I embroidered this bee for a Christmas card but as a change to just showing the finished piece, I photographed each stage of the embroidery. Goldwork embroidery is quite a fascinating process especially if you are not familiar with the technique. There are a lot of hidden parts such as the padding which can take just as long as the visible embroidery especially in larger goldwork pieces. The goldwork threads used are interesting as well and quite different to threads used in other embroidery techniques, often they do not contain a very high percentage of gold or silver but they create a brilliant effect.
The first step is padding which is what allows you to achieve the raised effect often seen in goldwork. For this bee I used four layers of felt for the bottom segment and three layers for the top segment. The bottom layer of felt is the smallest and gradually gets larger to form the shape of the padded area. There is a piece of pearle purl being added here because I forgot to photograph this stage before starting the next.
The next step is adding outlines. These are created with pearle purl in silver and gold.
Once all the outlines are complete goldwork threads are added to cover the padding. These include rough purl, smooth purl and check purl. They are hollow so the length of thread required is measured and cut and then strung onto thread and stitched on.
Next the remaining areas are filled in with chipping which is created from small pieces of cut up check purl in silver and gold sewn on individually.
For the final stage the copper pearl purl is used for the legs and antennae...and the embroidery is complete!
I was interviewed by Vichy Ly from Sincerely last week about my work, traditional hand embroidery techniques and new technologies. Vichy is a fashion graduate from Berlin, her own work is very beautiful and includes a lot of hand embroidery. She is also a talented photographer and the Sincerely website is beautifully designed, I highly recommend that you take a look. If you are interested in reading the interview, click here.