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, October 30, 2007

Plagues of Egypt

Serpent Skin 2006 Brendan Hurley New York Museum of Natural History

I am working on my CSI challenge today and have changed my theme of overwhelming fear to
the prevailing fears of our society. I guess I liken these to the plagues of Egypt.

I have been listening to a great friend lately who feels very upset by the situations caused by irresponsible decisions by corporations and governments. Global warming, housing shortages, drugs and disease. Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by information about terrifying predictions. She compared what is happening to more biblical times and prediction.

She is a Jew. I am an atheist/ agnostic/ Unitarian. The stories and fears, however, are often prempted by fanatical forecasting. They don't allow us to consider solutions as carefully
I have decided my work will be about these fears. Nothing bigger and to be completed by tomorrow!

Plagues include rivers turning to blood, pestilence, boils, frogs, locust, nasty beasts etc...By tomorrow!

Monday, October 29, 2007

After Glow

I am not sure if this is after glow or fever.

Celine and Scott organized the show beautifully. Not bad at all for a first try! Not bad for a one hundredth try!

Many different kinds of people attended the Wonderland opening. There were only a few textile people there because of the Maiwa Wrap party. The majority of attendees came from other parts of the art world and community. That was quite exciting for me.

There were a group of people who attended who have been working with the Dalai Lama.
I don't think I have ever had robed Tibetan Buddist monks attend one of my shows before.
The most fascinating conversation I have ever had was with a man from Tibet named Chi Ching.
He wanted to know why I named the work "Wonderland" after Disney. He hadn't heard of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Trying to explain something that absurd to someone who thinks about deep meaning everyday was a challenge. The film maker Janice Wong gave me a hand. Translating absurdity between cultures is very revealing.

Chi Ching was beyond cool. He had responses to the explanations that really made me have to stretch. He immediately understood that the English are a strange. He also got the opium connections. He certainly understood absurdity and changed perceptions.

I got plenty of encouragement and inspiring comments regarding the work. One very lovely comment came from James, photographer artist from Seattle, who photographs art all the time. He described himself as rather jaded and hard to amaze. He said he was amazed by my work.

People liked playing with the looking glasses and feeling the sample books. They actually spent time reading the artist and curatorial statements. They took the cards and invited me to play.
They told me about the work they did.

What more should I ask?

I am inviting textile people to attend next Saturday between 2-4. at the Numen Gallery 1058 Mainland Street Vancouver.

Now I have to get back to work on the CSI challenge pieces so I can mail them off before deadline in two days! Hope I make it.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Numen Gallery Invitation postcard 2007

Numen Gallery is lovely. So are the owners Celine and Scott.They have put really careful consideration into everything.

We set up the "Wonderland" exhibition last night and edited out some of the work that may have looked great in the studio but didn't work as well in the gallery. Some of the work looked fabulous in the gallery but was so so in the studio. A good reminder to see the work in place before deciding what to show.
The white, heavily crusted globes are even more effective in these new surroundings.My favourite, however, is a tiny dark orb looking like a little toad nestled with it's companions. A few of the globes are now lit from within allowing a soft. blue light to glow through the holes. The gut balls have taken on a very sensual presence and really work with the felt balls and snake skin pupae.
You will have to come and see "Wonderland" on Saturday October 27 @2-4pm. Numen Gallery 120-1058 Mainland.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Disaster Averted

All of the large globes started to collapse and crumble in on themselves today.
Panic was too mild a description for what happened.

Logic center replaced hysteria and I proceeded to do some major problem solving.
Things collapse for the following reasons...they have been worked before completely drying, the glues are too flexible, the weight of the embellishments are too heavy, or the internal structure has been weakened with the burning process.

I was busy designing internal supports and decided to give up all together. I resorted to wailing and whining. I collapsed in a heap. I contacted the gallery and said they couldn't be shown.

I went down to the studio and proceeded to continue burning and forming. Voila! The largest ball has been resurrected and will be shown. It is stronger than ever. The most complex ball can
be saved and an internal support made from insulation foams will work tomorrow. The simplest ball might not ever be saved. I will start it from scratch again and deliver it late.

Every pore on my body is covered in emulsions and paint. I smell like a demented campfire girl
and my partner is getting crabbier because he hasn't been cuddled in awhile.

Sometimes art making is so much fun it makes social work an option again!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I love it when a gallery has a decent contract and go about things in a professional manner.

I just hate, however, pricing my work. It is fairly unique and there is obsessive detail in most pieces. Sometimes the pieces I like least have sold for the most money. Sometimes people whine about paying for something that has taken unbelievable hours to create. Usually something I love and treasure.

I have enough work I like not to feel worried about the show at Numen Gallery. The other artists who will be showing there this year are people I consider to be some of the best in Vancouver. Alice Phillips is a wonderful felter and Jeina Morosoff is my favourite glass artist ever! Celine has taken time to consider carefully who she will show and certainly has a similar aesthetic to my own.

Meanwhile... back to the ranch to finish wrapping gut around twisted vines to create little globes for inside the cases and jars. One of them is made with laminated rose petals and stuffed with silk worm cocoons. I am very happy with how they look.

Very excited about my opening on Saturday.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Choking Hazard Dolls

Choking Hazard Doll Kirsten Chursinoff 2007
Choking Hazard Doll Kirsten Chursinoff 2007

It is hard to imagine the beautiful and talented embroiderer, Kirsten Chursinoff, had a dark and dangerous room in her brain containing anything as demented as "the choking hazard dolls".

I have had intimate contact with these dolls. They were in my studio at the last Eastside Culture Crawl. I shiver in horror at them after my laughter stops. They are hideous and tempting all at the same time.

Her dolls are aptly named...Lobotomy, Edward Scissor Bear, Squished. They have everything from friendly bleeding wounds to extra long "pubes". Some of them vomit, some have stitches from failed surgeries. All are completely extreme.

When Chursinoff was asked how she decided to make them she replied,"Well I had a few parts hanging around." All in a sweet and dulcet voice to go with her angel face. Not bad for a preacher's daughter.

Check out her show at button button in Vancouver until Hallowe'en and her site at

Friday, October 19, 2007


Gut Counterpart from the Louvre's Roman Exhibition

The miles of gut were delivered this morning. Sheep and hog. It is beautiful and will make the best little sculptures. There is enough of it for me to weave or knit but I'm not sure I can stomach it without a wet suit of something. Now isn't the time to get squeemish.

There were also some collagen casing delivered for me to try. I have unraveled a string of it and it looks perfect for stitching. I'll do some experiments on it this afternoon to see how it works with image transfers etc.

I will be washing and clipping for the whole morning. First, I need to run out and get a new package of gloves, some groceries and some fresh air.

Yesterday's work is the most successful yet. It is a very deeply carved globe with holes large enough for a baby finger. The working and reworking made the whole emulsion very dense and hard. It is starting to feel like bone. The inside was foiled first and it has a slight shimmer through the holes like abalone or something. I might stick a thin paint brush in and see it I can hit it with some soft green interference. There was the possibility of blasting it with an ivory to bone acrylic last night but the sun brings out the beautiful details this morning.

I feel so much better today. The kitchen fairy (me) swamped the dishes, cleaned the living room and swept the floor. I reminded my feminist self that Tim went out and earned the money for my emulsions and gut and built the light boxes. So this isn't giving in... it is a labour exchange.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

For Granted.

When Tim and I had been living together for a while he gave me what he considered the "nicest" compliment. He said lovingly," I just love that I can take you for granted."

I was floored and furious. He was shocked. He explained that he trusted me more fully than anyone he had ever trusted and he didn't have to think about what it was I wanted or needed.

He was met for weeks with a cold, edgier version of myself. It took me years to explain why that wasn't a compliment.

Today I looked around the house. It is piled with art making, dirty dishes, piles of newspapers and lost relatives. There are burnt globes on the bed beside unfolded laundry. My hair hasn't been combed and my jeans are spattered with unidentiable goop. My nose is running and I am grumpy and feverish.

I do, however, have all art projects in good order. They are blossoming in this mess. Bone like fossilized structures that seem to belong here. Two shows, not one, are getting close to ready.

Tonight when he comes home, bearing art supplies and supper and scrapes off the couch so he can sit down after his own long day, I will let him know that " I just love him because I can take him for granted."

I finally got it!


A "walk" sign from Paris

Signs near the Louvre Escalator. There were many more. No to everything!

I have compromised immunities because of cancer treatment.

My personality doesn't like that. "It" likes to rush around being a social butterfly. "It" likes to have something lovely to drink occasionally. "It" likes to work 24 hours a day when it wants.
Somehow "It" still hasn't adjusted to the fact there are limits.

Mostly I feel pretty well these days but last night had to be the worst in a long time. Hopefully my fever has broken.

"It" is promising to take the vitamins and drink the juices. The nap will have to happen. No sweets will be eaten. Nothing but swiss chard, carrots and garlic and ginger tea.

