Old Coach Road Flora

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Old Coach Road Flora 155 x 96 cm Linden Lancaster 2022

Walking the Old Coach Road alongside our property has become a source of great delight since the lockdown in 2020. My husband and I have discovered hundreds of different plants, including some rare ones. I have used the process of ‘wet cyanotype’ to record a few here.

Cyanotype has been around a long time as a monochromatic photographic device since the 1900s. The algae specimens of Anna Atkins (1852) is worth checking out. These days cyanotype can be done in various colours, but I love the blue.

Here I have experimented with the addition of water spray, turmeric, salt and bleach on various types of fabric, including linen, cotton and silk. The additional fabrics are mostly screen printed with thickened dyes, with a few commercials thrown in for good measure. The piece is predominantly hand stitched with free motion quilting pulling everything together.

Old Coach Road Flora detail Linden Lancaster 2022
Old Coach Road Flora detail Linden Lancaster 2022

You can view this quilt at the ‘DARE TO DIFFER’ exhibition which is on at the moment at the Gallery M, MARION centre in Adelaide, Australia, until September 22, 2022.

Something Different- ‘Snails on the Table’

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In the past few years I have been sorting and cleaning out my mother in law’s old farm house. She was a ‘saver’ and never threw anything out. She lived in this house for most of her life.

There was a lot of ephemera and old clothes. After studying the works of artists who work with preloved and ‘found’ fabric and papers, like Mandy Patullo, Mrs Bertimus, Ann Kelly and Cas Holmes, I have been making samples using Mum’s old stuff. In a previous blog ‘Vintage Concertina book’, you can see some of the fabrics I have collected.

Responding to the Australian Quilt Show’s prompt ‘Recycled and Restyled’, I have put together a quilt entirely from tables cloths and aprons.

This is a rather quirky design and a departure from my usual style. I adapted some childrens’ drawings I collected many years ago in my music teaching days (from a listening and responding exercise on ‘fast and slow’).

It was very enjoyable working with these soft and worn fabrics and combining them with a contemporary spin.

This piece is travelling around to the Craft and Quilt Fairs associated with Expertise Events.

‘Snails on the Table’ Linden Lancaster 2022
‘Snails on the Table’ detail Linden Lancaster 2022

Blue-green Algae

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This piece is a finalist in the 2022 Australasian Quilting Convention challenge.

The theme was ‘Going Green’.

Blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria) are naturally occurring organisms that live in waterways. Under certain conditions they go crazy and reproduce expeditiously forming ‘toxic blooms’ that impact the environment. These conditions include excessive nutrients (often the result of fertilizer run off) and hot, dry seasons. Decomposing algae brings a depletion of oxygen in the water, leading to fish kills, and makes the water hazardous to drink or come in contact with. Throughout Australia, the potential for blooms is increasing…..a ‘going green’ not to be admired.

Cotton fabrics, silk organza, tulle, polyester and metallic threads.

Hand-painted and printed with thickened dyes, raw-edge applique, foiling, painting, free-motion stitching.

Middle of Nowhere…Picola

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This quilt was recently a part of the at the ‘Australian Quilts in Public Places’ exhibition at the Whitehorse Gallery in Melbourne. The theme was ‘Where in the World?’

This is quite an experimental piece and based on a google map of the tiny town closest to where I live.

‘“Blink and you miss it”, I tell people travelling to my place.

A tiny Australian rural town like many others, but scratch the surface and you’ll find unique people, flora and fauna.

Parts of the map where enlarged and painted directly to a silk screen. I then printed sections using the breakdown method with dye paste. I was looking for organic lines and marks depicting trees, dams, roads paddocks, etc.

Houses were appliqued and other details stitched in by machine and hand. Overlays of printed silk organza with birds and leaves were added toward the end. It was difficult to balance all the elements in this piece, but I’m fairly happy with the result.

The birds shown are the iconic Superb parrots that live in our district.

‘Picola’ by Linden Lancaster 2021
‘Picola’ Detail Linden Lancaster 2021
‘Picola’ detail by Linden Lancaster

SILVER EYES

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This quilt forms part of my new series of works depicting observations from walks around my property, consisting mostly of birds and wildflowers.

The humble little bird, the ‘silver eye’ is in many gardens and backyards. They don’t seem to be able to compete for artists attention like the blue fairy wrens…..

