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Highlights: Panel four
The crimson thread
Sharon Peoples initially proposed a maroon-coloured wool for the thread element of the design. Once the embroiderers started working, however, they and Sharon decided to use a brighter crimson-red perle cotton in a different stitch — stem stitch — to ensure the thread stood out from the background.
One embroiderer completed the entire thread so that the stitching would be consistent along its length.
"In my research for the design I came across a Federation speech by Henry Parkes in which he was encouraging Australians to unite on the basis of the 'crimson thread of kinship.' It's such an embroidery quote! It inspired me to use the image of a crimson embroidery thread as a metaphor for Australian history." Sharon Peoples.
The embroidery was created in six separate linen panels. Each panel was stretched by being laced tightly to a wooden frame before being embroidered.
"It was heavy physical work. You needed long arms to work the centre of each panel and sometimes we were practically lying on the frame. Surgical forceps helped pull the needle through the fabric when necessary." June Mickleburgh, embroiderer.
When completed, the panels were removed from their frames to relax. As soon as the lacing was released, the panels buckled due to the tension of the threads. They had to be pulled back into shape to be mounted on special handmade frames for display.