Every goldwork embroiderer has a personal favourite thread. Choosing a metal thread is all down to a matter of taste and suitability: certain threads look better than others, and some are more suited to a particular embroidery purpose. What’s can’t be disputed is that Pearl purl, also known as Jaceron, is one of the most popular goldwork embroidery threads of all. So, what makes it so special? Why is it such a satisfying thread to use?
Let’s start with the word ‘purl’. Purl means a metal strip which is hollow at the core and therefore flexible. Pearl purl, or Jaceron is similar in many ways to another thread called Buillion. They’re both constructed in identical ways: they both have hollow cores and share a spring-like flexibility. Because of this flexibility, the thread can be stretched apart slightly which allows for couching between the individual wraps of wire. Pearl purl differs from Buillion because it is constructed around a much wider piece of metal: when it is couched between individual wraps of metal it can look very similar to a string of pearl-like beads.
So what makes pearl purl special?
- It’s pretty to look at and is definitely one of the most attractive threads.
- It’s very versatile.
- It’s also quick to work with.
Pearl purl is made out of quite a thick metal wire, coiled like a spring. It comes in long lengths that you cut to fit whatever line or curve you’re embellishing. It’s one of the harder metal threads, but this is compensated for by the fact that it’s so flexible. In its ordinary state, it takes both gentle and tight curves quite well. In its stretched state it also takes corners and angles well: a firm pinch with the tweezers will square off the pearl purl, or bring it to a sharp point.
Attaching pearl purl to the background fabricCut the length of pearl purl required for the pattern using a sharp pair of scissors. It’s best to cut the metal thread between the coils and leave the length slightly too long, as this can be trimmed off later. Apply a liberal coating of beeswax, or similar lubricant, to the metal thread to make the thread smooth. Lay the pearl purl on to the pattern and position it into the desired shape. Take the couching thread between the coils and through the background fabric, over the metal thread and back down into the background fabric to secure. Keep the spacing of the couching regular: probably every third coil or so on straight lines or gentle curves, and using every other coil for more pronounced curves. At the end of the coil, each of the last 3 coils should be couched to complete. Finally trim off any excess metal thread.