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The Medieval Screen: How Digital Humanities and Embroidery Reawaken Rare Illuminated Manuscripts

This webinar is about a fiber art project: The Medieval Screen created 21 years ago. This room divider displays embroidered patches made from images scanned initially from books about medieval instruments. Included materials on the screen: re-purposed bi-fold doors, painted with medieval art symbols, added laid work embroidery, Inkle-trim weaving, and illuminated brocade material. Later, utilizing a website identified with additional medieval instrument images became the main resource of digital images for the screen. Today, the artist teaches about Archives, Libraries, and Museums (LAMs) that have worked hard to provide many full-text digital copies of rare illuminated manuscripts and shows the many aspects of where to find digital illuminated manuscripts and how they can be useful.

The artist has created over 40 fiber copies of some of these images from a 13th-century manuscript, applying the ancient embroidery stitches over the pattern to make a fiber copy of the images. Described are the stitches used in the screen as the same stitches used in the famous Bayeux Tapestry, how embroidery floss enhances the faded images, giving them a new and different look while retaining their overall historical content. Showcased are the LAMs to search online, how to find rare manuscripts, identify site maps to locate copyright, permissions, fair use, and best practices when citing them in social media. Included will be demonstrations of how to create a pattern from digital images and Iron-on-Transfer paper through short videos. Referenced is The Bayeux Tapestry and completed laid work patches are shown.

This online presentation highlights library research guides’ information about LAMs with historical illuminated manuscripts, links to resources about Copyright, Public Domain, and proper citation. This webinar reminds attendees of the value of digital humanities and may be of specific interest to those who teach anthropology, archives, art, art history, history, library science, and textiles.


Julie Carmen
Julie Carmen is an assistant professor and research librarian at Brooks Library, Central Washington University. In 1998, she began building the Medieval Screen with re-purposed bi-fold wooden doors and used drapes, designed to display various sizes of laid work patches. Learning about and celebrating digital initiatives, various types of research in addition to answering reference questions and teaching Information Literacy. She is hopeful teaching more about digital humanities as a perfect match with laid work will peak the interest of many others, as she has enjoys the creative and relaxing benefits of practicing laid work. She has an MLS and a Certificate in Archives from Emporia State University.

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