Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Or Nué Beetle - part 1

During the pandemic, I took part in a few online courses. I kept finding myself on a course with some of the same people. Not surprising, really, as we have similar areas of interest. To share our progress with the course samples, some of which I have yet to do, and to stay in touch, we formed a Facebook group and meet once a month via Zoom. One member of the group had previously designed a stumpwork beetle and, over the course of a few months, had shared with us her design as a stitch-along. I did not intend to join in as I had lots of other things in progress but was enjoying seeing what the others were doing. One day I was looking at images of beetles online and came across an enamelled beetle brooch that caught my eye. I have not been able to find it again but the image stayed in my mind. When I completed one of my ongoing projects sooner than expected I decided to use one of the techniques I had learnt in one of the courses to make a stumpwork beetle somewhat like the enamelled brooch.

I used the template provided by Arlene for the basic wing shape but rather than embellishing organza wings with beads and gold threads, I planned to create my wings using or nué. I’ve known about this form of goldwork for some time and learned more about it in two of the online courses I did during lockdown but I have not yet stitched my samples for either workshop. The wings of the enamelled brooch, as I remember it, had brightly coloured flowers on a black background. Rather than draw a design I looked through my stash for a suitable piece of fabric and settled on one with a design of small summery flowers. Although I have a black metallic thread in my stash, I decided to use a silver passing thread for the base. I then selected a few silk threads that were close to the fabric and worked in harmony with each other. The threads I used are Devere’s 6 thread silk – some of those that I received in an Advent Calendar.

Wire is often used in stumpwork as the foundation for three-dimensional shapes such as leaves, petals, or wings. The wire is first tacked to the fabric around the outline of the shape. The entire wire is then covered with buttonhole stitches. If the shape is to be filled with needle lace, the buttonhole stitches are made around the wire without catching any of the base fabric so that the shape can be detached when complete. The fabric forms the base of my wings so the buttonhole stitches are used to attach the wire to it.

Or nué is a form of goldwork using couching where different coloured silk threads are stitched over the metallic base threads to form the design. Traditionally, the metallic threads are worked to and fro in straight lines although contemporary goldwork artists sometimes work the base threads in circles or more organic lines following the shape of their design (otherwise known as Italian shading). The metallic threads are often worked in pairs but, because the wings are small and the details quite fine, I worked with a single thread, to and fro.
© Carol-Anne Conway

At first, I attempted to replicate the printed design precisely but after a few rows, I realized that the base fabric did not show at all and focused instead on creating a pleasing design, adding stitches, for example, to make the leaves more pointed, or omitting them to create space between flowers.

It took rather less time to fill the wings than I expected and I was more pleased with the look of them than I imagined.

Happy Stitching