Tagged ‘gold thread’

Of Golden Coils

December 11th, 2008 by Tricia

During the latest session we had made enough progress on the plaited braid that
we could do some calculations.  Because the gold thread was made specially for
the project,  we needed to know if there was enough to finish the project or if
another round of thread would need to be made.

So we went around on Friday and counted gold coils that needed to be finished
and those that were done.  The count was 62 done and 155 needing work.  We
counted the jacket pieces along with the coif and forehead cloth.  Then on to the
spools of gold thread.  We have been careful to use a spool fully before opening
another spool and keeping the empties all together, just for this purpose.  So we
had 16 spools that were empty and another 48 left that were full.

Putting on the math hat, we were 28% done with the plaited braid coils.  Wow.  That
made us feel good!  The gold coils are obviously the part of the project that we
have stressed about the most.  I am happy to report that all that hand ringing was
for nothing.  I have been surprised by how fast the stitchers have become very
competent at the plaited braid and how the hand is not easy to identify.  One added
bonus that we will be able to see soon is what types of variations we see in the
hands and therefore go back and review existing embroideries to see if we can see
the subtle differences and therefore the number of professionals.

But back to the numbers, we have 28% of the coils done with 25% of the spools.
Phew.  We still have extras to do, the tendrils and centers of flowers.  But I have a
small stash of nine spools from the manufacturing run in reserve and so we think
we are ok.  Now I hear all you out there who want this thread.  I will do
my darnest to try to get some more made – but at least we don’t fear running out of
thread on the project.

The progress per spool was validation of our thread estimation methodology.  If you
look back in the blog, you will see how we counted coils, measured a few and then
came up with the number of meters of a coils to work.  Then worked an inch of
plaited braid and measured how much thread we used.  The estimate is holding
pretty well.

Now how did they do it in the 17th century?


November 29th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Colleen asked how we like the daylight lamps with the attached magnifying arms; her mother-in-law is interested in getting one. I’d like to hear from the embroiderers – I can’t remember where we got the lamps, but I can look. I’m pretty sure we bought what Tricia recommended. Personally, I like the daylight part, but can’t get used to the magnifying lenses. They’re on a separate arm from the light and I haven’t been able to coordinate working with it. What does everyone else think? Any recommendations? I’ve seen a whole variety of lamps and magnifiers brought to the sessions. Some clip to the frame, some are travel daylight lamps (I think I’d like one of those, so it could move from one chair to the other in the living room plus easily go to classes.) one sat right on the taught linen and was a light in a 3-sided box so the light shone very directly where needed.

Thanks to Debbie for this picture. I’m asking Wendy if my first plaited braid is up to snuff – fortunately the answer was yes. Working that stitch is actually fun – you do get a rhythm after a while, the needle finds the path, and you come to the end of the length of thread much too quickly. From how reluctantly the goldworkers put their needles down in the evening, it seems you come to the end of the day too quickly too. Which is probably why the gold is getting accomplished so speedily.

Thank You Judy!

November 6th, 2008 by Tricia

We have to thank Judy Laning for her week of Indentured Servitude to the Jacket (or Waistcoat). We have given her a ‘certificate’ as the human who has worked the most plaited braid to my knowledge. Well, that title will last until at least Friday when the next Indentured Servant might upstage her. We will let you know on that.

Judy did beautiful work. She is looking a bit tired in this photo as it was about 11pm and we had handed out a bunch of candy and the house was buzzing with little kids with costumes on. Judy worked through the whole Halloween thing and had driven back from Plimoth where we had gotten a group working for the long weekend on plaited braid, handing down our experience from the week. We learned a lot from plowing through a bunch of plaited braid. Some of which I will have to do some detailed blogs on next week. We noted an important maneuver that allowed us to pick up incredible speed in working the stitch and gave me new insights on these gold stitches. Let me take a series of photos to try to illustrate this for you. When you work only a few inches for a sampler here and there – you never get proficient enough to make statements and conclusions.

I also learned an important thing. The indentured servant will go crazy after three straight days of working on plaited braid from 8am – 11pm. We took a mental health break on Thursday at lunch to see a bunch of samplers at Skinner that were being auctioned off. That was enough and then back to work!


