Gandalf, completed June 2013 after roughly 250 hours. Image and design © Liz Heffner.

The intent was to capture some of the style and essence of Medieval manuscript illustration, which hopefully has been successful.

Working with spangles was quite amusing as they wanted to act like tiddlywinks and spring off in all directions. I was certain that I would find some in my hair at the end of the day, but luckily this was not the case. This is also my first attempt at working with Japanese gold and I must say that while it is indeed time-consuming, especially when couched singly rather than double-stranded, I think it is safe to say that I have now been ‘bitten by the bug’.

For those who are not able to read the inscription, it reads:

By the light of the small hearth fire,
Gandalf took the ring from the tongs and was
not burned for it was quite cool.

This references the point in the Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien, where Gandalf tests the ring in Frodo’s hearth fire and discovers the final proof that it is indeed the One Ring. I note that fan conversations are multiple on the subject of whether or not Gandalf actually handled the ring in the book, because the movies of course took quite a different stance on the matter. To me it is clear and not at all ambiguous that Gandalf did indeed handle the ring and pass it to Frodo. He just never put it on his finger!

Gandalf, completed June 2013

Design measures 22cm x 42 cm

Stitch techniques: couched goldwork, laid and couched ground work, split stitch and French knots.

Materials: Japanese gold, gold and silver metallic threads, gilt and silver spangles, 100% silk and cotton perlé.

A few other close up ‘detail’ pictures are available on my Facebook page (Liz Heffner – Artisan).


8 thoughts on “Gandalf

  1. Kerri says:

    I love metallics. Just about everything I do has something shiny in it of I’m not satisfied, so I can relate to your fascination. 🙂 This looks beautiful and so precise.

  2. my mother would love that – she’s a total gandalf groupie

    • lizheffner says:


      I hope you noticed that I finally took your advice regarding ‘proper’ gold, albeit Japanese gold. You were right too. I really wish I hadn’t rushed the end of my last piece and used that awful metallic thread.

      • oh, I forget half the rubbish that falls from my drooling lips, but I’m glad I could be of help. the real thing is a completley different animal, isn’t it?

      • lizheffner says:

        Completely different animal, yes! Cash is a bit tight at present, but I am aiming to get in a few more supplies from Hedgehog Handcrafts, so that I can increase the range of types of gold that I use.

        For the moment, I have a mountain of gilt smooth purl which looks glorious, more of the Japanese gold in smaller weights and a small amount of gilt twist. I think my next planned piece is going to go on hold so that I can do something with these on some purple/pink silk dupion that I have floating about!

  3. Gillian says:

    Again, completely jealous of your immense talent and also patience! Even if I had any kind of useful craft talent, I’m not sure I could handle the time. You’re like a crafting Wonder Woman!

    • lizheffner says:

      You’re too kind, Gi! As for the time, I am mainly able to do this because of the support of my family, in particular my lovely husband! I should probably do some housework one of these weeks though, heh!

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