Double-sided goldwork Iris
Updated: Nov 12, 2022
Double-sided goldwork iris - How the embroidery was made with gold threads, wires and double-sided couching stitch
Why the irises
15 years ago my husband and me were invited to a wedding. The bride and groom wished that I embroider something for them. I was honoured, but at the same time, I doubted that I was capable of doing the project justice. Therefore, they received another gift.
I contemplated the request for several years.
Two years ago, I finally felt that the time is right. While walking in the garden and making photos I selected iris flowers as a motive.
Ancient Egyptians almost 2000 BCE were supposedly the first to grow iris flowers. The French royal family used it as an emblem – fleur-de-lis. The flower is now present in almost every garden. The flower symbolizes wisdom, faith, and valor.
According to ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Iris is a representation of the rainbow. She carried messages between gods and served the goddess Hera. Her nickname is Golden-winged.
“She symbolizes the rainbow, generally speaking, the goddess symbolizes the connection between the Earth and the Sky, between the gods and the people … In Japan iris has a purifying and protective role.” (Iris, 2006)
Working on the piece
The embroidery sketch was made from a photo from my garden. The photo was simplified to encompass two iris flowers, a ping one and a blue one the bud together with several leaves.
The project was started before I attended Sara Rickards's Deep Dive into Goldwork course and finished it after the conclusion of the classes. If I started the project today, I would make it a bit differently but I managed to include some techniques I learned there.
It's easy to be clever in retrospect. 😊
I used calico fabric as a base and put bluish-brownish silk fabric over that. The motive was drawn on paper and sewn on with thread. The paper was removed before the embroidery was started.
The embroidering started with a felt base, then I embroidered silk thread parts in green, pink, and blue. The next step was making leaves and some petals with 2% gold passing. The thread was couched in an Italian shading manner.
Italian shading is a form of couching where one follows the shape of the design with the passing. Silk thread is used to achieve shading effects.
The metallic thread twist was sewn on with invisible stitching as taught by Sara. 😊 But then I cheated a bit as I finished chipping.
Then the fun part: corrections
I didn`t like the silk shading leaf. Should I redo it, or just supplement it?
As the time was short I decided to supplement the leaf, improve the shading and make the transitions between colours smoother. I also added leaf veins. This made the leaf better, but if I would do the piece again, I would redo the leaf.
After everything else was finished, the blue iris double-sided goldwork passing petal was made. It went better than expected and the Turkish rug stitch was added. The petal was attached to the main piece.
- Composition with visible planes,
- Technically the embroidery is acceptably made,
- Double-sided goldwork embroidery is used in combination with turkey stitch. New, new, new - probably very seldom, if ever used😉
- There was not enough time dedicated to defining the shaded areas,
- Resulting in not perfect silk shading execution,
- In the future, I have to pay more attention to couch the thread next to the previous thread carefully.
The iris leaves are very straight, resulting in a nonflexible appearance. Therefore, the composition is fairly rigid. The flower colours are not natural and are selected to reflect traditional feminine and masculine energies. There may be further three more contemporary irises made, but we will see. Most importantly, the symbolism of the composition is completely dedicated to the couple.
To the couple receiving this piece: I'm certain you will recognise additional layers of meaning.
How does the finished piece look?
double-sided goldwork couching
Twist – invisible couching
Golden Hinde embroidery
Gold passing no 6, 2% gold
Pearl Purl no 2
Bright check no 6
3 ply twist Grass Green
Iris. (2006). V J. Chevalier, & A. Gheerbrant, Slovar simbolov (str. 183). Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga.