Saturday, January 28, 2017

Alison Smith's Silk/Wire Posey

Alison was with the UK Casket Trip when we saw the most lovely posey!  I will put it at the end of this post so you can see how AMAZING Alison did figuring out the technique.  It was certainly one of those types of things that everyone who looked at it wanted to figure it out.  So I am thrilled to award Alison the 1st place prize in the Traditional Poesy category.  Maybe some of us will get a little class in this some day from her!

Inspiration – by Alison Smith

A spray of flowers from the Burrell Museum (accession # 29/171) which is attributed to the 17th century.  It appears to be made from expanded bullion formed into shapes, but it most likely was a heavier gauge wire tightly coiled, perhaps just for this purpose.  [After having worked mine with existing 21st c. bullion, I found it didn’t have quite enough body to handle the preferred tension of the silk, and a heavier gauge wire would have been much better.]  The shapes were then wrapped with fine silk filament, sometimes in one direction and sometimes in two.  Various methods of making flower centers were utilized including bullion, leather bits, coiled silk, and what looks like turkey work – “fuzzed” silk tufts.

Technique - by Alison Smith

My poesy is a smaller version flower spray to easily fit into any of a number of places in my casket.  It is made using S/P Fine 1 Bright Bullion – about 15-1/2” stretched made 5 flowers (about 41 petals of varying sizes) and 10 leaves.  These “frames” were then wrapped with Soie Perlee, stripped to single strand and then each strand separated into 3 finer strands (for the frames for flower petals and light green leaves).  The dark green Soie Perlee would not separate so the stripped single strand was used for those, and to wrap the stems.  The flower centers were done using Gilt Fine 1 Wire Bullion, Gilt Fine 1 Bright Bullion, Gilt #6 Bright Check, Soie Perlee in Spring Stitch and Soie Perlee wrapped and “fuzzed”.  I used 34 gauge silver wire for connecting petals and leaves, and 30 gauge green covered copper wire to form main stem structures.  Final size is about 3” h x 1-1/2” w.

Here is a close up of the inspiration poesy in the Burrell Collection that Alison used as inspiration:

The Burrell Collection accession # 29/171 


  1. When I was growing up in Lancashire in the 50s/60s my family had a vase of flowers, possibly roses, made in this technique by a male neighbour as a hobby. I didn’t pay much attention to them at the time until a few years ago I came to photograph and research 29/171 in the Burrell Collection. The same technique is seen in undated reliquaries (possibly as early as C17th) in Stephensdom in Vienna and there is an old craft in Malta named Ganutell (various spellings) which looks similar. But none of the examples I have seen are as small and exquisite as Alison’s fantastic flower spray. Congratulations Alison! Chris

  2. Your flowers are beautiful, Alison! GP