RSN Goldwork: Finished and ready for assessment

My finished goldwork piece, the Bishop’s Crosier, is now in London at Hampton Court in the Royal School of Needlework waiting to be assessed. Although the mark I’ve earned means a great deal to me, it matters more what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve learned. To have completed a goldwork piece worked entirely in metal threads for the first time is an accomplishment. If I worked the piece again, I know exactly what I would now be able to do to a higher standard.

The aim of the course, as stated in the brief from the RSN is;

“To produce an embroidery which demonstrates technical competence in basic Goldwork. Your own design will be worked on cotton velvet or silk dupion, using the threads provided and including the techniques specified in the brief.” ✓ Tick

The techniques that must be included in the piece are;

-An area of brick stitched Japanese thread over felt padding. ✓ Tick
-An area with a combination of couched threads over felt padding. ✓ Tick
-Some Pearl Purl outlines ✓ Tick
-An area of solid chip work, over felt padding inside a Pearl Purl outline ✓ Tick
-Smooth Purl cutwork over soft string padding. (Bright Check cutwork
can also be used, but cutwork must include Smooth purl.) ✓ Tick

The assessors will be looking at the following criterion and marking each student’s work according to their degree of success in achieving each of the criterion.

Cleanliness and Overall Appearance

Paint lines are not visible
Fabric is clean with no wax marks

Couching Stitches

Good tension throughout stitches; evenly spaced
Sharp turns; Rows do not overlap
Evenly stretched pearl purl with no stitches visible
Neat plunging

Cut work

Correct angle
Correct length with minimal cracks
Smooth and even tension

Appropriate Choice of threads

Suitable choice of thread(s) for each particular area.
Effective use of different threads where they have been used together


Felt is not visible
All felt padding has a smooth appearance
Soft string has been cut away gradually with no obvious drops in height


The board has been cut accurately with 90 degree corners and smooth edges
There are sharp corners
The work is mounted on the grain of the fabric
Sateen is straight and taut with no slip stitches showing
There are no puckers in the fabric

During the two weeks I was working on this piece, I was completely involved and focused. Never has a piece of embroidery captured my imagination as this one did. Working with hard metal threads on the beautiful silk was such an interesting and challenging combination of materials. I will be interested to see what the assessors have to say about where I can improve and if their suggestions are in line with my own evaluation of my work.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement and praise during my course – you are all lovely classmates!


13 thoughts on “RSN Goldwork: Finished and ready for assessment

  1. Dear Kathy, Your Goldwork piece is absolutely stunning! Brilliant work and I am sure it will gain high marks from the RSN.

    I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful blog and to let you know that it has been such a source of inspiration and knowledge for me. Next week I begin my own Jacobean certificate course in San Francisco. It won’t be an intensive 8 day, but 8 days spread out over a few months. Reading your blog has been so helpful and has calmed my “nerves”. It is so nice to know what to expect from someone who has first hand experience.

    Congratulations on your beautiful accomplishment!

  2. Your goldwork piece is absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your stitching and knowledge. While you’ve made it look so easy, I’m sure it is not. Well done!

  3. I am glad that you have enjoyed this course so much and feel you have got a lot out of it. I would love to do the certificate and this is the class I would look forward to most of all.

    Your design and finished piece is lovely.

    I hope that your assessment and final make go well.

  4. A beautiful piece of work Kathy. So glad you enjoyed the course and feel you have learned something. It has been a pleasure following along with you. Congratulations on a job well done.

  5. Hi Kathy,

    It’s a beautiful piece and I’m sure will be assessed favorably. I appreciate your describing the process in such detail, it certainly is helping me figure out where I can improve my own goldwork. Well done!

    • This is the most amazing piece I have seen. It hardly seems possible you have been doing embroidery work only a few years. Well done.

  6. Consider doing your own assessment of the work before you look at the assessment from the RSN, then when you compare them you will be able get more insight into the course, the standards, and the details of what they expect.

  7. I don’t do gold work, but this piece is soo beautiful. This piece does stir that interest in trying some goldwork.

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