Gold thread

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Gold thread

Postby she2dd5 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:50 am

A query for all you embroidery experts out there. What gold thread do you recommend for couching and laid work ? I have used one before that I quite liked, but apparently it isn't made any more. I don't do a lot of laid work, but it would be nice to be able to ponce up some kit with gold thread. Thanks in anticipation.

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Postby Neibelungen » Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:36 pm

Technically the closest today is what's called Jap or Japanese thread. However it's mostly made as a synthetic rather than a proper metal thread. (often known as 1,2,3 and 4K Japs)

It's fairly close to the original style of Cyprus and Milanese threads, in that a gold leaf was laid on to thin parchment strips and then wrapped around a silk core. The modern style tends to use mylar (metalised polyester) strip wrapped around a cotton or poly core and tends to be stiffer and less flexible and older threads. The tightness of the wrapping and overlap gives the flexability and amount of turn you can put into a couching thread. The number usually refers to the number of individual threads comprising the core and hence it's size.

Depending on the size of thread you require, and the metal content A Japanese gold No 10,12,16 or 20(usually synthetics these days); a number 4 or 6 passing thread(synthetic, gilt and 2%), or a number 20 couching thread (mostly synthetic but can be made as gilt or 2%)would all be suitable. Probably the later would be a good starting point.
If your doing something like early English work (opus anglicanum) you could also try a back thread as this is softer and can be pulled through the linen easier without breaking or splitting.

I'd tend to avoid the embroidery store type of gold threads as these are all harsh bright synthetics rather than a softer mylar and work with a gilt or 2% gold thread unless your making up practice bits to learn on.

are the two main suppliers of good quality threads.

I'd recomend Bill Barnes at Golden Threads as your first port of call.

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Postby Shadowcat » Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:48 pm

I've always found these people to be very helpful. I don't know if they will have what Andy recommends, but they will know what you are talking about, and be able to tell you.


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Postby dragonskie2000 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:33 pm

I use the real stuff, spun or flat (can be a pain to work with). The *pretend* gold thread may be OK for practice but does not give the effect either in colour or weight. Items, tabletweave or embroidery, becomes so much stiffer and heavier when worked in real gold.

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Postby ViscontesseD'Asbeau » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:26 pm

Check out the Soper Lane website. Somewhere on it there's summat about the only remaining source for true gold thread - I think it's a Masonic supplier, in London.

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Postby GinaB » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:38 pm

Yes, Benton and Johnson are an excellent port of call. They did custom make some gold thread for us (wrapped around a silk core) (Soper Lane) some years ago, and they were very helpful. Apparently, their shop (which I assume is still open) also often has some treasures which are excess to other special orders (they are now part of Toye and Kenning, who make Regalia, Masonic, etc items)

if anyone does want to read the article, you'll find it here-

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Postby Neibelungen » Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:45 pm

Just to clarify and expand a bit on all the comments people have posted.

Both Goldenthreads and Benton and Johnsons supply synthetic, gilt (1/2%) and 2% gold threads. Bill Barnes, who now runs Goldenthreads used to be the production manager of Benton's untill Toyes (their parent company) closed their factory in Southwark and moved the production up to Leicester.

The Toye's shop is in Great Queens street (opposite the Conaught Rooms)and the embroidery thread section is downstairs. I think one of the two Cathy's is still behind the desk there and are very helpfull

Golden threads doesn't have a shop, but can be contacted by phone or via their website. Bill Barnes is extremely knowledgeable on all types of threads and will often help out with small orders and very specific enquiries. I can't recomend him highly enough.

For those of you that read Gina's article, the metal foil strip is known as Broad Plate these days and is primarily used in badge work. Passing thread is mainly used for working in sattin stich. Jap, Couching and and the imitation Jap (T69's, 70's) are the main types used for couched surface embroidery. Passing and couching threads are usually available in gilt and 2% versions, but rarely are Jap threads made in anything other than a synthetic or ocasionally a gilt.
Roccoco and crinkle are often used as edging in later 17th C work.
Purls and pearl purl are mainly used for bullion embroidery badges.

Most real gold and silver threads are sold by weight, usually about 25 grams, with 2% Gold and 90% Silver being about £20 mark and Gilt and Silver plate around the £10 mark . The lesser ones, because of the thinner thickness of metal will tarnish quicker than the more expensive materials. Golden threads were doing 12 gram amounts

I will probably have a small range of these different threads at TORM if you want to see what they are like.

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Postby Sledge » Sat Feb 03, 2007 9:13 pm

Toye Kenning & Spencer have their head office in Bedworth (nr Coventry). They also do mail order. If you live in the area however - it's well worth a visit. They used to have a shop on site - don't know if this is still the case though.

Toye Kenning & Spencer Ltd
Regalia House
Newtown Road

02476 315634


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