In the last post, I explained the map keys; today, the techniques. This piece has more techniques (and variations) than Australia has dangerous creatures. Here's some explanations:
"printed on toadskins" - yes! In a leather shop in Hobart, I bought several tanned toad skins. Cane toads, introduced to Australia as pest control, had become a real problem, and some people were harvesting their skins. I used phototransfer paper to print images of the toads on their actual skins, then cut out the shapes. The 2 side panels are snake skin from the same shop.
That same phototransfer paper gave me the chalk-on-the-blackboard image of the ship. I printed the ship (copied from an aboriginal drawing of a ship) on phototransfer paper, then used an exacto knife to very carefully cut away all the non-printed sections. You can't cut through the paper backing - just the fusible film. This leaves only the film with the actual image, which I ironed onto the black wool. When it cooled, I scratched at the film (with a wire brush) resulting in this ghostly image. I did the same to make the words 'Great Barrier Reef' further up the coast. Even the ship printed on the vest material has been trimmed - by removing some of the film, I can get greater contrast.
The ghostly images floating past the frog skeleton are copies of Aboriginal painting, printed on silk, then fused and sewn:
See the frog skeleton on the pocket? I love the way that turned out! It's a reversal of my embedded object technique. See, I print the image on oaktag, use WonderUnder to fuse the oaktag to a thick piece of felt, then cut away just the printed skeleton with my exacto knife (of course, it gets tricky when you have unattached inner parts, like at the eyes, so I lightly glue a netting underneath the felt, and glue those bits back in..). Anyhow, I create a negative image on the oaktag-felt, shove that under the cloth, and then sew down the empty lines, so it looks (sort of) like it's carved into the fabric.
I used discharge paste to create the button images , then sewed down the images to make them indented. The tiny twig circles are lobster traps:
There are a few old Australian coins in the quilt, drilled with small holes to sew them on. I've learned to clamp the coins down before I drill them - I used to just hold them down with my thumb, until I drilled through my thumbnail. Ouch. The crocodile images are based on Aboriginal art found on Australian stamps (both cut from snake skin):
Sorry about the color cast on some of these - I know, the black looks blue - but I can either work on the photos or get this posted. Can't do both.
Queensland letters are embedded under the fabric, and, on the actual quilt, the sewn-on dyed lace is almost invisible.
OK, first, the rabbit. Yes, he's playing badminton. When Australia was first trying to cope with their Plague of Bunnies, they erected many, many fences. This image is from an editorial drawing which complained that the fences would be a complete waste. They were.
The aboriginal figures. Copied from Aboriginal paintings...they're wearing my old vest. Imposed cultural appropriation? I imagine some people might be offended. I hope not.
Tasmania is turned sideways in this picture so you can read the words: VAN DIEMANS LAND, the original name of the island. I have a rusty old set of alphabet cookie cutters, which I left arranged on the fabric until it stained.* After I sewed the lettering, I cut out some of the top fabric. The beaded crochet is part of a jug cover, used to keep out flies. The clothespins (with their wire supports used here as shackles) represent the convicts. Van Diemans land was a prison colony - the name was changed as part of the effort to put that fact in the past.
* rust +vinegar will give you a beautiful rust-colored stain. If you add tannin, it turns the stain black. I get my tannin by simmering acorns and hickory nuts in water. I've read that the mud cloth made in parts of Africa is colored with sediment from a lake rich in iron oxide (rust) and tannin (acorns!)
Middens are ancient garbage heaps: scientists get a good deal of information from this trash. In Tasmania, I saw part of a midden at the coast, being revealed by erosion. The midden in my map is sewn from old chicken bones*, shells, barnacles and beads. I used the old potato dextrin technique to create the crackled pattern in the middle.
* after using the bones to make soup, I scrub them with a wire brush, reboil them, wash them, re-scrub them, dig out the middle with toothpicks and pipecleaners, and dry them in the sun for a few days.
One last thing - I had done a lot of work on this map, before I tore it apart and re-made it. Here is the original configuration and the finished map, for comparison:
By moving the rabbit images into a circular arc around the midden, I improved the overall composition...but I probably should have left the sections on the bottom.
Next week, one last piece that was inspired by Australia, and one that I did after a trip to India.