Wednesday, November 3

Embellishing the seams of a pouch with gold thread

We haven't posted for some time, sorry! Isis just started a great new job (she'll tell you all about later), and I had a busy time at work...

I'm finishing the seams of a pouch in pink silk and gold thread. It's slow work, and I still need to finish the seams at the top. I really like doing this type of embroidery, but I'm not always concentrated enough :-).

This technique involves braiding two loops together while at the same time stitching them over a seam. We wrote tutorials about it here. Most examples of this type of braids were done in two different colors of silk, but I also found some examples in which both silk and gold thread were used:

Staufer, A. (1991), Die mittelalterlichen Textilien von St. Servatius in Maastricht, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung Riggisberg, p 158, a Spanish 135th century pouch, with a braid in green silk and spun gold thread (a metalic strap wrapped around a core)

Schmedding, B. (1978), Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung, p 190, a 15th century Swiss pouch with a braid in spun gold thread and green silk, p 288, p 230, “Reliquienhülle” with braids in gold and blue and gold and red (long strips of brick stitch embroidered cloth, I don't know what they were used for...)

Some notes on gold thread

I think chapter 3 of Nancy Spies' Ecclesiastical pomp and aristocratic circumstance is a nice basic introduction to the different types of metal thread that could be used in the Middle Ages. She gives quite a number of references, and she also included some interesting pictures.

This is another great book, because it describes, among others how, “thin” metal thread used in pouches could be, e.g. around or less than 0.2 mm in some cases: Ceulemans, C. (1988), Tongeren. Basiliek O.L. Vrouwe Geboorte. I. Textiel van de vroege middeleeuwen tot het Concilie van Trente, Leuven: Peeters

In my pouch, I' m using 4 parallel strands of spun gold thread of less than 0.2 mm thick each. It's a metalic strap wrapped around a core. I do think it fits the picture described above, but I don't know what it's made of. I bought this thread at an antiques fair, last summer. The vendor told me it was French, but didn't know more about it. (it's the one on the left)

Here are some on-line shops which sell spun gold thread, with a % in gold or gilded silver:, e.g gold, 2 % wm smooth passing thread nr 4

I must confess that the Benton & Johnson website is a bit of a mystery to me. Has anyone ordered there yet? Does anyone know if they have the type of thread I described above?

If you know of other shops/vendors which sell spun gold thread, we'd love to hear from you! And, if you know other interesting references, we'd love to hear that too :-)