G, Goldwork

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating goldwork embroidery and motifs starting with the letter 'G'. Part of a 34-part embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007.

Content description

This is a four-sided book worked in goldwork and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'G'. The first page, on the left, depicts a grasshopper in a field of grains on a heavily textured ground that is covered in a layer of light yellow mesh. Half of the grain plants are worked on the lower ground fabric and are covered by the sheer upper ground fabric, with the grasshopper and remaining plants worked on top of the second layer. The grasshopper’s head and upper body are covered in kid leather and the lower body is appliquéd fabric and bricking. The antennae are stretched pearl purl and his legs are couched check purls and beadwork. The grain stalks are worked in a variety of couched threads and the individual grains are worked in spangles and beads.

The second page contains a large, gothic G on a green silk ground. The upper section of the letter contains chipping surrounded by a variety of couched gold threads. The middle section is in two parts: the upper is done in two patterns of underside couching and outlined in pearl purl, and the lower is covered in kid leather and a couched lattice with beads, purls, and spangles and outlined with gold twist and pearl purl. The outer curve of the letter is worked in a variety of couched threads and outlined with s-ing and gold twist. The inner curve is smooth purl couched in pairs in straight and brick patterns.

The third page contains five motifs on a trio of blue silk and wool grounds. The upper left is a silver or nue piece showing five flying geese in black cotton thread and outlined with a padded satin border. Beneath it, the second and third motifs are a guelder rose with a branch of red berries worked in kid leather and couched circles of smooth purl on stalks of gold twist on a light blue ground. Also on a light blue ground are flowers constructed out of appliquéd kid leather around a centre of beads. Surrounding these three motifs are scattered couched bits of metal that look like the leftover from cutting out spangles. The upper right motif is a goat willow flower and seed pod on a vibrant blue textured ground. The seed pod is cutwork with check and smooth purl and the buds are kid leather with couched cotton thread and French knots to pick out the blooming flowers. The final motif is a silver greater bindweed flower with gold stems on a dark blue ground. The flower is worked in silver bricking in smooth purl and check. The stems are applied in gold twist and the sepals are kid leather.

The final page depicts a copper-toned bird on a marbled orange silk ground. The head and feet are outlined in copper twist and covered in kid leather. The neck is worked in three segments of chipping and chipped spangles. The wings and tail are couched Japanese thread, twist in shades of copper and red, and dark copper check. The tail is highlighted with a twisted and couched silk rope. The bird’s underbelly is done as laid work of copper thread with a light trellis of copper twist over the top. The bird is standing on a surface outlined with copper twist and beadwork that follows the contours of the marbled fabric.

This booklet is one of 34 parts of an embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007. Elliott embroidered a large box which houses 32 four-sided booklets. Each booklet focuses one on letter of the alphabet and embroidery technique whose first letter matches that letter of the alphabet (A for appliqué, B for blackwork, etc.). Some letters have multiple booklets due to having multiple techniques. This large and impressive group of objects was made by Dr Isabel Margaret Elliott (1931-2016). She received her PhD from Cambridge in 1958 and became a paleobotanist at the Natural History Museum in London. It is clear that her love of science and the natural world influenced her embroidery. When she married her husband, Isabel was made to leave her job (as the Natural History Museum was then part of the civil service and married women were not allowed to be part of the civil service). She began to attend classes at the RSN after meeting a woman embroidering for a class run by that organisation. After the RSN she joined the Embroiderers' Guild. She became a Life Member of the Guild and gained her City & Guilds, which enabled her to teach. She was Mistress of Embroidery at Gloucester Cathedral and was a travelling tutor throughout the UK. Elliott produced an immense amount of embroidery, much of which is available to view at


width: 60.5cm
height: 23.5cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework