On her wedding day in June, my sister walked down the aisle with a hand embroidered bouquet made from goldwork flowers. For most of the first six months of this year I was working on making this bouquet.
The process of making the bouquet began by deciding, in discussion with my sister, which flowers to include and how many. There was no particular theme to the selection of flowers for the bouquet, instead my sister selected what appealed to her from flowers that had featured in previous goldwork flower projects I had made. We settled on poppies, cosmos and geranium flowers. I then made a paper mock up of the bouquet to check how the arrangement of flowers would look and decide on many flowers would need to be made. Once this paper test was approved by my sister it was time to start the embroidery.
I usually make my goldwork flowers with a combination of different goldwork wires in gold and silver. However my sister is not a huge fan of gold so we decided to make the flowers in mostly silver with touches of sage green to match the colour scheme of her wedding. To create the flowers I used four different types of silver plated goldwork wire. The different appearances of these wires and the way in which I applied them to the fabric allowed me to create contrast between the flowers and highlight details within each individual petal.
When it came to the sage green details which featured on the poppy petals and flower centres, I had to be inventive. I would normally use metal beads, spangles (a metal sequin) and goldwork wires for these details but because these weren’t available in the soft green colour I needed, I coloured beads and sequins by dipping them in green metallic paint. I also mimicked purl wire by sewing clear tube shaped beads over appliquéd sage green fabric. The fabric underneath shows through the beads so that they appear to be a soft green colour.
Once all the flowers were made I arranged the flowers into a bouquet and on the day of the wedding I added some real eucalyptus around the flowers. The bouquet was tied with a ribbon which I hand embroidered with the quote ‘Reader, I married him’ at one end and a crescent moon at the other.
And finally, the groom needed something special for the wedding day too. I created a buttonhole for him which featured an anemone flower in the same colour scheme as my sister’s bouquet.
This was such an enjoyable project for me and I was so pleased to be able to make something special for my sister and brother in law to have on their wedding day. Underneath the glass dome I had made for them, the bouquet and buttonhole can now be displayed in their home as a memento of their wedding day.
This year I am teaching several hand embroidery classes at two different locations in the UK. Starting next month I will be teaching two day classes in goldwork bee brooches at Atelier Beside The Sea in Brighton. Atelier Beside The Sea is a new gallery, shop and teaching space located on the Brighton seafront founded by Jon Tutton and Sarah Young, creators of the MADE craft fairs.
The class is designed to introduce you to the hand embroidery technique of goldwork through several different techniques that I have incorporated into the design of the goldwork bee brooch. These techniques include; using padding to create raised embroidery, applying pearl purl to create outlines and the filling techniques of cutwork and chipping. You'll work with specialist goldwork wires to create your own bee brooch and I will show you how to turn your embroidery into a neatly finished brooch.
This class runs from 10.00 to 17.00 on Wednesday the 18th of August and Thursday the 23rd of September. For more details and to book your place visit the Atelier Brighton website here. A lovely lunch from a nearby food market is included in the course fee.
Later in the year, in November, I will be teaching a long weekend class at West Dean college located near Chichester in West Sussex. The college is internationally recognised for its conservation and arts education and is situated in an historic building surrounded by beautiful gardens. This class is also focused on goldwork embroidery, during the weekend I will be showing you how to embroider your own goldwork lobster using specialist goldwork wires. You will learn many key goldwork techniques whilst embroidering the design including; padding, cutwork, couching, chipping and leather appliqué.
I designed the goldwork lobster especially for this West Dean class, it was inspired by the Salvador Dali lobster telephone which they hold in their collection and I made it in gold to tie in with their 50th anniversary.
The class runs from the 26th to the 29th of November, you can find full details, including a timetable and book your place on the West Dean website here. West Dean college have accommodation in which you can stay while you are taking part in the class, if you wish to book accommodation with the college you can do this during the booking process.
You don't need any experience in goldwork embroidery to attend any of these classes but some basic knowledge of hand sewing will be useful. Taking part in one of these classes is a great way to take your embroidery skills to the next level or just to spend an enjoyable time learning something new. I hope you will be joining me at one of these embroidery classes this year!
