Written by Jocelyn Huang
If you have missed out on this event, SUSScribe to the official Alumni WhatsApp Broadcast to be among the first to be alerted on upcoming events and happenings. Save 9459 8603 to your phone, and send us a WhatsApp message “SUSScribe” to signify your consent to be added to the broadcast list. SUSScription is free. Simply click here to SUSScribe: https://wa.me/6594598603
Embroidery may be a better-known craft than goldwork embroidery. Goldwork embroidery is the most regal and luxurious of embroidery techniques that encompasses embroidery with all types of metallic threads and is believed to have originated from Asia about two thousand years ago. Historically, it was popular with royalty and was once accessible only to the wealthy to adorn ecclesiastical textiles, military uniforms or bestowed as gifts among the elite.
Goldwork differs from other surface embroidery techniques as it involves working with gold wires coated with low grade gold and/or metallic threads that are wound around a silk core in colours such as gold, silver, copper or rose gold. These threads are laid on the surface of the fabric by couching, a technique that requires a second thread to secure them in place. You can watch this video for more information about couching.
Intrigued by the fine art, 19 alumni and their guests attended the goldwork embroidery workshop to learn the basic techniques. The 3-hour event was conducted by Naiise on 21 September 2019 at Wisma Atria.
Our experience began with us choosing and tracing one of the two given samples onto the embroidery fabric. Most of us preferred the vine twining around an alphabet of our choice, while a few others opted for a flower within two diamond shaped outlines.
It seemed an easy-peasy task at first, but it soon became challenging when we started couching. The room was quiet as we gave our fullest attention to every stitch we attempted. The entire three hours proved to be a real test of our patience.
To produce a fine piece, the fabric was pulled taut and secured with an embroidery hoop. It was also important to carefully plan the direction of every gold thread. For uniformity, the needle was held at an angle to ensure that the passing threads were as close together as possible and at equal distance in ‘bricking’ pattern. Metal threads were carefully squeezed to achieve sharp corners. It was however a challenge for most of us to maintain a bevelled gold edge where metal threads meet.
In the end, it did not matter which design we had chosen because none of us could complete our amateurish goldwork embroidery in time! However, we were allowed to bring home materials so that we could pick up where we left off. Although the work was uncompleted, the sense of satisfaction in having learnt a new skill was complete.