Tracy A. Franklin explores creative contemporary ways of using traditional metal threads
Each sample piece: 6 x 6 cm; Finished size: 32 x 32 cm
Thread up two separate needles with sewing threads, one matching the gold and the other a contrast, and pull the thread over the beeswax. Starting from the corner, arrange No.5 gilt check thread into contoured lines across one of the squares. Catch each groove with one stitch, working 5 or 6 stitches of each colour alternately. Cut the gilt check thread each time it meets the edge of the sample.
Take the No.2 gilt pearl purl thread and, holding each end, stretch out to about double the length. Repeat with the No.2 silver-plated pearl purl thread. Cut the stretched threads into lengths of approximately 15 mm. Thread up two separate needles, each with a single beeswaxed sewing thread, one matching the gold and the other matching the silver. Using the matching thread, attach the cut lengths of the pearl purl to the square by working two couching stitches over each piece. Attach the pieces in a completely random order, slightly overlapping one another.
Cut eight long lengths (no more than 3 cm) from No.6 gilt smooth purl. Cut the remaining No.6 gilt smooth purl and the No.6 gilt bright check purl into 5 mm lengths. Thread up a needle with a doubled beeswaxed sewing thread in a matching colour. Sew down the longer lengths by threading the needle and a thread through the purl (like a long bead). Position the lengths in parallel lines leaving 5 mm between each row. Starting at the top and alternating between a bright check purl and a smooth purl, sew the shorter purls at right-angles over the longer lengths, spacing them 5 mm apart, and again threading like a bead. Work the next and subsequent rows in the same way, arranging the pieces in a 'brick' pattern, as shown.
Cut the No.6 silver-plated bright check purl into 7 mm lengths. Using matching double beeswaxed sewing thread, sew the cut lengths onto the square by catching the very end of the silver-plated bright check purl so that the hole of the purl stands uppermost. Work a concentrated section approximately 2 x 2 cm square in the middle of the square, stitching the purls close to one another so that no fabric shows.
Using single matching beeswaxed sewing thread, couch short lengths (averaging between 5 and 7 cm) of No.13 gold Japanese thread onto the square in a 'vermicelli' pattern. The couching stitches should be approximately 5 mm apart.
Wind the No.2 copper pearl purl around a thin pencil or something similar and then cut into curved lengths of 3-4 cm. Using matching single beeswaxed sewing thread, stitch each curved piece into place by couching over the pearl purl. As you stitch, pull the couching thread gently so that it is hidden in the grooves of the pearl purl. Couch half of the curve, allowing the rest to sit proud. Bunch the pieces together as close as possible, overlapping slightly.
Cut the No.2 gilt and silver-plated pearl purl into lengths of approximately 5 cm. Wrap one silver-plated thread around one gilt and then vice versa. Lay the bound pearl purl in parallel rows, alternating the colours. Using single beeswaxed sewing thread, attach the lengths to the square by working two couching stitches at each end of each row. Allow the stitches to sink into the grooves of the pearl purl.
Cut both the gilt and copper No.6 smooth purl into tiny bead-like lengths. Using double beeswaxed sewing thread, bring the needle up through the fabric and thread on each purl like a bead, alternating the colours. When the desired number of 'beads' are threaded on, take the needle down the length of the purls. Work in parallel rows.
Make knots 2-3 cm apart along the length of the No.13 Japanese gold thread. Cut into lengths of approximately 5 cm. Using matching single beeswaxed sewing thread, couch the knotted lengths into place arranging them in parallel rows and working the couching stitches about 5 mm apart.
At the time of writing, a project pack, containing all of the metal threads needed to complete this project, wass available from:
Threads (Retail), Brimstone Cottage, Pounsley
Mill, Blackboys, East Sussex TN22 5HS.
Tel/fax: 01825 831815