Tagged ‘Bill Barnes’

All that Glitters

November 5th, 2008 by Jill Hall

really IS gold, in this case.

The gold thread for the coiling vines is real gold, and, like the gilt sylke twist, was purpose-made for this project by Bill Barnes of Golden Threads in the UK. It is a gold wire wrapped around two ends of yellow silk thread. I know the next question is whether any is available for sale, and the answer is, maybe. Right now we’re tracking how much thread it takes to embroider the coils and counting spools of thread. If there’s any left over, it will certainly be made available. If there isn’t, and there is huge demand, well, look what happened with the GST. Every time I check, new colors have been added to the line, and two sessions ago there was great excitement when Tricia brought out spools for sale. Not one person around the table said “I want this color”, or “I’d like to have this one”; it was all “I need this one. And this one. And … this one.”


This past weekend’s experiment was exceedingly successful. Judy, who worked mostly at Tricia’s last week, arrived on Friday not babbling incoherently from too much gold work. She was still smiling and stitching and enjoying. Lyn J from Canada, Debbie A and Carli D from the NYC area all stepped up to the guinea pig table and took instruction from Tricia before practicing, comparing, and practicing some more.

Debbie reported that the gold is Not a pain to work with, in fact it is quite durable. She used one length for practice and was able to pick out mistakes several times and reuse the same length without trouble. The end you have to thread through the needle frays a bit, but Wendy reports that if you chew on it a little you can shape it up to re-thread.

Even after four days of coiling vine after coiling vine, Lyn, Carli and Debbie were still enjoying the work. I asked them if it seemed to take forever, because just watching them, to me, it seemed to go much more quickly than I’d thought (feared). They said that in the working it seemed to go slowly, but whenever they sat back to look, more was done than they expected, and less time expired. Lyn claimed to be Princess Slow-poke, but she accomplished several coils and none of the rest of us thought she was going slowly. I think she’s just accustomed to working more quickly than most and so this felt slow.

Here are pictures of Debbie and Carli’s pieces. Lyn was working well past the final bell on Monday, and Wendy didn’t remember to photograph her piece before we put it away. We will take a photo to post on Thursday, when we’re taking some studio photos of individual motifs. I think Carli was working on the right front and Debbie on the back.

Do you want to work some of the coiling vines? Our test group did so well we’re going to do it again. If you’re free the weekend of 11/21-24 (this is the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving – I offered to run a session over Thanksgiving, pointing out that Pen and I will be here anyway, but got no takers), either have practiced the plaited braid according to Leon Conrad’s instructions as amplified and illustrated by Linda Connors, and are willing to work on matching gauge and stitch density, send me a note jhall@plimoth.org We can take 3-4 people to work vines, and a couple more to work silk or GST on the coif & forehead cloth.

We are “pushing” the jacket to completion this winter, in time for display at the beginning of May. I am worried about the winter weather too, look at last year! but look for more sessions in January and February. If you want to suggest dates, send me a note.

In addition to the gold workers, we had three lace makers this weekend. Sue, Linda and Colleen nearly finished the last short piece – the second cuff, as well as the long piece. Colleen also managed to do some embroidery on the coif. There are two new plans afoot – to develop some patterns for white lace to adorn the smocks, coifs, cuffs, and collars of certain characters on our living history sites, and to develop a smaller spangled lace suitable for trimming the coif and forehead cloth. If you’re a lacer and weren’t interested in working metal but might want to do some white lace, let me know and I’ll keep you apprised of progress.

I don’t have much news on the symposium, mostly because I’ve been focusing on getting the interpreters what they need to finish the season. I have a couple of firm commitments from speakers, one probable yes, and I have to get back to the couple I haven’t heard from; the biggest news is that the registration will open first to those who have worked on the piece. They’ll get a 5-week headstart to register and then we will open the registration to everyone. We plan to start this in December, and of course news will appear here and in an email blast to the stitchers/lacers. SO please update your contact information. I know there are some who have changed email/moved etc since coming. If you know someone in that situation, please ask him/her to contact us in order to stay informed. You can update by sending me or Kathy an email or calling 508-746-1622 X 8248 (Penny), X 8119 (me), or X 8114 (Kathy).

There’s Gold in Them Hills!

July 29th, 2008 by Tricia

Tricia sent me this post:

The new gold thread has arrived!As you can see in this picture, the gold threads have arrived. Remember earlier this summer the second trial of gold-silver-copper on silk arrived and was a slight bit thinner than the first trial. It worked well for stitching plaited braid. I excitedly called Lamora at
Access Commodities and let her know that using two silk plies for the core worked and we could go ahead and ask Bill Barnes to make a full run. If you check back in your blog a long while back, you will remember our rough estimates of how much we would need. Over 1000 meters. Well, I was surprised that Bill was able to turn it around as fast as he did – and nothing got caught in customs this time!! Customs has been the enemy #1 of this project. I can’t tell you how any times our supplies have gotten delayed there!

So I have more than 1500 meters in my hot little hand right now. Well of course I had to have extra! Some for me and some for you stitchers out there! Give me a few weeks to get my act together and we will have a little kit for sale to benefit the jacket with a needle and
gold thread and maybe a few instructions thrown in too.

Just in time. Next week the workroom will be a hub of activity. My son is going to summer camp at the Plantation and so I have a great excuse to be there all week. I will be starting the gold work and working on attaching detached pieces. Then we have a session starting
at the end of the week (still have spots if you are in the area for a day). Some lucky ladies may even start couching gold and doing reverse chain with this new limited edition material. Cool.


Selecting the Gold Thread

June 30th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Tricia writes today:

New trial against old.If you remember, months ago we were trying out gold threads for the plaited braid stitch. Bill Barnes of Golden Threads had made a silk core wrapped with gilt strip for us. When it stitched, it was just too stiff to use, which was a surprise to me. When I gave him my comments, he responded that he had used three ends of Soie Ovale for the core and would I wait a few weeks for another sample using just two ends. He was sure it would work. Well – always trust the master!

We finally got the sample two weeks ago (another one of those international shipping dramas delayed it). Shown here is the sample alone and also stitched next to the previous samples that I had done. The thread is thinner but it still gives a nice and dense plaited braid. More importantly, it stitches easily. Well, as easily as a gold thread can! So I gave the green light to have miles of it made.Two ends of Soie Ovale instead of three.

A big thanks goes out to Access Commodities who have been coordinating this for us. They are the distributor of Au Ver a Soie thread and supply the silks that Bill is using for the thread. Lamora’s expertise with international shipping is one of the prime reasons we can make this happen!


Hi Mary, I’m glad it made you laugh. jmh

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