Goldwork must be the most dramatic of the embroidered arts. The smallest addition of metal thread to a piece of embroidery can lend immediate visual impact, and yet the technique can also be beautifully subtle. A design stitched in gold work will be rich in texture, shine and sparkle, and metal threads can be combined beautifully with other techniques.
Goldwork involves the stitching of metal treads and wires onto fabric. The most well known technique of 'couching' secures the metal threads by stitching over them with a matching or contrasting thread, whereas 'cutwork' is worked by taking the stitching thread through the metal 'purl wires'.
Goldwork is a form of surface embroidery, enhanced by the specialist threads. May of the stitches have a comparable surface stitch: cutwork can be thought of as satin stitch, for example.
Although referred to commonly as goldwork, the technique is more properly named 'metal thread work' as the threads and wires involved are available in a variety of colours, from the traditional gold, silver and copper, to beautiful modern hues of chartreuse and hot pink.
Goldwork terms can sound like a lost language, with each thread having its own name and set of sizes, plus the extra tools. But, with just a little guidance you can begin to explore an exciting world of glittering stitches.