For those of you who don't live in the UK or can't travel, I have something for you too! My online embroidery classes are always available for you to watch in the comfort of your own home. Find them in my online shop here.
This week sees a new addition to my online shop, a collection of pressed flower art.
Since the end of August I have been collecting flowers and leaves and preserving them by pressing them between pages of old magazines. It takes a month before the flowers are ready to be taken out of the press but I gradually managed to amass a sizeable collection of pressed flowers, leaves and grasses. Most have been collected from my own garden or responsibly picked from local countryside. With these plant materials I have created a small collection of pressed flower artworks. I created arrangements of flowers and leaves and mounted them on high quality acid free card. They are left unframed so that you can make your own choice of frame to match your decor.
If you are aware of my embroidery work you will know that a lot of my pieces include flowers. In the case of my three dimensional goldwork flowers I try to imitate flowers with goldwork embroidery but I felt it would be nice to work with real flowers for a change and to diversify my online shop a little.
You can browse and purchase the full collection of pressed flowers artworks in my shop. I hope you like this new addition to my shop and do keep your eyes out for new pieces as I add them over the coming months.
Last year I was selected as a finalist in the Hand & Lock Prize for a second time, I had entered the prize in 2017 and was awarded third place in the fashion open category, this time I entered the textile art open category. In November the time came for the Hand & Lock Prize exhibition at Bishopsgate Institute in London which was a two day event followed by the judging and prize giving event in the evening, at which I was delighted to be awarded first place in the textile art open category.
The exhibition was visited by many embroidery enthusiasts and members of the public who all voted for their favourites in each category. Voting continued during the prize giving event which was attended by industry experts and the independent judging panel. It was a real honour to meet so many embroidery enthusiasts and industry experts and to speak to so many people who share my passion for embroidery.
The brief for the 2019 Prize was titled ‘Fool The Senses’. In response to the brief I created four goldwork flower sculptures which represent each season of the year through the flowers they contain. Each sculpture is hand embroidered using the technique of goldwork and goes through many processes in order to turn the flat embroidery into a three dimensional sculpture. This is a technique I developed in 2017 when I first started experimenting with creating 3D flowers with goldwork embroidery.
In these sculptures I focused on the intricate textures and patterns of the flowers I had chosen and aimed to imitate these with goldwork wires. The sculptures aim to fool the senses by creating flowers which, despite the use of metal threads, retain the delicacy of their real life counterparts. I created a fabric from metal leaf and organza for the undersides of the petals and leaves which gives the impression of a hard metallic surface but it is actually soft and pliable. The choice of a limited colour palette of only gold and silver was intended to put the focus on the textures and patterns that I created with a variety of different wires and materials.
The composition and display of the sculptures was inspired by Victorian dried flower arrangements and Dutch still life paintings as well as the work of photographer Jamie Beck. The floral sculptures are displayed in glass domes to evoke a still life arrangement.
The brief also asked for the entrants to consider the sustainability of their creations. In order to ensure the sustainability of the sculptures, I used imitation purls which require no mining for new precious metals. These purls don’t tarnish so there is no need for them to be replaced; therefore it is an everlasting floral arrangement which can replace the need for fresh flowers which often travel long distances. I sourced glass domes which are made from recycled glass with sustainable mango wood bases.
You can see more photos of the goldwork flower sculptures on the gallery page.
For the first time you can embroider one of my designs yourself with my new hand embroidery kits. With the kits you can make your own goldwork and beaded mittens decoration, perfect for your Christmas tree this coming festive season.
The kits include all the materials and essential equipment you need to create the decoration. This includes beads, goldwork wires, needles, fabric and sewing threads. The only additional items that you will need are an embroidery hoop and some scissors. The kit is available in two colour ways, one based around gold and another around silver.
These hand embroidery kits are perfect for anyone who is curious about goldwork but is unsure of where to start as I take you through several goldwork techniques in the instructions, these include using felt padding, applying pearl purl and cutwork with purls, which are all frequently used techniques in goldwork embroidery. The instructions include images and an explanation for each step of the process of making the mittens. They also explain two different methods of transferring the design to the fabric, which you may also find useful for future embroidery projects.
