I'm a little scrambly about whether and how much I'll actually finish before the deadline, but hopefully it'll all sort itself out.
I would also like to announce that I am now (thank goodness) 80% finished with my goal!
Late last night I finally finished my goldwork project.
It seemed like it took forever, though I think I actually only spent about 24 hours on it, total (over about 2 weeks). I think it's just the fact that the project, as it grew, seemed to take longer and longer.
About 18 months ago, I think, I was admiring the work of a lady of my Kingdom, The Honorable Lady Renata l'Rouge. She had made an amazingly beautiful embroidery of some 14th century people hunting, I believe. It was Or Nue, Shaded Goldwork.
She saw me admiring it, and the next time I saw her, she handed me a book, and two small packets of gold thread (that's just the kind of person she is).
The book was The A to Z of Goldwork, byKathleen Barac.
One packet of thread was faux gold, and the other was real gold. Gold thread, in this case Gold Smooth Purl, is made of a silk core wrapped with extremely thin ribbons of gold.
I decided to use the faux gold first, so as to be able to mess around without being worried about wasting real gold.
Modernly, it seems the silk thread is used more sparingly, and the gold allowed to shine through more often.
I chose to do a circular image rather than a rectangular one, which meant starting in the middle of the image and working outwards.
The faux gold was already doubled up, and wrapped around a card. I decided to start at the end and see how much I would need as I went.
I stretched a piece of white handkerchief linen in an embroidery hoop (I have a frame, but this was a small project, and I'm also not very good at securing things to the frame yet).
Next, I drew out the design (a Sycamore Token) on the fabric, and marked out the center.
The center of the doubled thread was the center of my image.
I started with red silk thread (Gutermann, from Joann's, because I had it left over from sewing silk banners). I couched down the center, and then attempted to turn it around to start the spiral. It took some doing, but I managed eventually.
Then I realized that in order to do this properly, I was going to have to thread multiple needles at once.
I threaded one with red, one with gold, and one with white.
As I went around, when the pattern called for a different color, I just tucked the current needle into the fabric (sometimes pinning the extra thread up so that it didn't get stuck), and started in with the next one, much like knitting or weaving in a color pattern. I tried to space the stitches wider on the right half of each leaf.
The first one went quite quickly. I finished about half of it in a few hours the first day, while at an event.
My friend, Baroness Bronwyn, had tried goldwork before as well, and she happened to be hanging out with me at the event, and gave me some great advice. In particular, she emphasized that it was important to try to only use one gold thread for the whole project, because starting and stopping was a pain.
The finished piece is 1.5" in diameter.
The only major problem with the first one was that I accidentally reversed the colors of the badge. On the plus side, I also reversed the number of leaves, so if you ignore the stem, it's actually accurate after all!
I took a break from the goldwork once the first project was done, because I was preparing classes for Academy.
When I went back to it, I stretched a new piece of linen, and estimated how long the thread would have to be do make a similarly sized piece to the first one.
I decided on 4 1/2 feet.
Unfortunately, while the real gold was all bundled up neatly, it was VERY curly, and difficult to keep neat while trying to measure it out. I ended up untangling and re-spooling it several times before I was done.
I measured out 9 feet, and cut it, and then folded it in half.
This time, I wanted to make a Fleur Badge.
I may have made a mistake in not drawing it out on the fabric this time, but I chose not to.
The Fleur only has 2 colors, red and gold, and I already had those colors threaded up.
It was going pretty well, I had about half an inch diameter done, when I left it unattended for a little while. I'm not sure if it was the cats or the Smallest One, but when I came back, someone had detached the gold thread, and one piece of the detached thread was shorter than the other.
I sighed, trimmed the longer piece down, pulled the ends of the short piece through to the backside, and tacked them down. Then I pulled the two new pieces down to the back side, tacked them down, and kept going.
|Medieval Or Nue|
It's not impossible to add a new piece of gold thread, it's just annoying. The way I was doing it, I stuck the eye-end of a needle up from the back to the front of the fabric, right where the gold thread was, fed one piece through, pulled it down, and then repeated for the other. Then, on the back, continuing in the same direction as the thread had been going on the front, I tacked it down to the other threads, being careful not to go through to the front. When it was suitably tacked down, I nipped off the ends to make it neat.
I did the same thing, backwards, for the new thread, but made sure to add it very close to the old thread, to avoid a double-thickness in the design.
As you work outwards, of course, the diameter gets larger, and the amount of sewing involved in each round is greater. Thus, it seems like it takes longer and longer (and it does), so I was very grateful to finally get to the end of it last night. I even stayed up an extra half hour to finish the darn thing because I was only half a round from done.
Because I didn't draw it out first, I started the fleurs a little too far from the center, and ended up with a larger piece than I had anticipated. No big deal, except that it used more thread. As in the Sycamore, I tried to leave more space between stitches on the left side of each fleur. I think it was more noticeable this time.
The Fleur is 2" in diameter.
The main difference in working with the faux gold and the real gold is in the drape (which seems silly to say in light of these not being fabrics, but it is true). The faux gold was really quite stiff, and tended to stick out rather than lie neatly. The real gold was much nicer to work with, and I enjoyed the deeper quality of color, as well.
Now that both are done, I will frame them, and hopefully give them to a worthy gentle at some point (or to Their Majesties, to give to a worthy gentle).
I hope whoever receives them will enjoy them.