I spent the day yesterday making silk fusion papers for the Eastside Culture Crawl and Numen. Poor Hilary left early with the flu after she showed me her delicious sample book of delicate and beautiful carved poyesters. The papers turned out lovely and thick. No colour was used on them and the only embedding was from the wild silk rovings. I finished two more globes.

Paper mache and globe burning are the order of the day. The gut hasn't arrived from Stuffers.
It has to get here today or it won't dry on time for Numen unless it goes into a dehydrater.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Silk worm Cocoons

I have spent the day locked in process.
Masked and armoured I managed to get a huge chunk of work knocked off.

It was important to experiment today so the new industrial foam was pulled out and sprayed into a paper mache globe. Not successful and the weather was very moist so it took a long time to set. Not pleasing. The day was saved by the arrival of wild silk rovings, cocoons and new experimental mediums.

There is a way to make silk paper without the environmental challenge it now holds.
Cornstarch, spray starch and rice starch are all supposed to work. The gut will be even better.

I cut into cocoons and they each held a tiny metamorphic monster. The sericin, the sticky stuff that harden the cocoons, might be able to be reconstituted if they are washed and the fluid left to evapourate.

I am still sick and staying in the mask is awful. The brain fuzz of yesterday reminded me why I am such a fanatic about them. So did Arlee Barr.

Tomorrow I will try making pods and cocoons from it and finish another globe.

New Life

Abigail Doan posing with perfect creations... Jasper and Oliver
October 10, 2007

Artist Abigail Doan and her husband Ludmil have just had their twin babies.
Jasper and Oliver are tiny, perfect beings and all are healthy and well.
They will have a little stay in Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York until closer to their original due date.

I loved having babies.

Lovely news for a lovely morning.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hidden Poems.

Globes with hidden poems 2007
Patricia Chauncey

Today I burnt, mached. stitched foamed. painted and burned the globes. I formed little poems that are hidden in them. No one will ever find them because they are buried and placed in different layers. Only I know where they are and what they say. That will be forgotten soon.

Each globe has at least one hidden treasure that will never be revealed or found because the secret becoimes part of the whole. It allows me a break in the obsessive construction and application of the surface texture and marks.

Now my living room looks as if a strange bird nested here. The studio is full of completed ones.

Tomorrow the gut arrives and so does all the silk. Deadlines will be met.

I am sick today with a hideous sore throat. Good news is the garbage strike is over and they are coming to pick up the garbage tomorrow for the first time in three months! I am actually fairly proud to say that we have one garbage can, a leaf collector and one garbage bag full of stuff.

Tonight we will mine through it and pull out anything recyclable.

Things learned from the garbage strike.

1. Our family makes a lot less garbage than I thought.
2. I love my city workers.
3. There are lots more leaves falling from the trees than remembered.
4. Rats like to lick food wrappers. They also breed quickly.
5. People can get used to the smell of anything.
6. Take out food makes up a huge part of our garbage.
There is a poem hidden in the garbage container and it too will be forgotten.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What To Do?

What is happening to textile arts?

It has taken years and years to get textile arts recognized as a serious art form. There is only one place in Vancouver that has dedicated itself to a program for the exclusive study of the fabric arts. Our three universities and government funded art school have neglected the serious study of textile arts for years and it has been relegated to a two year college program. Anyone wanting a BFA in Fibres has to go away from here to Alberta, Quebec or Nova Scotia.

The textile art courses taught at one of our universities has been relegated to some place in Home Economics or the Agricultural Science Department. Dedication by educators like Johanna Staniskis has preserved what there is.

Last night I was asked as a board member of our guild to decide whether or not I would agree that we needed to attend the farm fair. How charming! How about a church basement tea for grannies?

Professional members of our guild who are leaving because of the over involvement of hobbyists. They need a more serious venue to discuss work, techniques, and challenges faced by textile artists. Instead they are being faced with cutie pie crafty sales and products.

When dedicated professionals are faced with this they flee because time is a very precious thing to waste. When the dedicated professionals don't attend or become discouraged by the more nightmarish and commercial aspects of textiles the whole guild suffers. Standards really collapse and we then become surrounded by images of halluciously coloured, flying cliches that are made as kits and duplication without analysis.

Don't get me wrong. I consider myself a farm kid. I honour the work of my great- grandmothers. I love sheep and pumpkins. I just don't want textile art to become an anachronism where we are only allowed, once again, to show in church halls and elementary school fundraising sales.

