Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Caddis Flies and Other Bugs

Nina Katchadourian Mended Webs

Jennifer Angus detail Indian Room

Hubert Duprat and Caddis Fly

There is such a strong insect connection for many textile artists.

Artists have watched in wonder at the creations insects make instinctually and have studied the structures, materials and patterns used . The relationship between bug and maker travels back through time. The first discovery of silk in China has been said to have come about because a little silk worm cocoon fell into the Princess Xi Ling Shi's cup of tea and unravelled. Spiders weave translucent webs that have always been embellished by dew drops and captured snacks.
Diaphanous butterflies emerge from complex cocoons and have no doubt prompted textile curiosity.

Contemporary artist like Jennifer Angus and her wall paper made from insect wings , Joanna Staniskis and her silk worm architecture, and the amazing caddis fly constructions prompted by
Hubert Duprat. Artist Nina Katchadourian interferes with industrious spiders making webs by adding her embroidered phrases. Aganetha Dyck plays with bees and their hives

In North America we have a tendency to religate insects to the distasteful, disease ridden and ugly. Insects are regarded as beautiful in many cultures. Many people even find them delicious.

I love bugs. They inspire me every day.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Whales Tales

" Hive" Patricia Chauncey
cast paper, welded silk, acrylic medium, bees wax and Coca Cola

We bought the gallery and high tailed it out of town and went to Oregon for the week.
The grey whales were waiting where we left them last year. The pelicans flew close to where we look over the cliffs to watch. The cow parsnip was just past bloom and going to seed and there were hundreds of lovely holey rocks on the beaches.

The hotel we rented was a townhouse that overlooked the beach in Lincoln City. Pale cream coloured butterflies landed on fleshy beaches. I got to return to the land my granny, great granny and great-great granny were born and listen to talk that sounded like theirs.

My great granny was the oldest survivng subscriber to the Oregonian when she died beside her bread pans full of prairie garden weeks short of 100. She first subscribed after her wedding at 15. She had it mailed to Canada after she left Oregon.

People are big in Oregon. I look like them. We watched as a family of huge Oregonians rode a covered bicycle powered surrey down the street. It creaked and scraped. The red faced riders headed down hill and we couldn't watch any more because of the impending disaster.

I found lots of display cases for my fabric creatures and watched as enormous kites dragged grown men along the sand. Kelp has the colour I want for the silicone creatures.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Good Eats Gallery

Well we did it!!!

Tim and I are now the new owners of the "Good Eats" Gallery in Wells B.C. The apartment upstairs is the new part time home and there will be a studio in the basement. The gallery is on the main floor and is currently used by Bill Horne, Claire Kudjunic and Chris Harris.

I will be keeping my studio at Williams Street in Vancouver and life is instantly busier.

Gotta go sign papers!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


The deadline for the acceptance of the offer on the gallery is now over. We don't know yet what Chris Harris decided. Yes or no.

I want the gallery but am o-kay either way. Things happen for a reason. Much worse things have happened to me than not getting a gallery. Much better things have happened as well.

I might have to wait until morning and unpack my fantasies then.

Reminder to self... nothing has happened yet.

Waiting Games

Waiting to find out about the gallery purchase.

I am doing Yoga breathing, pacing, eating, fussing and taking long baths. I have had 5 or 6 asthma attacks. Tim is using up the calculator buttons and reminding me this is financially difficult about 10 times a day. He is reading a pile of construction books. I am trying not to pack.

There was a lightening strike in Wells yesterday and it missed the building by a few houses. It caught a tree on fire and nearly set the town ablaze! The town is made up of 1930's wooden structures. The realtor mistakenly told us a person 2 doors away had been killed. We had dinner with the person 2 doors away a few nights before. Thankfully not dead but very shell shocked.

