Sunday, 8 May 2022

Goldwork Rose

The third sample for the Introduction to Tudor Embroidery course was a goldwork rose worked directly onto black velvet. I had done many of the goldwork techniques used in this tutorial but not directly only velvet and that offered up a whole new level of challenging!

The supplies for this course included some black velvet but I substituted that for a firmer velvet that I had in my stash. Prick and pounce was again used to transfer the pattern, using yellow paint to connect the chalk dots.
© Cynthia Jackson/Carol-Anne Conway

First the stems and the outline of the rose were stitched with 1.5 twist which consists of three stands of gold twisted together. I have used similar thread before and have couched other the thread trying to “hide” the couching thread along the line of the twist. In this tutorial we were taught to open the twist by untwisting it slightly so we could stitch through the thread The tutor described this technique as “a little tedious”. I did not find it so but it took me several stitches to find a rhythm and the optimum place to go through the thread so that the couching stitch was not visible when the thread was retwisted to its original state. As a method for applying a twisted thread I think it is preferable to couching over the thread. Once I had found that rhythm, the process went quite quickly.
© Cynthia Jackson/Carol-Anne Conway

The leaves, bud, and inner rose were first outlined in #3 passing thread. #2 passing thread was then couched in a zigzag formation across the outline of the leaves, mimicking the serrated edge of a rose leaf. Smooth passing was used to represent the veins of the leaves. The smooth passing was also used to fill the sepals and the spiraling part of the stem.

The outer petals of the rose and the bud are done in #10 check over linen string padding. I believe this technique is now knows as cutwork and I think it is one of the more difficult goldwork techniques to accomplish. Each piece of check must be cut to the exact length for its position and then applied so that it lies neatly beside the neighbouring pieces. In most cases, these stitches should be perfectly parallel but in some cases, like the bud, you can rotate the stitches gradually to follow the shape and finish with a nice angle at the tip. Both scenarios are, I find, difficult to perfect. I have always found it difficult to cut purls to the precise length required and when they are slightly longer than required, cutting a tiny amount from the end is neigh on impossible, at least it was before I saw how the tutor did it. Using her method, which it to cut into the purl rather than across it, I was able not only to adjust the length more precisely but also to remove the snagged ends that sometimes are left when you make your initial cut.

The calyx is filled with chips of #10 check and the central rose is finished with a spangle and radiating stitches in 9drm tambour.
© Cynthia Jackson/Carol-Anne Conway

Seeing the needle against black fabric is always problematic and much more so on velvet. Also, stitches seem to shift on velvet making it much more difficult to position your stitches precisely! However, it is worth it as the effect of gold work on black velvet is difficult to surpass. I would dearly like a black velvet jacket with goldwork on it, perhaps down the front facings. That is another “wish” project to go on my long list.

Happy Stitching

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