Textile art is a serious art form. The question is how do we become inclusive and involved in sharing without falling down this slippery slope?

I need the professionals and consider myself an artist but I am delighted by the enthusiasm and skills the hobbyists bring. I just don't think they should run the whole agenda.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Small World

Breast Carcinoma Cells

Mouse Embryos


Sweet Naughty Peter sent me the best pictures this morning and I had to share them.

They are from the Nikon Small World 2007 Photomicroscopy contest and they blow me out of the water. I just want to shrink down and witness these landscapes close up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Paper Folding

Yvonne Wakabayashi can fold things and never look disheveled.

The last few days, terrifying experiences aside, have been spent folding paper.
Then tearing paper and ripping and cutting paper and plastering it on globes and large forms.
These gloppy tasks have been done to provide bases for the new sculptures.

Experiments with new bonding materials have resulted in a different surface to play with.

Everything is taking a long time to dry and the application for preparation is becoming a bit tedious. Production work has never been a forte and rebelliousness starts to creep in with feelings of becoming a bit of a machine. This probably developed as a result of those doll making days producing volume for craft fairs years ago.

Madeline Woods has now left for her holiday in Cypress. She encouraged me to enjoy the task of art making before leaving. She paints beautiful and extremely detailed botanical images and explores colour and texture with enormous patience.

Hilary worked in the studio alone today. I usually love working with her and hearing stories about Scotland. But I sat in the armchair and destroyed livingroom, kitchen, and bathroom.
Tim came home to a very grumpy partner, covered in gloop, with unidentifiable
objects stuck to eyebrows and more hidden body parts. Paper is stuck to my barefeet.

Tomorrow I apply the fourth and fifth layers. Burning won't even start to happen until Saturday if things dry quickly.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

House Fires

Last night was beyond traumatic for me.

I had crawled into bed after an exhausting day and fell asleep almost instantly which is rare.
The phone rang and I almost didn't pick it up but my mother has been ill. The call was from my son Dane saying that the house in Winnipeg was on fire.

Someone unknown had woken him from a deep sleep by banging on the door. He was sleeping on the third floor of our house. He looked outside to see flames leaping around the building next door. He had to evacuate the house with no shoes or shirt into the sleeting, thick, late fall rain.
The building next door was shooting flames and the jerks had placed a scaffold at the side of our house without permission. He ran from the house with lap top, cell phone and collector vintage records in tow.

Neighbours were all around and no one offered him a place to sit or shelter. He called me because he had left his wallet in the house and was told to leave the house for the night.

We had to find him a hotel from Vancouver and guarantee it would be paid for. Many hotels in Winnipeg won't rent to young people from the town. The Holiday Inn were more than accomodating and gave us a deal.

You can bet we are very suspicious about this fire. It has now been reported by us as such.

The construction workers have been harrassing Dane and his roomate for week refering to them as "parking lot boys", saying that our house was " going to be plowed down to a parking lot". The manager of the project came over and offered Dane money for the house at least sixty thousand dollars less than market.

Dane was able to check out the house today and the damage seems minimal which we won't know until the inspectors go through.

The good part is that he is safe and sound and enjoying himself in a nice hotel with good food and drink. Tomorrow he writes his mid-term exams.

I ,in the meantime, am wrestling with insurance and trying to get ready for my show at Numen.
I may work with pyro textiles but I don't want a real fire in my house. I use nothing but safe techniques and never burn in the house.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Kitchen Sink

It's time to find the bottom of the kitchen sink. The remnants of the last two days of excess are with us and it is time to pack up, clean up and have a long nap.

This year we indulged in wild salmon caught by our dear friend Peter's father in northern coastal waters. Bren and Megs brought an amazing mole rice and beans, garlic loaf and beautiful flowers. We also ate smoked turkey breast, brussels sprouts and chesnuts, wild rice salad with fresh apples and pecans, nutmeg roasted carrots, yams and baby beets, fresh tasty tomatoes and green beans, whipped garlic smashed potatoes. Much of it was grown in our little garden. There was wine and Tim made delicious cranberry martinis for after our pumpkin and Mississippi mud pies.

My mother and Gayla came but our other children were all over the country. The gathering was smaller than usual but the company was lively and everything from sex, religion and politics was fought over. Mother commented about the calories because she is teeney weeny and starving herself, Gayla obcessed about her self indulgent ex, Tim took "control", I retrieved it and got grumpy and Brendan just knew "everything". Poor Meg just watched our dynamic with a little horror but everyone survived. Things didn't wrap up until well after midnight.