Tommorrow will tell.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cariboo Gold

Pooley Street Blue Building Good Eats Gallery
photo by Marie Nagel
I had planned a trip to Prince Edward Island and ended up north in Wells B.C.
The most incredible political and artistic little town on the planet. It is in the deep , dark mountain alpine rainforest. The snow gets 14 feet high in the winter with a climate of 20 below farenheit. It has 2 months of summer.

I found magic. It is a town full of artists and other amazing people. I also found two buildings that just wanted us to own them. We made an offer to purchase on the Good Eats Cafe Gallery.
It is one of two flatiron buildings in the province and was constructed in 1930. It has an upstairs apartment that looks down a wild valley for miles. Next door is an incredible theatre that has stages and lights and sound equipment.

The town has a great library, medical services, and internet! It also has an incredible art school and little things like recycling and community gardens. It even has a public gallery. The people there have intentionally planned a heritage community that seems to be thriving. Fair trade goods are available for sale and people trade stuff if they need new things.

We were there for 2 days and discovered a community of people who wined and dined us. We attended the cabaret and many people in the community got up to perform skills like singing, belly dancing, juggling and whip- cracking. Many had professional experience and were terrific.

The neighbouring towns include two ghost towns left from the gold rush. Stanley is full of ghosts and Barkerville has been restored into a tasteful and historically accurate theme park.

The offer is in and it looks like we have a new part time home and community. I just need to remember to count chickens when they hatch!

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Pat Dolan Cellular Imagery #2 Whole Cloth

Pat Dolan is another artist looking at cellular imagery in her textile work.

She is certainly brave with her colour palette and this piece just called to me.

I have been working with a more tertiary, earthy and subtle palette for awhile and need to play with brighter colours. I have to hide the results but find it pulls me back to consider the makeup of the palette in a more thoughtful way.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Double Trouble!

Hilary dragged me out to a lecture given by the English embroidery masters, LittleJohn and Beeney. She was unfamiliar with them but I have been waiting to meet them for years.

The talk was given at Emily Carr College of Art and Design. This was one of the first times an embroiderer has been recognized by the school in my memory. No shock though as these two have been at the edges of embroidery since the early sixties and have pushed the boundary of textile possibilities.

They work and travel together as a team but create seperate works. They share writing , teaching and lecturing. They are even capable of sharing a stage with fairness.

What I loved was their generosity in sharing techniques and samples. They brought extraordinary sketch books and samples for each work. They both work very compulsively on shared themes with completely different results.

Once again I am shown that diligence pays off with an extraordinary body of work.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rose Coloured Glasses

"Pocket Full of Posies" Natalie Krzuk, Body Ornament West, Alberta Crafts Council

Just found an example of "paper" made with rose petals and acrylic medium.
It looks like an incredible skin.

A few years ago I was making leathery skins with flower blossoms and making bowls and pods with large soft petals from magnolia blossoms.

The Eden Skin Project needs more colour. There are these great big petals from blossoms around the garden that need to become more than compost. These ones need to be made in an organic way and should probably be made with a lamination of fine rice paper. They might also work if laminated under gut. The translucency is very important but things rot in this rain forest environment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cram It In

London Tomatoes

The backyard has been transformed into a vegetable garden and the side beds are both edible and beautiful. The deck has five boxes containing flowers, swiss chard and mesclun mix and the pots are growing lots of herbs. There is a feed of marjoram, oregano, mint, tarragon, stevia and lavender.

The edible fruit trees are chugging away and saskatoons, blackberries, raspberries and apple are now fruiting. The rhubarb is struggling and the fennel hasn't grown very tall.

The babies are now showing and include bok choy, beans, peas, onions, carrots, swiss chard, radishes and zucchini. Today there are five little peppers. Twelve sunflowers have made an appearance along with cabbages and beets.

I am going to beg a male and female fig tree cutting from my neighbour in exchange for some day lillies. Kiwi vines are going to be planted over the new arbour this weekend.

