I visited Paula Doyle this week in her lovely studio in Staines to work on a thread-painted portrait for a Magna Carta quilt installation. Her group is making four Medieval quilts and four Legacy quilts; these will be displayed at the Magna Carta's 800th anniversary celebrations at Runnymede. Afterwards, the quilts will go on display at Guildford Cathedral for National Armed Forces Day, and will continue to travel to other venues across the UK and possibly the USA.
80 thread painted portraits will be featured on the Legacy quilts. Here I am just about to start stitching a portrait of Angelina Jolie. The copyright-free image was digitized on Paula's computer, and then printed onto Transfer-Eze in five shades: from black to gray to white. I peeled the Transfer-Eze portrait off the backing paper and smoothed the sticky back onto the gold fabric.
The gold background fabric was stiffened using Terial Magic Spray--this spray made the fabric stiff enough to be stitched without a hoop, and it washes away completely when the Transfer-Eze is dissolved after the portrait is finished. _
I thread painted the image using free-motion machine embroidery with the feed dogs dropped, starting with black and working with progressively lighter threads.
This is as far as I got on Monday. When I got home, I continued stitching until I was happy with the result. I then cut away the excess Transfer-Eze from around the image and soaked it in cool water. The Transfer-Eze dissolved away, as did the stiffening. After ironing, this is what the portrait looks like:
Each portrait will be cut into the shape of an oak leaf and appliqued onto one of four panels featuring oak trees. These are symbolic because oak trees are rooted in the Magna Carta Baron’s shields. Here is a close-up of the stitching. Just like an Impressionist painting, it looks better from a distance!
The key message of the Magna Carta is about human rights, so Paula's group chose human rights heroes and heroines to represent the ongoing legacy of the spirit of the original document. The Magna Carta quilters selected people who are or were advocates for all aspects of human rights, from anti-slavery, to education, to women’s rights, to gay rights, to native rights, to freedom of speech, and so on.
I also took the portrait of Oscar Wilde to thread paint. Here is the finished result.
and here is a detail.
Paula will be demonstrating this technique on Justhands-on.TV when they film her next week, so keep an eye out for the show. Also, be sure to watch the Magna Carta celebrations at Runnymede because you'll certainly see images of the complete installation. What a wonderful project and an excellent way to bring quilts to a wider audience.