As a stitcher and embroider, you use threads as a tool for bringing a design to life. They’re not just for adding color, however. Depending on the kind of thread, they can add a different texture or a special effect, which makes the end design all that much more interesting. Look around you right now: are your surroundings flat, all one texture, totally matte, all one type of surface? No, the world is varied, and pretty darn visually interesting.
In addition to color, metallic threads add light to a design. To get technical for a moment, metallic thread is made from a polyester film that goes through a vacuum process to coat the surface. The materials used for this film can be aluminum, silver, gold, holographic, transparent, iridescent, etc. These threads are literally created to shine.
Why would you want this in a design? Well, basically, to make it more visually interesting. Why do you wear silver earrings, or a gold necklace? Why do we wear metallic nail polish or lip gloss? Why are fish naturally attracted to shiny things? The light reflection of something metallic gets our attention, jazzes things up a bit, or communicates stimuli of some sort. That’s just science (or nature).
I want to showcase the beautiful work of Sam Packer, of Workshop On The Web, to illustrate the idea of adding light to designs through choice of thread. Sam is a mixed media artist who also writes for that quarterly textile e-publication. (Note: You can get a “taster issue” of Workshop on the Web from their website.)
Take a slow look at these photos to study how metallic threads add the element of light on a contrasting backdrop. Then consider how you can use metallics to add light to your next project. It doesn’t matter if you are a cross stitcher or a mixed media embroiderer, a costume designer or a paper crafter, a needlepointer or a jewelry maker; the end result of mixing up your thread types is going to be so much more stimulating….dare I say, dazzling, dahling. Go for it.