Today included a feast of saskatoon berry buckwheat pancakes, drank chocolate mint tea with ginger and stevia. There were mesclun, tomato and onion sandwiches. Rhubarb is turning into muffins.

Compost still turns into soil even if it is ignored for two or three years.

How amazing it is to see how much food can be grown in a tiny space. The yard is only about 50feet by 25 feet. There is still room for a pear tree, cherries and blueberries.

I found my rusted objects and have buried some cotton with them for awhile to gett some lovely molds and stains for embroidery.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Bee's Knees

Aganetha Dyck's Wedding Dress with bee hives

Aganetha Dyck is a mixed media artist who works with textiles and bees.

She finds or makes beautiful objects with crochet and loopy textiles and introduces them into bee hives. The bees take over and collaborate to make the most exquisite objects that require incredible effort from them. They continue to build hive around the objects. sometimes they simply enhance it.

Aganetha works prolifcally and has probably been bitten and infected with bee fever. Her works are haunting and about memory. She has focused on disappearing prairie farms and has learned everything possible about things like bee pheremones, genetics and hive structure. She has introduced herself to scientists and involved herself with people like Dr. Mark Winston and Dr. David Suzuki.

Bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and wild bees are being gassed and poisoned by industrial farming techniques. Obsession with diseases like West Nile Virus have encouraged municipal governments to start spraying again.

Today we spent hours digging in our little garden and trying to prepare it for a productive year.
Gai Lan, chard and peppers are already making a decent show. Our goal is to make it edible for us , bees and others. The ladybugs are chomping away on aphids. Lots of bees are showing up.

Tonight I will fall asleep thinking Aganetha and her bees.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Me being watered at the Louvre

The garden is starting to happen. Tiny seedlings are poking their little faces out of the soil and are begging for drinks.

I have only managed to garden in containers for the last few years but talked Tim into digging me a full fledged garden plot. Seed catalogues have drawn my lascivious attentions and delight with overt pictures of come hither flowers, fragrant herbs and plump juicy vegetables. I have purchased seeds for quicky plants like radishes, mesclun mix, gai lan and have planted cruciforous for the fall.

This morning I was weeding and watering before 7:00 am in my jamas. I picked saskatoon berries and made muffins before 8:00am.

This weekend Tim will make an arbour and a bench for two.

Magic of Metamorphosis

Bombyx Party
Silk Worm Cocoons

Voracious Baby

I located a mulberry tree for my yard. Figaro's have three of them for $110 per tree.


It turns out that silk worms are voracious little pigs for insects. They exist only to eat and breed. Bombyx Mori are so domesticated that they will not even crawl over to their food. Exclusive menu is mulberry leaves. Soft , young ones. Hand delivered. They need to be fed four or five times a day and they throw used skins all over the cage. The little beauties do something called gut dump everytime they molt. Both ends.

The moths only live for a few days and don't eat or gut dump. Deformed little bodies can't even fly. All flutter and fluff. They mate, lay eggs and die.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


I have spent the entire morning listening to my son's romantic problems and making samosas.

The samosa dough is so easy to make and the fillings can be made with just about anything resembling a chili or curry. Perhaps the colour would be pumped up a little with tumeric.
Tumeric works well when putting colour into dough or paper. It stains the skin and has fragrance. It helps cure cancer. I love looking at it.

Romantic troubles never inspire me. I feel bad that they are so boring but so all consuming.

Samosa Dough Recipe

1 cup of flour
2 Tablespoons of Oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of water
chopped green onions or parsley

Rub the oil into the flour , salt and herb mixture.
Add the water and knead for a minute.
Cover for 10 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/8 th of an inch.
Use a cappochino cup and cut out circles.
Place mixture into the centre of the circle and fold over.
Press both edges together and crimp pinch or fork press.
Brush with a little oil.
Put them into a 375o oven for 20 -25 minutes.
Take them out when golden brown and enjoy.

Kiss and make-up.