CETG Meeting on Monday 9th March 2020
Our Speaker – Georgina Bellamy
Her Subject – A New Way to Goldwork
Here is an overview of Georgina's talk on the night along with some photos taken on the evening.
Goldwork embroidery is traditionally very flat, and has its roots in China up to 2000 years ago. Tradition is very important in goldwork, and when Georgina studied for her City and Guilds, it was the “elders” who taught her everything she knows. She has now been a teacher herself for four years.
When she starts an embroidery, Georgina begins with a drawing. All of the animals she produces have a story behind them. She enjoys raising the surface, using stumpwork techniques sometimes with wires and tubes. She showed us photographs of one of three reindeers that she made for the TV programme "Kirsty’s Handmade Christmas". She doesn’t usually use armatures (an open framework on which embroidery can be supported) for her creatures but for the reindeer, this was the first time she used this technique.
From this exposure on TV, she landed a job in a design studio. Unfortunatley, the pay was poor and she found (and still finds) it hard to let go of a piece after investing so much time and energy in the work. After this, she made pet portraits – one example she showed was “Sully” a tortoise.
Georgina then told us more about the history of goldwork. There are traditionally many different types of techniques, going back to the 15th Century in Europe. High relief surface embroidery came about after completely flat work before this. British goldwork is traditionally flat. Italian goldwork is often worked over string. She doesn’t use this technique very much as it is quite laborious. Russian work is all detached and then added back in, and pearls are often used. Indian goldwork is stunning, and Zardozi embroidery is particularly nice.
As a child, Georgina was obsessed with frogs and “Lady Frog” was one of the first things she ever embroidered, using chip work and no armatures. She has now been practicing this technique for about 10 years. The 3D Panda was another early piece - her first 3D animal. The animals are quite heavy as the “threads” are all metal. Her foundations for the animals are made using a manipulation of felt - in effect a felt base. She uses basic cotton thread, double, and also us translucent thread. Her 3D Lizard has gone to Australia. She is now trying to raise as much money as possible for a charity helping koalas in Australia. She is the ambassador for the charity and hopes to raise $10,000 this year.
We were shown a slide of “Teeny Weeny”, a small frog the size of the top of her thumb. She is studying how to do animals in different sizes and scales, which she finds an important exercise to learn. She has also made “Giraffe” which is about half a metre tall. She uses beading needles for her work as they are very long, fine and flexible needles. All of the animals start with a shape. She often creates a pattern piece separately and then adds that back onto the main shape. She likes this way of working and enjoys building the layers up to raise the surface. When teaching students, Georgina works on organza which is then cut away and stitched at the back.
Georgina passed round lots of examples of her work which were exquisite. Someone said the gold thread almost looked like beads. She said she had an article in the Beadworkers Guild which said her work was made entirely from beads!
Goldwork is all couched on the surface so that no thread is wasted underneath. There are now so many colours of wire available - around 60 to 70 colours. She has a shop which sells a large variety. She is creating her own range of purls with colours that no-one else will have.
Georgina holds workshops. She says there are no mistakes in goldwork, everything can be adapted as you go along. Even if something is not perfect, it still looks good!
Georgina is hoping to produce animals from many different countries in the future. Her next project is mythical creatures.