The main process in this piece is mono-printing, using a round geli plate. Feathers were done directly, whilst I used a stencil for the bird shapes. Because this process is quite unpredictable (and more difficult on fabric), only one in four or five work out. I probably did over 100 prints to get the ones shown here!

It is worth it, however, for the delicate and interesting marks that can be produced.

It is a further challenge to add stitching that will complement these marks. After a lot of thought I decided to use have a combination of hand and machine stitching (see details).

This piece was recently exhibited in the ‘One Step Further’ 2021 exhibition at Kyabram Art Gallery.

Silver Eyes Linden Lancaster 2021
Silver Eyes (detail) Linden Lancaster 2021
Silver Eyes (detail) Linden Lancaster 2021
Silver Eyes (detail) Linden Lancaster 2021
Silver Eyes (detail) Linden Lancaster 2021
Silver eyes (detail) Linden Lancaster 2021

ART QUILTS AUSTRALIA 2021

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Showcasing a collection of bold, intricate and colourful art quilts by artists from Australia, New Zealand and worldwide.

At the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum – entry is free, no bookings required.

on exhibition until Sunday 27th of February, 2022.

This is my piece with the title of ‘Nathalia’s Wildflowers’. 84 x 164 cm

Since joining our local Wildflower group, I have developed a passion for indigenous flora. Here I have included some favourites including corresponding notations from my field journal.

Kangaroo grass, Pink bindweed, Blue devil, Tufted bluebell, Box mistletoe, Yam daisy, Silver wattle, Grey parrot pea, Australasian buttercup, Chocolate lily, Grey sunray, Drumsticks (commonly known as ‘Billy buttons).

Techniques: Dye, mono-print with acrylic paints, screen print, raw edge /collage applique, thread sketching. The journal entries have been digitally printed on silk organza.

Materials: Cotton, silk organza, silk, cheese cloth, satin, tulle.

Nathalia’s Wildflowers by Linden Lancaster 2021 164 x 84 cm
Nathalias Wildflowers by Linden Lancaster detail

Nathalia’s Wildflowers by Linden Lancaster detail

Nathalia’s Wildflowers by Linden Lancaster detail
Nathalia’s Wildflowers by Linden Lancaster detail

SAQA Oceana: Distance and Diversity

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‘GILGAI’ Linden Lancaster 2020 40 x 60 cm

We are often prepared to travel a great distance to experience the beauty of our natural world. Last year, in the midst of the ‘Coronavirus lockdown’, my husband and I took a bushwalk in an area of the Barmah River Redgum forest down the end of our road. Our quest was to see what wildflowers may be present. Imagine our excitement to discover a ‘Gilgai’- formed from a depression in the soil which then collects and retains water from rainfall or flood. Such a surprise to see the diversity of shape and form of the plants in such a small area. They could not all be fitted into my representation!

‘Gilgai’ Linden Lancaster 2020 Detail

New Class: Vintage Fabric Concertina Book

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Telling a story through collage and stitch

Three things have brought about these pieces of work:

Firstly, last year during lockdown I did an online course with Karen Stamper (from England). This was done on paper and we were encouraged to do a lot of mark making and experimenting with different media. I liked the idea of working back and forth in the pages and continually making additions, responding to what was already there.

Secondly, over the years I have been studying works by by several other British artists Cas Holmes, Mandy Pattillo and Anne Kelly. All these artists work with ‘found’ and pre-loved fabrics and ephemera. I gradually became able to see the beauty in old and worn out things. Using them in my work has been very satisfying, not to mention cost effective and an environmentally sound practise!

Lastly, I had the privilege of helping to clean out my mother-in-laws old country home. She is 91and worked on the farm until recently. She ‘made do’ in so many ways and threw anything out! Here I had the perfect opportunity to gather a collection of materials and pay homage to my husbands family history. Many years worth of inspiration and work!

Thus was born my version of the fabric concertina book- a lovely balance between fabric collage and stitch. In this proto type I have used the combination of both machine and hand stitch. I have also used a mini-theme (kitchen) and restricted colour palette (red, cream and a little green/blue) and only used materials found from the old house.

The cover is made from the curtains that hung in my husbands boyhood bedroom.

