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Learning with a teacher or with a book?

Can the embroidery technique be learned from a book?

knjige o vezenju z zlatimi nitkami skupaj. vidijo se deli platnic.
Zbirka knjig o vezenju z zlatimi nitmi

The question is not whether one can learn embroidery from a book, the first question should be if one can learn any subject from a book only. Jacotot, described by Jacques Rancier, claimed that self-learning or intellectual emancipation is possible, but my experience is slightly different. In my mind books can be a tool to support learning, but learning with a teacher is quicker and easier. Teachers not only help the learner but systematically introduce new subjects, give away trade secrets and educate on implements used thus making learning faster, easier and more efficient.

As every (good) teacher introduces their own methods, we will dedicate today’s post to books and how they support learning with a teacher.

My favourite embroidery technique is goldwork. As a result, I will introduce/review some books I found most helpful.


Alison Cole: The Goldwork Masterclass, Adventures in Metal Thread embroidery, 2019


  • A short history lesson about goldwork embroidery,

  • Samplers– every chapter introduces one set of techniques and at the end, there is a page filled with examples of techniques described,

  • The author describes techniques one seldom encounters elsewhere (for example double-sided couching),

  • The book contains rich photo material and sketches,

  • There is a chapter about alternative materials ( foils, nets, Tyvek…)

Weak points:

  • Some techniques are only mentioned but would deserve chapters of their own (for example modern Russian padding),

  • It is clear the author would need a much bigger book to present accumulated knowledge.

Emi Nimura: Goldwork, techniques, projects& Pure Inspiration, 2021


  • The author presents the basics also, for example how to prepare a slate frame,

  • There are tons of comparison photos to illustrate materials and their combinations,

  • There are gorgeous examples of goldwork projects at the end (autumn flower brooch, bag with 3d elements),

  • The author is one of the few embroiderers that present the backside of embroidery pieces.

Weak points:

  • Want more of fantastic goldwork projects.

Lizzy Pye: Goldwork embroidery, 2020/21


  • The author presents recommended fabrics, equipment, how to prepare a frame, make a design, and transfer it to the fabric,

  • Many photos to present the order of work for the techniques,

  • There are some other techniques included that can be combined with goldwork,

  • The author is an RSN graduate and the book.

Weak points:

  • The projects at the end are more traditional.



  • When she describes the thread or wire she describes the technique also and the photos present a comparison between techniques,

  • There are many small projects at the end of the book.

Weak points:

  • Description of the technique is described but not presented with photos.

Every book described is precious to me and worth buying. They all helped me to enhance my learning with a teacher and ask the right questions. Visual comparisons of the final look of techniques and combinations of materials helped me immensely. I can hardly wait to find the time to make some of the projects mentioned in the books.

But if you are interested in starting goldwork embroidery then I recommend buying Lizzy Pye and Alison Cole books. If you are more advanced you want to think about Emi Nimura or Hazel Everett books.

I paid for all the books myself.

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