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).

Plan D

November 1st, 2008 by Tricia

This post was written on Tuesday, October 29.

Some have asked what our plan is for the gold work.  We have had many plans.  Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.  Mostly every time someone asked me this important question, I would put my fingers in my ears and sing “La la la la -  I can’t hear you!”.

And thus Plan D was born.  We had originally hoped that funding would come through and allow us to hire some fast needles to work the gold. That was Plan A.  Now we are drafting a smaller group of volunteers
and training them.  We are having them work every other coil so the variation of people will be less easy to see.  By the end of next week we will know how that plan is working out as two people are going to work on this one piece for a week each.  Hopefully we don’t have to implement Plan Q.  That’s the one where Tricia does all the plaited braid.

I will also let you know by Friday if Judy is a babbling idiot from too much plaited braid.  Here is her day 2 progress.  You can see how she is skipping every other coil to let another person work in between. We also learned an important piece of data.  About 3 to 3 1/2 coils per spool of gold thread.  I will be counting spools on Friday to see if we will need to order more or if our original estimate is holding.


Golden Vines

August 6th, 2008 by Tricia

Tricia writes:

Today we took a deep breath and started the goldwork on the jacket. I am in town all week working and couldn’t wait to start putting the gold to the jacket and making it come alive. I picked the collar as the silk work was all done on it. Here you can see part of a line
worked and on the second photo, you can see the coil done and a few tendrils worked in reverse chain.

The first gold stitches on the jacket!To get going, I had to do a few tests to figure out what spacing we would use between repeats of the plaited braid. On the original jacket, the “v” is deeper than our version. I find when working with this stitch that the stitch width can be modified and the V is either
shallow or exaggerated. While one of the tests was able to get the same elongated V as the original piece, it seemed a bit sparse but worked faster and easier!. We don’t know exactly how thick the original thread was but I suspect it was thicker than what we are working with, which would have covered better even when worked with a larger spacing. I also suspect that it was more ductile and their needle had a larger eye but thinner shank. We had to change parameters on the thread to get it to work well and
Vine and tendrils on the collar. couldn’t use such a thick thread. We will work ours more shallow to get a nice coverage with our (I think) thinner version of the gold thread.

Jill said it was much more bright and sparkly than she had imagined!


Dye Days

August 1st, 2008 by Jill Hall

To answer Robbin’s question, there will Not be plaited braid stitch instructions in the needle-gold thread kit, so go ahead and order Linda’s from Calico Crossroads. There’s a link in the upper right portion of the blog home page. Go to her searchable catalog and look for plaited braid stitch. That should bring up the $6 + shipping packet of full-color instructions. If you have any trouble you can email Linda through the contact page on her website.

Thanks for the note about the comment box being overrun by text. Unfortunately we’re between Webmanagers right now; I sent Rich a note about it on his last day. I don’t think he laughed, but only because he’s not that kind of person. He did say that issue was already on the list for the interim guy to work on, but I have a feeling the interim guy had a lot more on the list….cross your fingers that another talented webmanager wants to work here and we find him/her soon.

Looks cushy, but hot, hot, hot - dyeing outside the Crafts Center, July, 2008.Here are two tantalizing pictures of the excellent stuff Penny, Emily, Lacey, and two volunteers from the Landmark program did here on Tuesday and Wednesday. I know Pen, Emily, and Lacey want to blog about the whole experience, so I hopefully won’t be treading on their toes by posting these two. The first is their cushy setup outside the Crafts Center. Chairs! And a tent! It looks comfy, but it was scorching hot those two days.

The second is some yarn gently simmering in madder, I think. Yarn in the dyepot and flip-flops!

They all had an excellent time, worked really hard but said it didn’t feel like work; the visitors loved it, the other Crafts Center artisans loved it, and Penny’s so pleased she’s already talking about doing it again in September. That much makes it a ringing success. But they also got loads of gorgeous yarn out of the deal, and that’s just gravy. They all three looked really tired on Thursday, though.

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.


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