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It's All About the Sparkle!

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

I always think there are three parts to Goldwork Embroidery - first the padding, second the couching and third the cutwork. Couching uses solid threads and are stitched over whereas cutwork uses hollow threads which are stitched ‘through’, a bit like you would a bead. And the most ‘beadlike’ of all the cutwork techniques is the one called Chipping.

Chipping is THE technique for making the most out of reflecting and refracting the light.

Goldwork is engineering at heart - there are specific ways of achieving the results you’re aiming for, and the use of padding, couching and cutwork various types of threads all play their part. It’s all very exact and specific and incredibly satisfying! Then you come to Chipping, which is partly exact but then it’s also partly random, which tends to do people’s heads in! The ‘chips’, which for this technique resemble gold beads, all have to be cut to the same size - traditionally they need to be cubic, in other words as long as they are wide (gold comes in different widths). That’s the first challenge, because even the wide gold is very fine to the naked eye! The second challenge is to keep the chips from flying off your work surface and onto the floor (they have minds of their own), which is why you tend to use a piece of board covered in velvet, to catch the little things as they ping off the scissors. Then comes the third challenge: to stitch each chip down next to those already in place, but never at the same angle. The whole point of chipping is to sparkle, and to do this it needs to reflect and refract light in all different directions, so the chips themselves need to be facing in as many different directions as possible, all over the area that they’re covering. I’m used to hearing the same comment from my students each time they try solid chipping for the first time: “It’s really hard to be random!” It takes practice, practice and more practice. Take a look at how to work Goldwork Chipping in my YouTube video, here.


In my workbox...

I’ve been transferring motif designs onto the Stumpwork Sampler using the waste fabric method recently, with Cotton Organdie as the fabric of choice. Removing the warp and weft threads is made A LOT easier with, of all things, forceps! I started using them when I was making Textile Art Dolls (great for pulling things outside-in) and they’re one of those tools that prove themselves extremely handy again and again. I recently bought a smaller set from Amazon, here:


A View from The Glass Tent

Stem stitch and needlelace as far as the eye can see! (Oh, and some removal of waste Organdie with forceps...)

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