When Picola textile artist Linden Lancaster first purchased a sewing machine it was for one simple reason — to repair her husband’s clothes.
Now, more than 20 years later, the former music teacher has found a different use for her sewing machine: creating intricate quilts that could be mistaken for photographs.
Although describing herself as an ‘‘average’’ hand sewer, Mrs Lancaster’s work has been recognised with a solo exhibition at Nathalia’s Growing Rural Arts In Nathalia Store, continuing to build on the recognition that has seen her pieces travel to Mexico and the United States and receive accolades at some of Australia’s most respected quilting events.
Drawing inspiration from her surrounds and experience living on a farm, rural imagery of shearing sheds and the serene Barmah Forest often feature in the quilts that are pride of place on the walls of many local homes.
After years of quilting, Mrs Lancaster found herself searching for a challenge about a decade ago.
‘‘I found myself getting sick of creating standard quilts and started to move into creating portrait quilts of my family. I just found it so much more satisfying,’’ she said.
‘‘I read and collect a lot of ideas and images, I’ll do a lot of watercolour and sketching that I’ll then base my quilts off. I might take a photo of something but then I want to change the background so I’ll fiddle around with it and change it.’’
There is rarely a piece of store-bought fabric within her creations, with Mrs Lancaster instead opting to dye and create her own fabrics utilising techniques from silk screening and printing, to ice dyeing and using jelly stamps.
‘‘Most of the quilts started white ... I do a lot of layering and cutting back and a lot of different techniques to create the final product.’’
Shadows are created using tulle, varying thickness of applique or, in a number of instances, reverse bleaching her dyed fabrics to create varying depths of colour.
Mrs Lancaster said there was barely a technique she had not — or would not — try.
It’s a passion that has evolved over the years. Starting as a purely practical pursuit, Mrs Lancaster said her hobby had become a beloved way to spend her time and share imagery of her community and world.
There’s just one small drawback.
‘‘My husband still can’t get a button sewed on,’’ she said.
■Linden Lancaster’s exhibition will be on display at the G.R.A.I.N. Store, 24 Blake St, Nathalia, from 11am to 4pm from November 16 to 18.