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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.

Church quilt part 5

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SURFACE DESIGN- layering

Dyeing and overdyeing the fabrics

Layer one is a very pale tint of the colours. I have used an open screen with thickened Procion dyes and tried to vary the saturation by adding some weak darks/complements. I want to get rid of all the white, but retain some value contrast.

Here I have added a resist to some of the pieces using some soy wax with a tjanging.

The one in the front is done with a pastry cutter.

Overdyed with a stronger solution of the same colour palette. These are lovely, but perhaps a bit busy- I may not use them. I have still plenty of plain overdyed fabric I can experiment with.

The cats think I’ve made this little cubby house for them, but its really for batching the fabric!

Church Quilt part 4

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COLOUR STUDY

I have decided to use hand dyed fabrics for this project. I like the way you can mix and control your own colour palette and I am comfortable with the process of screen printing with thickened Procion dyes. Dyes have a lovely translucent quality and can be manipulated in a number of ways- overlaid, discharged and broken down.

To test the dyes I have screen printed them in different tones and saturations, onto cover paper and cut out swatches. I did try to use the thickened dyes on a geli print plate, which did not work.

I have tried to stick with a limited colour palette: blue, orange, and violet. But couldn’t resist trying a little yellow and red.

Next blog I will be trying out some surface design techniques with imagery.

Church quilt part 3

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This is where I will be planning the overall design. Some people let the process lead them to a design, which I very much admire. I don’t seem to get very far when I use this approach.

I am using the archways tracing. I will photocopy it, then enlarge, reduce, or rotate the archways. Using A4 size paper makes the calculations for enlargement easier. The photocopier is my best friend in designing.

The final design (after a lot of mucking about). The plan is to have writing along the curves and different things in the windows.

I have my own checklist that I sometimes use and is useful to think about various options before beginning a project, have a clear plan to work towards (that can deviate along the way if required) and most important of all to remember my original intent.

The most important thing is to feel very excited about the project- art quilts take a lot of time, effort and money to make. If you are not excited in the beginning, you are not going to have the momentum to see the project to its fruition.

Next week I will be working on some colour plans.

Church Quilt- part 2

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I have been collecting visual ideas. Doodling and thumbnail sketches are bringing ideas together. I have picked a few key words from my mind map which are: Messiah, choir/figures, luminosity, windows, archways, text.

A page from my fathers copy of Messiah. I could make this into a thermofax screen.
Doodles of possible shapes and patterns
Original Baroque instruments would be interesting
Thumbnail compositions
I like the layering of transparent colours in Hary’s work.
A tracing of a concert hall. I will reduce/enlarge and play with.
This was a rough I designed for a concert by the Nathalia choir (which I am conductor). I think this could be useful.
A play with possible colours.

I’m thinking that hue/saturation contrast will be more important than linear/textural elements. At the moment there are too many ideas and although the piece has to be interesting, I will need to give myself some sort of limitations.

Next week I will be trying to come up with a cohesive design.

Church Quilt part 1

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I have a project has been languishing on my design wall for since the beginning of the year (2020).

I thought it could be a good way of moving forwards and being accountable through writing about it on this platform.

A bit of background

My husband and I have been part of a small country town church community for the last 30 years or so. In that time, the little church has grown and changed, with a lot of ups and downs and our children have grown and shifted away to Melbourne.

Nearly all this time we have been looking to build a church, a home of our own, rather than rent different premises.

Just last year we finally purchased a building and begin renovating. YAY! I was excited to make a beautiful large art quilt to hang in the chapel.

The Theme

I have always loved the verse form the book of Job:

 ‘I Know that my Redeemer lives and that he shall stand at the latter days upon the earth’ Job 19:25

It sends tingles up my spine when I hear those words sung in Handel’s ‘Messiah’  and being a musician, a music theme would be very apt.

A few parameters

The piece would be hanging in the large auditorium in an area approx., 230 x 180 cm, so very large.

It would need have a lot of visual interest as people would be looking at it, week in, week out (especially when the sermon goes for too long….).

Questions to ponder

Christian imagery is very symbolic and can sometimes seem ‘done to death’. How can I represent scripture in a fresh and original way?

Handel’s Messiah is one of the best known and frequently performed choral works in Western music. How can I do justice to this?

The following is the original mind map of ideas (which I have neatened up, to make it readable!)

Stayed tuned to part 2 next week!

Australian Quilts in Public Places : ‘Metamorphosis’

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AQIPP opened last Thursday night (14/11/19) at the White Horse Artspace, Box hill, Melbourne. The Australian Quilters Association produce this event bi-annually with a theme, which this year was ‘metamorphosis’. There were 52 entries from across the country that were judged by Jenny Bacon and Jan Frazer. The event runs until December 21/19.

My entry ‘Run the Fire’ was the winner. Thank you to Brother for the beautiful sewing machine, in which my daughter and son in law are going to learn to sew!

