Adding gold to blackwork

Feeling a little adventurous, I decided to begin the bead work on the Blackwork Hearts and Flowers project yesterday. It is so much fun to do something different with my needle! Attaching the little paillettes and beads wasn’t difficult but it was fiddly – very fiddly.

I started with the curved area above each of the tulips. Here the design has dots where I’ve applied gold paillettes topped with black beads. The little lines to the right of the dots in the photo will be covered with short pieces of gold bullion.

Then I moved onto the dots that surround the hearts and that’s where I’m unsure about what looks better.

I intended for the two areas of beading (around the hearts and above the tulips) to be the same beading but in reverse color – the beading surrounding the hearts would be black paillettes topped with gold beads and above the tulips gold paillettes topped with black beads. You can see what the heart beading looks like below. When seen just with a single heart, I think it looks fine.

However, seen in the context of the whole piece, it doesn’t look like I wanted it to. What’s wrong? Well, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’d say it looks a bit too modern or mass produced or…something. It’s just not right. Maybe too many bumps from the beads – too much texture. I don’t know, but it doesn’t look the way I imagined it would.

I also feel it detracts from the blackwork stitching. After all that work, I certainly don’t want beads and paillettes to be the focus of this piece! So I decided to try something different, maybe a bit more traditional. I surrounded one of the hearts with gold paillettes without any beads.

When I asked my husband which he preferred, he said the gold paillettes alone were better than the paillettes and beads together.

The edge of the whole design will be bordered in gold as will the center and there will be gold in the leaves. I’m leaning towards the gold paillettes alone around the heart shapes. I think I’ll like it better and it is more traditional looking, which is my goal for this project. If you want to give me your opinion on which you like better, I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment below!

Next time, I’ll show you how I’ve attached both the paillettes and the paillettes with the beads. Now, back to stitching!


8 thoughts on “Adding gold to blackwork

  1. Hi Kathy,
    I agree with you that at the moment the beads on top of the gold looks over the top,but I would not unpick it until you have done some more goldwork as it might then balance it out and give it a different dimension.
    Have a nice day

  2. Hi Kathy,

    I’m with your husband on this one. I like the paillettes alone rather than the ones with beads on top. I like the flatness and the single colour, and the more traditional look. I also like the way they let the blackwork breathe. The beads seem to fence it in.
    Anyway, that’s my two bob’s worth.
    By the way, I like the blackwork design. Have just discovered your blog and enjoy it very much.
    Regards from Australia,

  3. Hi, Kathy! WOW – I love the way this design is turning out. It’s really beautiful. I’m with the “no beads” look, too! And if you’re outlining in gold, if you want that gold-and-black look that the beads give you, maybe outlining with a stretched pearl purl, couched with several strands of black silk in each “valley” of the stretched pearl purl, would give you the gold-and-black look on the outline… and the pearl purl tends to look beaded, especially when stretched and couched with a color.

    Yikes. Not trying to advise here. Just playing with ideas in my pathetic head about what I’d like to do with a similar design!

    Anyway, later this week, I’m going to start posting some Hungarian patterns, a few of which remind me of this pattern you’re using for your blackwork project. I’ll link up to your project to demonstrate how the Hungarian folk patterns can be adapted to other techniques, if that’s ok with you!

    It’s really fun watching this develop!


    • Hi Everyone and thanks for all the creative input!
      I’m glad that blackwork is calling to you MzMary. I hadn’t ever been very interested in it but wanted to try something new and, I must admit I like it! I’m more drawn to the older, traditional uses of blackwork rather than the modern interpretation but then that’s how I am in all things!
      Mary C – typo all fixed and of course you may link! I’d thought about pearl purl with black as the border around the entire shape as well and, after looking at Jane Nicholas’ book Stumpwork and Goldwork, I have even more ideas about how to blend the gold and black.
      Hildegard, you were the first to suggest waiting and I agree. I’m in the process of adding more gold to see if that does makes a difference. But I admit that the beads are still a bit over the top for me!
      Suzy, welcome from Aus! I love the way you described the gold letting the blackwork breathe. Great point!
      Sue, You’re right about the play of light and shadow! Maybe that’s what was bothering me…
      LIebe Grusse !

  4. Hi Kathy –
    I agree with Hildegard – the piece will look different after adding the gold bullion bits. Perhaps even just laying a few pieces of gold in place will give you an idea of how that will look.
    However, as it stands, I rather like the paillettes without the beads. The gold really brightens the piece – adds a sense of liveliness to it.
    It’s been fun following along with you on this one; blackwork is really starting to call to me.
    Happy stitching!

  5. I,too, like the simplicity of the plain gold paillettes , with the adddition of the black bead it seams like it towers over the design and this places everything in the same shadow that and changes the play of light and dark. The play of light and dark in blackwork as always been for me the most important player the design , maybe that is why I’m also drawn to black and white drawings whether it is ink or graphite. The plain gold paillettes while adding stark contrast and texture also allow more light play. I like the design and your choices for fillings. You are doing a great job.

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