Goldwork is all about the combination of techniques to create detail, texture and defination even when using the same colour material throughout . Whilst we have spent a while talking about the two big families of techniques used in goldwork being couching and cutwork, there are a few styles that don’t fully fit into those catagories which we will explore today.
Applique: A well known embroidery technique not exclusive to goldwork but often used in goldwork to create smooth areas in contrast to the high detail bullion areas. This is most often done with metallic fabric, some of which are woven with real metals such as cloth of gold or kid leather. In the example above, cloth of gold is used under the trellis pattern of the right hand heart to create textural contrast with the basketweave of the left hand heart.
The fabric is cut to shape and laid flat in the area it is to be stitched. Once some intially holding stitching are in place to ensure no bubbling up, a series of tiny stitches are placed around the edge to hold the fabric smooth and flat. For this reason it is usually used in conjunction with an edging stitch to cover the holding stitching and raw edges (such as pearle purl shown here).
When kid leather is used as the applique material, some alterations are necessary to the approach to allow for the qualities of the leather. Usually a leather needle and thimble will be required to slice through the leather in order to stitch it, and a thicker edge used to cover the stitching and denser raw edge possessed by the leather. In the above example, 2 layers of pearle purl are used around the edge of the silver leather base of the crest. The leather often gives a smoother still appearance than woven cloths , the leathers used are treated in order to be suitably coloured for these purposes.
Sometimes the applique is used to create colour contrast as well, often as a background as we see here in this example with both the white, navy and background gold sections of the badge being appliqued fabric.
Plate: Is a thin flat metal ribbon which is folded back and forth on itself to fill an area or used as a strip. It is a little bit more unyielding than some of the other gold metal materials so it’s uses are sometimes a bit more restricted. However, with a bit of careful consideration it can be worked into pieces seamlessly.
In this example, plate is used for the beetles lower body where you can see that the plate is bent back on itself in a zigzagging pattern to fill the shape.
Plate is used here as part of the basket weave to create the illusion of raisings and add contrast to the purls of the basketweave.
Spangles: We have briefly touched upon spangles in a previous techniques when talking about essing, as they are often used together. Spangles are similar to a sequin in approach, but made of real gold metal materials and so have a little divet in one side due to how they are formed unlike plastic sequins. They can be seen in the example above as well as the plate, lining the edges of the cutwork swirls and used with small pieces of cutwork between them to give a scolloped effect.
In some circumstances like this King’s cypher, spangles are used for the lettering in combination with cutwork for an ultra luxurious effect.
This covers the last of the techniques we have to talk about as we explore goldwork, join us for the next blog when we will talk about how to get started with this historic form of embroidery.