Russian Goldwork Year 2

My second year of studying goldwork embroidery has started!!!   For about a week, I almost did not join.  Time has been so stretched for the last year, and studying something in a language I do not speak is not the easiest.  What changed my mind was the regret I would have if I did not continue.  It’s an opportunity that may never come around in my lifetime. The chance to study Russian goldwork with the experts is something truly special.

So here I am in the first week of year 2, and I have my first assignment finished!

The assignment was to use a solid surface and attach the gold thread in a way that hides the attaching thread and makes the gold thread lay in the correct direction after each stitch.  Looks easier than it was (at least for me).  The stitch was confusing, as you can see from my backside.  The backside stitches should look like a herringbone stitch, but I did not manage that until partway through the 2nd section.

I love learning something new!!!

I used Sulky gold colored thread for the nicer parts. The thread we are supposed to use, which has real gold content, is not sold in the U.S., so I’m fudging with what I have.  The closest and most reasonably priced shipping is from a shop in the UK, but it will be a week or two before it gets here.

The art homework I still have to finish. So until next time . . .

Happy Stitching!

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My Russian Collar

For my Laurel elevation, I wanted to make something that included all of the skills I learned this last year studying Russian gold embroidery.  Here’s what I ended up with.

Я делаю оплечье.   Это ложится на плечи для традиционного русского свадебного платья. Я сделал это для празднования с группой  реконструкторов.

Я выбираю схему из исторических золотых изделий.

For inspiration, I used historic pieces of Russian goldwork.

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Ткань я выбрала толстая ацетатный шелковая ткань. Края были очерчены шнурком.

I choose silk dupioni fabric. The edges I outlined with twisted gold cord.

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Настил из толстой пряжи.
I used thick yarn for the flooring.

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Я добавил жемчуг, канитель и стеклянные хрустальные бусины.
I added pearls, kanitel and crystal beads

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Продолжаю шить полы.

I continued to sew on the flooring within the designs.  I used more thick yarn and felt.

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Я шью на жемчуг, канитель, бисер и стеклянные бусины.

More gold cord, kanitel (gold purl), seed beads and crystals.

Законченная оплечье.

The finished collar!


I don’t even want to calculate the hours I spent making this.  If I had to guess, it would be over 100.  There were times I hated it, but then I would see how pretty it was becoming and love it again.  But in the end, I do love how it came out.  I felt so spectacular in it at my elevation!


My awesome husband, Adam, and me right after my Laureling.   The wonderful photographer, April Edwards. She is AMAZING!

If you want to see more detailed pics, I posted them to my school blog:

Джоси Сьюэлл

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Basic Bead Tutorial

If you’re on my facebook, you know I’ve been coping with chronic neck pain. I don’t want to be on heavy pain medications, but the pain gets unbearable at times and causes massive headaches. The pain meds leave me tired and groggy but the headaches leave me incapacitated and mot able to think. On my doctor’s advice, I tried an epidural for pain relief. It worked great for 2 weeks, and then the pain was back to normal.

I want to live! Live a full and productive life! I needed to figure out how to do this. One by one, I thought about what was wrong and have been trying to address them. I won’t go into all of it, but one thing that I noticed helped my neck pain was working on a torch to make lampwork beads.

Art CAN be therapeutic!!

I only learned how to do lampwork a bit over a year ago. My best friend evilly bought a complete lampwork kit from the widow of a very talented SCA artist. I say "evilly" because I really didn’t need another distraction. But, like with anything I learn, I do it with all I have.

In my attempt to understand it better, I made a tutorial to help with the basic bead. Hope it helps!

Go make some art!!
Esperanza de Navarra

What do I put my stuff in?

I’ve been obsessed with totes and bags for ages. I have an entire pinterest board ( my pinterest ) ( my pinterest page dedicated to totes) dedicated to nothing but tote-bags! In the SCA, at least in Gleann Abhann, I don’t see much of a practical bag in use, other than the “man-bag” that many a dude will carry court time refreshments in.

Bags are so useful! The bags I’m talking about are the kind with long thick straps that you can throw over your shoulder and carry a ton of stuff = modern day bo-ho bag. But are they period?

It’s a side adventure, but I want to start looking at useful period bags made of cloth. If you have any pics, post them in the comments. Between all of our combined skills and knowledge, we can bring the bag back to the Middle Ages!!