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‘Run the Fire’ Linden Lancaster 2019

Artist Statement:

The traditional burning system employed by central Australian people produces a mosaic of plant communities in different stages of fire recovery – a true metamorphosis of the environment as the regeneration and germination of seeds and rhizomes allows the replenishment of grasses, bushes and trees. Bush tucker for everyone!

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‘Run the Fire’ spinifex detail

Many different fabrics were used, including heavy furnishing fabrics and light weight tulle. The fabric was pre-fused then chopped up with a rotary cutter. The mounds of spinifex were made separately, then added to the picture plane. The sky and smoke were hand dyed.

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‘Run the fire’ figure detail

The figure was trickiest part. I wanted him to be the focal point without adding too much detail.

 

Kata Tjuta Cameos at Art Quilt Australia

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Kata Tjuta Cameos by Linden Lancaster 2019

Last year I visited Alice Springs to teach a workshop and have a short holiday with my husband. Having never been to the NT before, little did I know what I was in store for. I never imagined this landscape could be so beautiful and unique. I imagined Alice Springs sitting in the middle of flat and brown spinifex, not surrounded by the beautiful and unique MacDonnell ranges. On my way home, with a book of sketches and a swag of photos, I mapped out a series of quilt ideas that would become a new body of work on central Australia. This would be divided into three parts, Landscape, Flora and Fauna, and Cultural.

Kata Tjuta: tone, shape, scale

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 Kata Tjuta: colour, texture, marks

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In my few hours at Kata Tjuta, I did not race around taking a lot of photos like the other visitors but found a spot by myself and lay on my back. Looking up at the vast pocked marked walls of red contrasting with the turquoise sky, it was a great (and less exhausting) way of soaking in the atmosphere. The following small sketches here were done very quickly from the bus window.

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A while back I did an online workshop called ‘Translating Landscape’ by Anita Lehmann. One of the briefs I really enjoyed was dividing up a page with one inch boxes and putting a tiny abstract landscape in each with watercolour, pastel and ink. This could be a way try and capture the essence of a place, rather than trying to capture the whole thing in one go (which could look very ‘blobby’).

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Tiny Landscapes by Linden Lancaster 2018

Keeping with this idea and (trying) to keep everything loose and abstract, I quickly drew up some simple shapes that reminded me of my visit to Kata Tjuta. These were enlarged and assessed for their potential:

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During the summer, I dyed and screen print a whole lot of fabric, with colours and marks in mind. I experimented a lot with breakdown printing, a method whereby thickened Procion dyes are allowed to dry on a silk screen, then printed onto cloth. Each subsequent pull with wet media, breaks down the dry dye, giving a unique effect and the texture I was after.

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These fabrics were auditioned, cut and pinned on the design board using the above enlarged abstract squares. I tried to make each section complete in itself, as well as relating to each other. These were then pieced, with the violet and orange border fabric.

My original idea was to quilt the whole lot with big sweeping organic lines and then infill these with patterns. I had some difficulties getting the stitches and lines fluid enough, so resorted to quilting each square separately being sympathetic to the marks on the fabric.

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You can see this quilt and lots of others at the National Wool Museum in Geelong, Victoria, Australia from 6/09/19 to 15/12/19

For more details see the Ozquilt network.

Bush-stone Curlew

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This unique Australian bird will be gracing the walls of the Arizona-Sonara Desert museum in October as part of the SAQA global exhibition “Connecting Our Natural Worlds”.

Our brief was to share a story of something relevant to the theme which speaks to our personal experience of the natural world in our own backyard. The artists statement, had to identify danger to the flora or fauna represented and recommend a call to action.

Old-timers in our district recall that they would often hear the eerie ‘weer-loo’ call of the Bush Stone-Curlew, especially on moonlit nights. Sadly, this event has become quite rare, as this species is now seriously endangered in our area.

The Bush Stone-Curlew is a shy ground-dwelling bird, found across Australia in open woodland habitats. A curious looking thing, its distinctive features are large eyes and long, gangly legs. It requires areas with lots of fallen branches and leaf litter – for foraging, shelter and camouflage.

The Bush Stone-Curlew’s only defence strategy against predators is camouflage. Whereas other birds fly away, it lies flat on the ground and stays still, hoping to blend in with its surroundings. Their chicks make an easy meal for introduced species such as foxes, dogs and cats.

In the Murray River Catchment area where I live, to aid this species’ survival, farmers, in particular, have been encouraged to protect remnant woodland and leave fallen timber on the ground. There is also a consistent programme of regeneration, through planting native species, as well as trying to control feral animals.

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Bush-stone curlew Linden Lancaster, 2019

Techniques:

Whole cloth mono-printed background with fabric paint, fabric collage, thread sketched and quilted on a domestic machine.

Materials:

Cotton substrate, fabric paint, variety of fabrics including commercial and surface-designed cottons. Cotton and polyester threads.

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Bush-stone Curlew detail. Linden Lancaster 2019