As goldwork is a more advanced embroidery technique, the kits are suitable for people who have an understanding of basic embroidery stitches. However, as mentioned the instructions are comprehensive so you do not need to be an embroidery expert in order to embroider this design.
I think there is nothing better at this time of year, as the weather starts to get colder, than spending some time with an embroidery project and this kit would make the perfect weekend project. You can find out more information and purchase your kit here, don't delay, there are only a limited number of kits available!
Recently I have been experimenting with natural dyeing as a way to create more sustainable colours for embroidery. I have been extracting colour from a variety of plants including nettles, eucalyptus leaves and thyme with the aim of creating a wide range of natural colours.
I made this short video showing all the processes involved in creating a naturally dyed fabric. This includes mordanting the fabric in diluted soya milk which helps the dye bond to the fabric, extracting colour from marigold petals, dyeing the fabric and finishing the fabric by rinsing out excess dye.
All video content is copyright of Hannah Mansfield.
Glorious Goldwork by Sarah Rakestraw and Susan Hinde of Golden Hinde.
Golden Hinde is a family run business with many years of experience of goldwork, they have incredible knowledge of the technique and this, their first book, is a very comprehensive guide to goldwork.
At the front of the book is an extensive guide to all the goldwork threads/wires that are available. This is particularly valuable as there is such a wide variety of threads/wires for goldwork that it can sometimes be confusing to identify what a particular thread/wire is used for. Also included in this section is information on fabrics and tools.
The next section of the book covers the techniques which form the basis of goldwork such as padding, applying pearl purl, cutwork and couching. It also includes the more detailed and complex techniques, for example, s-ing, plate and Or Nué. This makes it the perfect guide for those wishing to learn goldwork, who are starting from scratch and also those who are already familiar with the technique and looking to further their skills.
Then the book discusses basic embroidery stitches and includes some instructions of how to create them. I think the inclusion of these is so important as many of the basic embroidery stitches form the basis of goldwork but are just worked with different threads.
Included in the next section of the book are the projects which are a good variety of simpler and more complex designs. The projects utilise many of the skills included in the book, making them an excellent way to practice techniques. I think many of these designs would be particularly useful to goldwork beginners to who may not yet feel confident enough to create their own goldwork designs.
The book finishes with a collection of photographs of goldwork worked by Sarah and Susan, several goldwork artists and students of Golden Hinde. They are intended as inspiration and examples of the different designs that can be created with goldwork.
From my own perspective as an embroidery artist, I will find the technique section of the book extremely used to refer to for instructions and inspiration of which techniques to include when I am creating designs. I have been using goldwork in my work for a few years now but there is plenty in the book that I didn’t know or have not yet tried. I also think the guide to threads and wires will be helpful for picking out different threads to diversify the range that I currently use.
The book does focus more on the traditional style of goldwork, that being goldwork worked on a flat fabric. But I do believe that traditional techniques must be mastered before anything experimental can be attempted.
Overall Glorious Goldwork includes clear instructions, beautiful photographs, excellent examples of goldwork designs and is well designed with a clear layout. It is suitable for learning goldwork or as a reference guide for the more experienced.
A small collection of goldwork insects all hand embroidered by me, are now available at Pentlja Concept Store in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Each insect is embroidered with goldwork threads in silver and gold, with highlights of purple, green and blue. They are embroidered on black wool felt and made into brooches and sew on patches,
I will also be launching my own online shop soon, where I will be selling a selection of hand embroidered goldwork and Swarovski crystal bee patches and brooches. If you would like to be notified when the shop opens you can sign up to my mailing list. To do so please send me an email using the email form on the contact page. Later this year, framed embroideries featuring bees and insects will also be available in the online shop.
My Instagram account @theperpetualmaker is the best place to see regular updates about what I am currently embroidering. If you are not already following me, you might like to take a look!
A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Rebeckah Kemi Apara from Embellished Talk. Follow the link to read about my work, the books that inspire me and a couple of my favourite embroiderers on Instagram. http://www.embellishedtalk.com/the-perpetual-maker/