s only the second time I’ve used pearl purl but the moment I started to couch the spirals with the same thread I’d used to stitch down the brass, I knew it was right.

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The brass sits firmly in place under the coils of wire.

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Definitely a technique I want to use again.

Next time, I need to make sure all the stitches slide down between the coils of the purl and they could also all be a little smaller, neater and closer to the purl, but I was so delighted with the effect that I was rather stitching in a hurry to see where it was going.

Blue spirals 9

I just adore the colour combination, which surprises me, because when it comes to the jewellery I wear, I’m strictly a silver lover. But this…

It’s a bit big for a pendant so I’m going to finish it as a brooch. Not my favourite part, but I need the hoop for the volcano piece.

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The fire pendant is almost ready for making up and on my course this week I managed to get a number of other things ready to start the embroidery stage.

The fire pendant has had the bullions added and is off the hoop to make way for another piece.

Fire pendant 1a

The bullions were quite awkward to do as they go over the metal, so there’s no give when you put the back stitch in and also the thread is very fine and that made it difficult to pull the loops through evenly, but it’s a start to exploring ideas for attaching the metal to the fabric.

Fire pendant 2a

The week before last I reticulated another piece of brass which holed quite nicely, but was very concentrated in one spot.

Volcano reticulation 1

The texture is wonderful, reminding me of a volcano, but I wanted to enlarge the hole and get rid of the smooth areas, so that was one of my first jobs this week.

Volcano reticulation 2

After a long session with the saw and the rest of the evening in the barreller, smoothing the edges and polishing it, it looks like this.

Volcano reticulation 2

The edge is all completely hand sawn, with my heart in my mouth lest I snap the impossibly thin and fragile blade as I twisted it round the contours of the reticulation and I just love the fine almost organic edge I’ve managed to get.

Volcano reticulation 4

I plan to mount it on black silk and continue the volcano theme with embroidery in vivid red and orange with some goldwork threads and then finish it either as a brooch or another pendant.

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