Creating Textile Faces

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Painting and drawing faces is very difficult and it is no different when it comes to painting a face using thread.  The techniques I use to create faces in my work has evolved over time, increasing the use of thread as my confidence and skills have grown.

The first textile faces I worked on was in my piece a ‘Quilt for Lauren’ in 1991, here I airbrushed the silk with different tones to get the flesh / skin and then embroidered the features on top.  I used Bondaweb to attach the face onto the silk background and then embroidered the hair so it would anchor the face.  Over the years the embroidery on the Bondaweb has caused the faces to crease and harden the fabric.

In my second quilt ‘A Quilt for Jade’ I used the same technique as above except that the face and body are all one piece.

I no longer use Bondaweb for faces because it changes the texture of the fabric over time and is not suitable for the kind of work I am doing.

In ‘Is Tea Ready’ I used silk that was then silk painted and then entirely surfaced it with free motion embroidery.  The whole face was completed using Maderia threads with a large variety of different shades of thread used.  In order to create 3D effects here I stitched in many different directions.  However I feel that the free machine embroidery did not provide enough finesse or delicacy needed for facial features.

Therefore when I complete ‘Shared Jeans’ the faces have a silk background that is silk painted and covered with free machine embroidery, but the eyes, nose, mouths and directional lines are completed by hand.

Completing the face of my eldest daughter in ‘Shared Jeans’ had many challenges, more information on this can be found here.

In my piece ‘David’ I hand embroidered his eyes, eyebrows, mouth outline, nose, directional and character lines before thread painting his skin and hair with free motion embroidery. I inserted felt beneath David’s face to create a soft skull structure for a three dimensional effect.

In my most recent piece a ‘Self Portrait’ I used the same process of building a skull structure with felt and padding underneath.  The face is hand embroidered and I tried to create depth to the lines in my face without ageing it too much.

Other Techniques

Fabric Painting – Flowers

I decided to recreate my painting Abundance as a textile. Above – Abundance Painting (Acrylic on Wood) I usually use silk paint when painting onto silk however with this new textile I have used fabric paint and silk dye.  I wanted to create a detailed fabric picture, in the past fabric paints would often go […]

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A portrait of David

I took several photos of David to work from. Lots of reference photographs are vital, good photos are key to embroidering detail in the later stages.

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