I’ll start. Found this guy in the “Triumph of Death” by the 16th century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It makes sense. If you are running for your life from a bunch of bloodthirsty skeletons, you really need something practical to stick your stuff in.

To me, I see a nice cloth satchel, almost a “messenger bag,” ​with both and adjustable strap and a buckle flap. How awesome is this?!?!

Off to make some art.

Happy sewing!

Russian Goldwork Embroidery Design from 12th c. Suzdal collar

I’ve been working on ideas for my elevation gown, and of course it must have Russian goldwork on it. The underdress will have embroidered collar and cuffs, and I’m using a pattern found on a 12th century collar from Suzdal.

It’s a design I’ve sketched out a couple of times, both a simplified version and one closer to the extant piece. Like many early Russian patterns, it incorrporates 2 of my favorite motifs: the tree of life and the simple scrollwork.

In case anyone else is feeling inspired to do some Russian goldwork, I wanted to share my sketch. It’s a little cleaned up using the computer, but it should work well.

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Happy Sewing!

OMG!!! I’m Going to be a Laurel!!!!

I’m still dumbfounded. People keep asking me how I feel or what I think, and I keep saying, “I have no words.” I do keep breaking out into spontaneous giggle-fits.

I kinda felt I might be, MIGHT be talked about, but I thought it was for feedback. I have not been blindly walking down the path the be a Laurel, but I did not feel that I was close. 3 more years – I even had the projects plotted out!!!

But it was cool! I could not have planned it better. My friend Olrun and I were called into court. We both assumed it was possibly a thank you because we helped make coronation garb for Their Majesties.

But nope! We both were announced!

Before I babble. . . . you can see it all unfold on Kungaloosh’s photos from the event.

My favorite:


Russian Cuffs – entry 2

Reality strikes home when admit that there are days, sometimes in a row, when I do not touch my computer! 🙂 Seriously! So, how can I blog everyday if I am not on-line?

The truth is that I can not. So instead of beating myself up for instantly flunking my own challenge, I will rework it. 10 blogs in the next month. More realistic for someone who can spend more than one day at a time in the sewing room and loving every minute of it!

Enough of that – now on to the cuffs.

To recap, my next project is to use all of the skills I learned this last year in Ubrus to make a pair of 16th century Russian cuffs. Here’s one:

Pic: “Благовещение.” Иконография восточно-христианского искусства. Web. 13 Apr. 2017

Last time, I worked on analyzing the design pattern. Jelena, my Ubrus art teacher, has spent the last few months teaching us to recognize and analyze the traditional scrollwork on period Russian art. We’ll see this pattern over and over again in Russian embroidery. The symmetry of the curls can change into different patterns, but once you start to look for them, seeing the scrolls helps to pick apart the repeats and re-create what, at first, looks really complicated.

To begin to make your own transfer, you need to make some choices. My arms are smaller than whoever wore the original cuffs. Do I shrink the elements or cut some out? I like to keep the feel as close as I can. As odd as it sounds, taking elements out keeps my work feeling closer to the original than shrinking it. One big reason is that I can not shrink the material I’m going to use. The kanitel (gold and silver purl) only comes in so many sizes.

First thing I do is to sketch the figure out on my cuffs dimensions and get as much onto something that will fit me.

After drawing out the size of my cuffs, I roughly sketch the scrolls onto an actual sized mock-up. Looking at the original, both sides are mirror. That means I only have to really sketch out one side and then flip it.

Taking out the middle figure gives me space to keep most of the flowers. Yay! It’s the flowers I really like. Once I get a good sketch for a transfer, I can use my cheats, aka tracing paper, to make the other side.

Please forgive the pencil smudges. 😉

I get asked a-lot if you can use my images for your work. Please do!! I want making art easier on all of us. If using something I sketched helps you, please do! The only thing I request (not demand) is that you share your work with me. That’s only because I love seeing what you guys are up to.

Sketching out my design was fun, but how will it looks when I start to fill it? Curiosity got the better of me, so I used some copying and pasting to give me glimpse of what it will look like.

I spent more time than I want to admit pasting texture into my sketch, but I like what it’s going to look like!

I’m trying hard not to spend more than 30 minutes or so on each blog. That way I don’t obsess over my writing and spend more time on the art. Today I want to transfer my patter to the green silk and pick through my supplies to see if I have enough. I may, if I’m ambitious, make my own green glass beads to use on this. A bonus is that torch-work makes my neck pain better.


Esperanza de Navarra