After a long interval, a small update on the Benton & Johnson goldwork balloon. Let me start with a bit about the instruction booklet. Besides list of what’s in the kit, there is a very comprehensive list of what else you need, in great detail.
Slightly puzzling from reading just the list: there is a gold thread in the kit marked “for couching”, but the list of “Additional Requirements” also lists “Yellow couching thread which matches the gold”, with suggestions for suitable threads. Will some things be couched using the gold thread that comes with the kit, and others using a yellow sewing thread? The answer to that turns out to be “yes” – the gold thread will be used to attach the metallic leather. Not quite couching, but close enough.
This shows that it can be very helpful and illuminating to read through the whole instruction booklet in a kit before starting (as they advise at the beginning of the instructions). From long experience I’d say it is hardly ever disastrous if you don’t, but it can save a lot of trouble and confusion and running out of threads, so it’s time well spent (even though what you really want to do is get stitching!).
The booklet also contains very detailed preparation instructions, about ironing and framing the fabric. Several methods of transferring the design are mentioned, with one (tacking stitches worked through tracing paper) described in more detail. The instructions also state explicitly that the balloon outline is all that needs to be transferred. Beginning stitchers who feel that surely there ought to be more on the fabric before they start stitching will be reassured by this, and hopefully deterred from adding additional lines that might remain visible when the project is completed.
The next section gives tips for starting and finishing, and then it’s on to instructions about attaching the various bits of felt. It was nice to get some actual needlework done on this project at last !
Things I noticed about this part of the project:
- The instructions are very detailed and helpful. It’s difficult for me to read them as though I’d never done any goldwork at all, but I think someone new to goldwork but with a bit of other needlework experience shouldn’t have any problems.
- the felt shapes don’t appear to fit quite accurately inside the design transfer, and I can’t get the whole balloon to line up with the two half balloons. The first mismatch may be because I stretched the silk fabric after transferring the design, so the outline is probably a bit bigger than it should be. As for the second, could it be because I ironed the tracings on? That could have pulled the felt slightly out of shape, I suppose. I must check the drawings in the instruction booklet; perhaps photocopy them and then cut them out to see whether everything lines up.
When I next get round to this project, I’ll be attaching some of the gold bits – the gold kid leather, to be exact. Shiny…