A member of the Crow family, these black and white birds have the most wonderfully iridescent wing and tail feathers of green, purple and blue in the sunlight.
I decided to make this Magpie after enjoying the challenge of the Rook earlier this year. At a quick glance the Rook is a totally black bird but it was great to experiment and play with all the ‘petrol’ colours visible when the bird is seen in full sun. The Magpie’s bright colours are more visible but the colour palette of fabrics was similar.
After sketching a quick outline, I chose a simple, small group of fabrics, knowing that the majority of the work in this piece would be threads. Below, the five fabrics used for the bird and one for the backing.
The Magpie, pieced and ready for stitching.
Thirteen thread colours were used in this piece, a mixture of King Tut, Oliver Twist, Guttermann Sulky and YLI machine Quilting threads
As always I started with the face, head, neck and particularly the eye. Using a number of variegated threads I could build up the light and shade in those areas. Once these were complete I started to add the very bright, iridescent threads onto the wings and tail. As you can see above these are too bright and needed toning down with darker threads.
For a bird with such a small simple colour palette he was surprisingly difficult to place on a suitable backing. After trying him against 6-7 colours and patterns I decided to chose a simple light fabric that would not be too dominant.
The finished piece is now available as a print and the original can be seen at the West Country Quilt Show in November.