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Book Review - Goldwork Must-Haves

(originally published 21st December 2015)

I adore art and craft reference books - and I have the excuse of the Love Stitch Library to justify all my forays onto Amazon! This week I'm going to have a look at two of my favourite books on goldwork embroidery. They're not new, but I find myself referring to them often, for myself and for my students. There are several good books on this technique, but these two are probably my favourites.

Hazel's book was published by Search Press in 2011 and was a Christmas present via good old Amazon from my sister who lives in Texas. Right from the start you can see that this book is a bit different from other goldwork books in that the design on the cover is very delicate and uses a lot of coloured metal threads. The subtitle of the book is 'techniques, projects and pure inspiration', and there's plenty of all of this throughout the book.

Like all good teachers, Hazel makes sure she's covered the basics of the craft before diving into the experimental stage. She makes sure she covers what the different golds are right at the outset, which is always helpful, especially if you're new to the technique.

A nice feature of this book is the amount of 'fiddling' the author has done along the way. The above example shows all sorts of different things you can do with kid leather. There are plenty of other similar displays throughout the book, and this is I think, the 'inspiration' aspect of the book.

As promised on the front cover, there are also projects you can work through, complete with very clear templates and instructions. There are some very simple, small-scale pieces you can try your hand at, as well as larger, more complex and demanding pieces that will appeal to more experienced stitchers.

As always with Search Press, the photography is crystal clear, the large format and soft binding are a real help when you're trying to learn a particular technique, and throughout there is so much to simply look at and admire. Definitely one of my favourites!

Ruth's book is another one of Search Press' publications, and it came out way back in 2006! This is a smaller, thinner book than Hazel Everett's, but it has some very stylish and rather different approaches that I've not seen in other books.

I adore hard string padding - with gold and a lot of other techniques too! For a long time, Ruth's book was the only one I could find which covered the basics of how you prepare your padding, and then how you couch your gold over it to achieve different 'basketweave' patterns.

Another focus in this book is the extensive use of couched silk threads - the author has combined them beautifully with the gold and, from what I have seen of historic altar frontals and vestments, recreated a very traditional look to lovely effect.

My favourite technique that is shown several times in Ruth's book is the use of highly padded kid 'teardrop' shapes surrounded by solid couched passing threads. The ebb and flow of the couching stitches create little 'puddles' of colour where they converge, and the whole effect is very organic and contemporary.

The back cover shows a detail of one of Ruth's many sampler pieces, as does the front cover. Every time I look at her book I want to do such a sampler myself! Just need to squeeze in some time...

Search Press is one of the three major publishers of craft books, the others being Batsford and Milner. I'm particularly fond of Search Press, not because that's who I'm writing a book for, but because I like the soft covers, the decent-but-not-huge length of the books, the really great photography, and the massive variety of titles they've got in their back catalogue. It's always great fun visiting their stand at the shows! :)

So those are my two favourite goldwork books - what other books can you recommend?

Love 'n Stitches,



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