Following my last couple of posts on why I wasn't happy about my latest project, Carbonifera, I've had loads of great feedback and good ideas on what to do next, both in the comments and by email.
In no particular order, Jane suggested placing the couching stitches closer together and using silk, Rachel also suggested using silk, in particular Filoselle, for the coloured areas, and Cynthia pointed out that the key is to use the same thickness couching thread, whether coloured or not. coral-seas offered some tips from Japanese embroidery, including twisting the laid thread so that should couch down better, especially at the end of a row, and Shirlee suggested Madeira machine metallic threads for the couching, as they don't stretch. Elmsley Rose had a whole list of suggestions on different silks to try, and the possibility of painting the background fabric, so that if there are any gaps, they aren't obvious.
Cynthia also had a hunch that I may go back to this project, and you know what...
I had family staying over Easter, and showed them the work so far. No-one could see what I was having a fuss about. When I pointed out the spaces between the threads, it turned out that people actually liked them! Depending on the angle you look at it from, the gold area can look solid or have a more open, almost basket-weave appearance, which everyone thought had been intentional until I told them it wasn't.
So the upshot is, after everything I said, I'm going to to finish this piece after all, and without changing the threads or techniques. But, I know that it isn't how I wanted it to be, so once it's done I'll buy a range of the threads everyone has suggested, and play around with them to see what works best.
Thanks, everyone - all your comments and suggestions have been hugely helpful!