Thankfully we don't have to do this again until Christmas.

Now it is back to work creating disply units for the globes and my new show at Numen Gallery starting October 27. More about that later.

Happy Thanksgiving and Peace soon please!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Spider Woman

Spiders of arid New Mexico and Arizona

Arachne shows her lovely form again.

I attended a lecture tonight given by Barbara Tyner, an archaeologist and an art historian specializing in Navajo weaving and culture. She reminded me that the universe was indeed woven by spider woman. She showed some photographs of early Pueblo grass weaving and a historical perspective on weaving covering the nineteen cultures of the area.

I always feel dizzy and upset when faced with the oppression and near annihilation of people who were placed in concentration camps for years and made to travel far from home without resources as Navajo were in the "Long March".

I always have questions about what it means when academics are talking about pre and post contact. Cultures like the Navajo have always been in contact with others. What do they consider in their current contact with people like the Dali Lama who is convinced they originated in Tibet because of shared practise like sand painting, origin stories and weaving techniques.

I am happy that the spider woman created the universe and that she keeps rebuilding her web.
I am happy when extreme experience is used to create beauty and harmony and that flexibility and transformation allow people to continue to thrive despite racism and external control.

The spider woman just weaves and spins away.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

White on White

Globe 2007 (detail)
Paper Mache, rice paper, the "Georgia Strait", rice paste, pyrography
Patricia Chauncey

Some meetings with Gallery owners and curators go much better than others. It is great when the meeting results in inspiration and a new perspective on your work.
I had a meeting like that yesterday. Things were revealed to me about the stack of work.

For some reason, as yet unknown to me, the style of my work has been changing and feeling more integrated with other things in my life. The new work is more subtle and made with a more deliberate hand. The materials being used are still being pushed to an inch of existence
but have a more coral and shell like appearance. The skins are reflecting more inner light. The colour palette has become quite subtle and muted. Don't get me wrong. Things still rip, tear, burn and explode but they are starting to become less hoopla and more believable.

I could see a progression in the work yesterday and was reminded of reading an old journal out loud to someone.The end result of the meeting was me feeling more determined to explore more subtle aspects of the visuals while holding what I have learned during the last few years.

All textile methods are extreme. Take a thread, turn it into a cloth, change it's colour, cut it up,
alter it. But there is something to be said about leaving a little something to the imagination.

The end result of the meeting is a chance to explore both a new gallery and a slightly different and more honest perspective on my work.

How lovely is that!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


We Are Family 2006 (Set of 30)
paper mache, dye, bee's wax, parrafin wax, beading, pyrography, stitching
Patricia Chauncey
I feel like this today! All bumps, lumps and yucky bits!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Press Photo's In

Return To Mecca (detail) complex velvet cloth
dyed, discharged, silk screened, applique, foiled. hand stamped, hand painted and stitched
Patricia Chauncey
collection of Christine Basque

Meg and Brendan worked until late last night pulling together photos for the East Side Culture Crawl Press Kit. Meg also designed me a new card for Invitations etc. She was really easy to work with, taught me some new tricks on the puter, and produced good product with little fuss or bother.

I got them in on time after climbing the stairs of an old building in a nasty area. The studio, however, was gorgeous. All light filled because of huge windows and high cielings and tons of storage areas. HMMM....

Tim dragged me out to Floata and we had Peking duck and an amazing lettuce wrap. I am so full I can't even squirm.

Tomorrow I meet with a new gallery owner. Will be wearing my new boots.

New Boots

My Brand New Boots from Torrid

I am a boot woman. I have worn them since chidhood and was given my first pair of red cowboy boots. Gumboots and Wellys were worn even when it didn't rain. White Go-Go boots were a present for my 14th birthday. I bought two pairs of boots when I got my first serious paycheck after graduating from my Rehabilitation Councelling courses with the University of Calgary/ Vocational Rehabilitation and Research Institute. One pair was a lace up granny boot from Spain made from the softest turquoise-teal suede. They laced up to my thighs and took about an hour to get on. The second pair was a stompin' knee high army boot made from buttery goat skin from Morocco. They were black, substantial and lasted about 15 years with serious use until Doc Marten's came along.

I have had red , white, blue , brown, lizard, platform, stiletto, cocktail, and very high top red sneakers.

Today I got new boots from California. They are tall, black and either riding boots or pirate boots depending on the angle. The only sensible thing about them is the 1 inch heel. They take one minute to put on and come off, without help, in another minute! But they aren't coming off today...