The jug is backstitched with black thread. Couching and blanket stitch.
Running stitch, machine free-motion, the orange is made up of fabrics from two little girls dresses, one synthetic, the other velvet.
Work in progress from another book with a green theme. Part of a tie in the left hand upper right. The dish is a gel transfer from a laser printout. A buckle will be added after the cover is attached.
Work in progress from the ‘green’ book. ‘Fake Herringbone’ stitched with two threads in the needle on the checked school uniform. Flowers and leaves have been cut form a tablecloth and attached with chain stich.
Found buttons, all different but with the same size and colour.

These small projects are a perfect way to try out lots of ideas for a larger piece of work. I plan to make a series of larger textile collages about this old country home and its people.

Church quilt next chapter

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Quite a hiatus since my last blog. My beautiful mother died and I am all at sea………

The progress on our new Church has been very slow- the continuation of the pandemic has not helped our cause. As there is no urgency for the triptych to be completed, the poor thing is languishing in the spare bedroom!

Progress to date

Cutting and auditioning pieces on my design wall. With this project I am pre-fusing the fabrics with Heatn’Bond Lite (iron on fusible). I am paying close attention to the distribution of lights and darks. There is no planned focal point. I need to make sure that my blue-violet medium fabric is dominant, so I begin with blocking that in.

Auditioning wall

This process cannot be rushed. Viewing photos on my phone really helps with making decisions in progress.

Blocking in completed

Here the blocking in is completed.

Adding text.

There are lots of ways to add text. I thought about stencilling or hand drawing/painting but that can a bit risky. So I have decided to stitch the words. The problem here would be to how to make the stitching stand out. I would have to use a thick weight thread and contrasting colours/values.

How do I fit in the text?

I also tried to fit the text in by using a computer program. Alas, my technical skills were not up to the task, so I decided to use my own hand writing (this will be more personal anyway). This photos shows the use of tracing paper to see how it will fit. I use a chalk pencil to mark the quilt before I baste it.

Basting the layers with pins

As you can see, my pins do get rather tangled!

The next thing is to do a small test piece to try out some quilting ideas and threads.

Test piece

This is very rough, but you get the idea. In the upper left corner you may be able to just see some sketches of possible designs.

This is where I leave you until the big reveal!

Church Quilt part 6

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I am printing designs onto to the plain pieces of fabric I dyed last time.

Compressed sponge is wonderful stuff. It is flat when you get it which means you can draw and cut out your design easily. When you put it in water is expands and can be used like a sponge (kids find this fascinating). Stamping with these gives a unique look, although some of the prints can turn out imperfect (which I like). I have cut out some shapes to use as a template. Here I have used the choir people and some birds. Again, I may not use any of this, but it gives me choices.

I have cut the sponge out carefully, so I can use both the positive and negative parts. This has not been put in water yet.

Birds

I have stamped with pearlescent fabric paints and like the way the white paint under is still showing through. I am looking for an ethereal quality with the people.

These sponge stamps can also be used with other processes such as discharging. Discharging takes the dye out of the fabric. Some artists don’t like to use this process in their quilts as it is a bit toxic and it may not be archival. I soak my fabric in anti-chlor and wash it thoroughly.

I also like to use ‘found objects’ to print with. I choose ones that might fit the theme. Here I am using an old lemon squeezer with the discharge paste.

Commercial stencils are lovely to use, but I try to limit these, as they are designed by someone else and I want my work to be original as I can. These ones look like stained glass windows.

I have also made two thermofax screens. These are low tech printing screens that can achieve very fine lines. One is a piece of music photocopied straight from my Dads copy of Handel’s Messiah (this is quite poignant as he is no longer with us). The song is “The Trumpet Shall Sound”. Viewers of the quilt will probably not realise the significance, but I will! The second one is of the dictionary meaning of the Messiah. People will not be able to clearly read the text, but will hopefully, see glimpses of words like ‘Jesus’, ‘Saviour’ , ‘promised’ when they look closer etc.

Again, this printing does not turn out perfect. I don’t mind at all….this is a hand crafted, not machine made fabric design. I will also be able to fussy cut pieces out, leaving anything too messy. Furthermore, I know that the overall master ‘window’ design is very geometric with clean lines. I want to offset this with more ‘organic’ elements. Some of the compressed sponge figures (above) are printed over the second thermofax print.