Usually, when we come to the final installment in the series, we look at the kooky, artsy, modernized interpretation of what we’ve been studying. I have to be honest, I couldn’t find a ton of contemporary goldwork. Mostly I found military dress, ecclesiastical pieces, and artists’ stitching traditional styles and motifs. Maybe it’s the cost of materials that makes it less popular, but I really struggled to find a lot of non-traditional pieces, which certainly isn’t the case when I look for contemporary mirror work or redwork or whatever. Then again, maybe I’m an idiot, and I missed some great work. By now, you guys know what I’m looking for, and if you find some amazing examples, shoot me an email!
So this week will be a little bit different. We’re going to look at some contemporary pieces, as well as contemporary stitchers doing traditional pieces. All and all, this series on goldwork has made me realize that goldwork seems to be a largely untapped medium in stitching and it is ripe for updating. It could be the new sampler! Get to it, stitchers!
First up we have this Goldwork Pomegranate by Mary Corbet.
I love the way the gold plays against the green and red stitching, and the shading is beautiful. It also looks like there’s some beadwork in there, (maybe?) it really gives the piece a lot of movement. * Edit- It was brought to my attention that what I wondered was bead work is actually chips of Bright Check Purl, attached like beads. Thank you to the lovely Carol-Ann Conway for the correction! -P
One of the things we haven’t discussed is Japanese goldwork, called “Or Nue”. Carol-Ann’s piece is a stunning example. I love the way the couched threads are aligned, giving each leaf depth. Just amazing work.
This next piece by Jane Smith, Broom on Treasure Ship, is a detail of a larger piece, but I picked it because I was just blown away by the design and the stitching.
It’s a broom! And it feels like a broom! Again, the way the threads are laid just knocks my socks off. The curved, head of the broom is tight and well ordered, and the base with the straw branching out… I stared at this for nearly an hour yesterday. I can’t get over it.
I really love the way the gold way used in these pieces. The bee feels fuzzy and buzzy, while still retaining that gold inlay bee motif feeling. Classic bee. To me, the beetle seems almost Tim Burton creepy/cool. It looks like it could crawl up the canvas, the way it’s head and “arms” are positioned, and the goldwork body makes it look almost like armor.
Finally, we have a stitch sampler by Love Stitching Red.
I picked this piece because not only does it show couching, which is typical in goldwork, but we also see some knots and tiny stitches. This sampler really inspires me to see what else can be done with goldwork. Exciting!
So, this wraps up our series on goldwork! As always, if there’s a topic you’d like to learn more about, let me know and I’ll get cracking!
Penny Nickels is a printmaker that started playing with needles with tremendous effect. She and her husband, Johnny Murder, have been described as the “Bonnie and Clyde of Contemporary Embroidery” and you can discover the power of her creativity at her blog.
All photos in this article are property of the cited artist. Please click the highlighted links to lean more about their work.
Penny Nickels is a print maker, a former book binder, currently a fiber artist and fledgling writer.