Metal and Lace Music | Mixed Media

Oh, Fibristas and Fibristos, i am swooning, raptured and in thrall. How can something so hard make me so soft and gooey eyed? Perhaps you too will fall under its glittering hard carapaced shell spell………

I have drawers full of lace. I never wear it, i rarely use it, but i love the stuff. My girliegirl side coveted it when i was a child, my sensible side said it was pointless and perhaps even wrong to wear something so fragile and beautiful. I’ve always wanted to make lace, but i know i’d never have the patience, or the dexterity now and the focus. I can’t tat, can barely crochet and knit never. But embroidery can simulate the appearance of lace, and even some of the characteristics, depending on the stitch. All the raised effect stitches i have been learning and practicing in the last little while, can combine with net darning, Punto in Aria and Battenburg. And with the machine creating the base ground, speed does become a factor. I can spend hours spinning the tulle in the machine adding various grounds with my favourite machine stitches, then slow down and add relief, in many senses of the word :}, with hand work.

But i don’t want just gossamer; i want depth, hand, weight and treasure, sound even. How can i add that to something so fragile and silent? Can i add a different media, one so sharply masculine— like metal? Yes……….. In stitching the metals, they become optical illusions, puddled with light, disappearing into the background. Sparks show in unstitched areas of the copper, the air is illuminated in the sinuous clearings of tulle, the surface of hand and machine stitch is tactile and deep.

The stitches condense, fall off the edge, shadow themselves if the bobbin is a different colour. When i hoop for the handwork, i have a sheer tambourine ringing with the basso profundo of black, the tenor of twilight purple and the soprano of sweet 16 pink. All of it rings again the needle, the metal and the beads. The sussuration of cloth against the rasp of metal against the soft notes of thread: if i could see music as i dream music, it would look like this.

AHEM. I always get carried away when i start using metal in my art. If you Google this subject “stitching with metal” or any combination of those words, you will find fascinating references to metal fabrication and engine repair—which can yield up some pretty cool and inspiring ideas actually—-but little information on what we mean. Pity, because there is  eyecandy, tutes, books and supplies out there on this subject.

We can be iconic with metal:

Metal and Lace Music | Mixed MediaFrom Eileen (?)


Metal and Lace Music | Mixed MediaAnn Parr, metal doll.


Metal and Lace Music | Mixed MediaAbove, Gina Ferrari. Below, Ann Parr.

Metal and Lace Music | Mixed Media

Metal and Lace Music | Mixed Media


Metal and Lace Music | Mixed MediaAbove Jill Kennedy. Below, Trish Hassler:

Metal and Lace Music | Mixed MediaArlee Barr, below:

Metal and Lace Music | Mixed Media

The Art of Stitching on Metal, Ann Parr:

Metal and Lace Music | Mixed Media

Sorry, Ann doesn’t seem to have a website or blog.

This Lustre’d Cloth Alysn Midgelow Marsden:

Metal and Lace Music | Mixed Media
Her book is not available from Amazon anymore, but you can purchase it easily and inexpensively here, directly from her.
Her Flickr

Paper, Metal, Stitch, Maggie Grey:

Metal and Lace Music | Mixed Media
Buy here.

I have a copy of each of the second and third books—-both are excellent. The first one is purely metal work on textiles, with various treatments; the second covers more media and is wonderful for experimentation. Alysn’s book is my favourite though, as most of the “supplies” are easier to get.

I couldn’t find a lot of tutes either, or websites! There’s one here on Quilting Arts, and for the others i’ll send you to my blog :)They are for machine work, though i’ve combined hand stitch or beading with them on occasion, but some techniques could be adapted to hand work, if you are clever.

Boxed up / Patterning on Metal, part 1 / Patterning on Metal, part 2 / Patterning on Metal, part 3 / Ideas and tips

My metalwork  photos

If anyone knows of others, PLEASE add them to the comments, or email me!


Arlee Barr is a Canadian artist, working primarily with textiles. She describes herself as “curious, eccentric and just a little opinionated“.  Surrealist in thought, Fauvist at heart, Arlee likes the eclectic, explorative and absurd. Sprinkled around the interwebs, she can be found hanging around her fantastic blog.

Jamie "Mr X Stitch" Chalmers

Hi, I’m Jamie “MrXStitch” Chalmers and since 2008 I’ve been on a mission to change the way the world thinks about needlecraft.

Use the menu or search box at the top to see what stitchy goodness you can find!