Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Dodecahedrons I and II

In the last post, I described basic goldwork couching. These two pieces, Dodecahedron I and Dodecahedron II, were both made using exactly that technique.

Dodecahedron I, the small gold one, is a geometrical solid with 12 five-sided faces, and is about the size of a tennis ball. For each one, I cut out a pentagon in yellow felt, stitched this to linen which was then stretched on an embroidery frame, and then gold passing thread (Jap gold, in this case) was couched onto it. I went round the edge of the felt shape first, then went in smaller and smaller in a spiral, until all the felt was covered.

When all 12 were done, I cut them out, leaving a margin of a bit less than an inch (about 1 cm), and then mounted each on a pentagon of card, folding the linen margin over the edge of the card. I then stitched these together to make the dodecahedron form. To hide the seams, I couched gold pearl purl wire over them.

Going back a step, if you look at it, it looks almost as though it has more than 12 faces. This is because on each one, I couched soft yellow string (proper goldwork string!) onto each piece of felt; on each one, I went from the centre of the pentagon to each point. When the string was couched over with the gold thread, it forms a five-pointed star.

Dodecahedron II was made in the same basic way, though without the string, and with a circle cut out of the centre of each pentagon. This means that the interior is visible, so after each completed section had been mounted on card, I backed it with a slightly padded deep navy silk satin, to contrast with the silver thread.

Couching is a very simple basic technique, but it can be used to quite eye-catching effect.


  1. Have you tried stitching temari? It looks like you would enjoy it.

  2. I like temari, though I've never tried it myself. Something else for the list!

  3. Hey Ruth,
    Your 3 dimensional object is very inspiring. Can you explain a little further regarding the "card"? Thank you! Christa

  4. I'm glad you like them! The card is just thin cardboard - about cereal packet weight. The card shapes are just to add support and stiffening to the embroidered shapes - cut them out the same size as the finished embroidered sections (i.e. the same as the felt shapes earlier on), place the cut out embroidered shape on the card shape, fold the fabric seam allowance over the edge of the card, and fasten it down. If you're a purist, do this by lacing it across the back with a strong thread, but otherwise glue will be fine - it's not touching the embroidery, after all!

    Once you've attached all your embroidered sections to their piece of card, you can stitch them all together to form your 3D item. Good luck!

  5. Hey Ruth, your site, very interesting, I myslef work as an assistant designer at hand and lock embroidery london, ive been there for a month or so now, i just love the job, I got it after completeign a degree in Textile design at nottingham trent university. Ive alwasy been into my hand embroidery, I work with goldwork embroidery and design quite abit too, its more tradtional militaria regalia that we do there, but some more contemporary fashion marketed projects are afoot too, I love yoru three dimensional pieces, Its nice to see such a neiche specialist technique being applied in more contemopary ways ,

    Vey inspiring

    Scott x

  6. Oh, how I love these! When I was at uni, studying graphic design, I made an unusual three dimensional "mace" out of paper, which had pointy bits sticking out all over it, looking very agressive. It was my own design, and I have remained very proud of it. But I've never thought of making interesting *embroidered* three dimensional shapes. Oh, no! Don't give me more ideas! ;-)

  7. I love the 'mace' idea - maybe purl threads/wires, metallic leather, sequin waste...?

  8. Your work is beautiful and I have only just found your page. I am a embroiderer and have always stayed away from "Gold" threads due to friends getting stuck with fake material. How do you keep your gold from tarnishing ???