Cross stitch embroidery on cork

Completed my latest experiment:

This is embroidered on cork. Not exactly the same cork which is used for bulletin boards, this one is much thinner. But the main idea is the same.

Received this embroidery kit as Christmas gift:

Cork layer is very thin, no more than 0.5 mm (may be even less) and it is glued to some kind of thin fabric. Reverse side looks like this:

To imagine the thickness you can compare cork cloth to a simple drawing pin which I used to keep the cork-cloth pinned to my self made embroidery frame:

It took me around 24 hours total to embroider this thing. This is what I’m thinking about this kind of craft at the moment:

  • Using frame is mandatory for this kind of embroidery. I wouldn’t risk trying to use hoop for this because of risk destroying cork material.
  • For cross stitch / half cross stitch there are laser cut holes. When you need to embroider in between them (this is needed for backstitch) – quality of cork is very important as the needle may slip very easily to incorrect position, make additional hole and you have no way of correcting this as cork would be damaged in that place. Unfortunately, this one was not perfect, so sometimes it was really difficult to make backstitches. Some of them are very long, I’ve tried to use as little stitches as possible.
  • I don’t want to try another one. Maybe I should find out who were original authors of such kits, maybe they use different materials and the experience would be different.

This is what I didn’t like in this kit:

  • No instructions how to prepare cork for embroidery. The cork cloth comes folded in half and the folding line is visible. I’ve spent some time trying to find out what others are doing. It seems most cork embroidery is done using embroidery machines, they buy rolls of cork and have no such questions. Finally I’ve risked ironing this from wrong side of cloth, using additional towel on top and very low heat. Seems this worked.
  • Smell and allergens. Smell of cork and smell of some specific glue which was used to glue the cork to fabric. Also something was causing a rather bad allergy for first 4 days: drying lips and hands after half and hour of embroidery, and runny nose after another half an hour. And I’ve started embroidery after 4 days after unpacking the kit. I’m a bit afraid to think how this would look like if I started embroidery immediately after unpacking… After 1-1.5 weeks from unpacking smell of glue almost went away. I still can smell the cork and I don’t like it.
  • Cloth quality. Cork layer is not even, some places do not have cork at all. And it can’t be due to item shipping damage, there was not loose cork in the packaging. Well, I haven’t seen any other cloth of this kind. Maybe they all are the same. In front of sunlight it looks like this:

  • Floss. Kit includes “mouline Palmira 180”. I was too lazy to find out who manufactures this. Maybe it is a good floss for embroidery on regular fabric, but it frays a lot when trying to use it for cork embroidery.

Happy I’ve finished this, now I can continue with something else. I think this is the only item so far which was finished thinking “I want to finish this as quick as possible so I could get rid of this smell”.


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