HNW - goldwork-underside & pattern couching

Helen A Honeycutt merch_a_mor at
Mon Jan 22 19:35:06 PST 2001

I have done some goldwork, and there are about three reeaalllyyyy
important things I remember trying  1- waxed topstitching thread in red
or yellow is the best surface couching thread to start with.  2- I got my
best underside couching practice using about 28 to 32 guage WIRE. It is
sold on spools in craft stores, usually in the beading section. I used it
both 'in the round' and slightly flattened (gently smacked it with a
planishing hammer) I also stuck an end through the eye of a needle and
twisted it into long springs that I could cut for 'purl'  3- a sewing awl
is a necessary piece of equipment. You can use the end to gently nudge
openings in ground fabric, shove thread around, etc. Black uncut corduroy
or coat wool  work well as a working area- the high contrast and slightly
'grabby' surface help to control your materials.
Other stuff I learned- when you work with the real stuff you have to keep
it covered and/or wear gloves or your skin oils cause tarnish.  Nobody
ever worked on the material that would show- they did the finicky work on
linen canvas or twill and then appliqued the motifs to the final ground,
usually couching a final thread or cord around the outside to cover the
edge.  You can do the same thing using high count waste canvas, or, my
favorite trick, a golden yellow sturdy ground (that way, no matter what
you put it on, the yellow blends with the gold and makes gaps less
obvious) I used an all cotton bottom weight plain weave fabric, about $5
a yard on sale. A running yard will last for several projects. It is
easier to place tightly in a frame, and you dont get marks, dirt, etc on
the good ground. Get a supported hoop or frame- eventually you will
really need one hand on each side of the work. Use good light. Use short
lengths of couching thread.  Start small (I didn't and really regretted
it) because you will get better with practice- rapidly- and the
difference will show by the time you are done.  Good luck and hapy
Helen Honeycutt
Mad alchemist and textile fanatic at large

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