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, December 30, 2008

New Year's Changes

I just got back from the last trip I have to make to the Doctor in 2008. I am amazingly well considering the alternatives. Blood pressure is great. Eyes are just showing signs of allergy not serious sight problems. Inflammation is easy to deal with. Attitude is good. Full cancer work up in a few weeks and then done for six months. It is becoming so much less important to life.

Susan and Georgine's deaths have taught that no one has a lot of time to waste. Bruce Elkin reminded me that little tasks done consistently turn into great big accomplishments.
So I am starting the new year with a clean house, a clean bill of health and clean sheets. This works well for my fetish, which includes a soft, red flannel nightie, cocoa, clean sheets and good company. The company is very good this year and looks smashing in his red long johns! I have tried and tried but he won't wear the nightie or even the red flannel night shirt sewed for him.
We have discovered a cocoa nog chai latte just by splooshing things together!

I had to turn invitations down this New Year's Eve. Haven't had to do this for a few years. I am booked up socially for the next few months and this is now more like pre-cancer life. Can't take energy for granted, however, and will preserve far more time than before. New words for the coming year are savour and enjoy!

Lovely Hilary is staying in the studio. She is smart, talented, funny and considered.
Michelle Sirous Silver is working in the studio right now for the next little while. She is a rug hooker and needs a place to work for a little while. I'd love to have a larger studio and have all kinds of amazing people around but space is a bit tight right now with incoming projects. We will have to just lend her the studo when we can. She would certainly be a lovely person to have around.
Work is now coming together for the spring and summer. Sketches and plans are getting made. Themes are being explored and opportunities are showing up in large ways. Collaborations are forming and the possibilities look very bright and enticing.

I can't wait for the New Year to start! Happy New Year everybody!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Booge Woogie Christmas

The best Christmas! Most of my children and their spouses arrived safe and sound. There was a hole where Dane was supposed to be but we were all glad he was safe an warm in house in Winnipeg.

So dinner guests included a female Indiana Jones, a rebel city planner, our own real bar tender, an actress, an avalanche rescue specialist, paramedic, an oncologist, two artists and a dog named Rat.

Food was served all day.The piano was armed by the onclogist who plays a mean boogie woogie and the city planner who has a wicked baritone. I did a mean version of my hog hollar and the actress did a perfect Morrocan mountain call. Rat got terrible gas and cleared the place twice until she was banished to the van.

The snow is now hip deep and almost impossible to walk in. More like heavy whip cream.
Tim and Chris, of course, have decided to go sailing in the morning. What? I'll throw a bucket of ice water at them if they like.

There no drama at dinner. Unbelievable for this mob.

Everything is now cleaned up and I'll use the next few days for stitching. Have been saving antique French linen for the occassion. Time to load up with movies and books.

P.S. My neice gave me a flower labeled in English and Latin. It is a wild flower from near I grew up. Called wild shooting star. G. G. Adams would be thrilled.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sheet Ice

The streets are either ice ruts or sheet ice. I ventured out after Christmas cleaning and navigated in he bright, snowy sunlight with my faulty eyes and balance. I couldn't find my pickled herring anywhere. All I can say is that it wouldn't be the holiday without baba ganoush, spicy olives and turkish delight.

More baking tonight. Will make Irish gingerbread and proper shortbread and real sugar plums.
A version of rumballs will be attempted.

Best news is that they have now managed to repair the Winnipeg house and Dane will be back in it for Christmas Eve! Wish he was home but am happy that he will be safe and warm.

Monday, December 22, 2008


The best part about being Unitarian is that I get to celebrate everything if I choose. Tonight I choose Hanukkah.

Tonight I am going to a second night Hanukkah party with a whole range of people from Jews to Anglicans. I love latkes, apple sauce and sour cream. I love candles and Mogan David (if you don't count the night we stole and drank a huge bottle from Darryl Nagler's parents when I was 15. I still gag at the thought!)

We once missed a Hanukkah party when Brendan was 9. He made us light candles after he made a makeshift menorah. "Tradition is tradition!" he explained.

I am not quite sure about Unitarian traditions other than lighting the chalice, peace marches and arguments.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Figgy Pudding

No escaping. I am it! Most of my children will be here for the holiday. Therefore I will get into the spirit of a creative holiday.

Parcels have been shipped to my family and Tim's family and a few friends. Shortbread and Almond Roca are being cooked and Tim is steaming his Christmas Puddings from Great Granny Waddington's recipe from Haworth, England.

There is still no heat in Winnipeg, gas electricity and water are turned off and a new storm front is blasting all across Canada. Dane and tenants are now safely housed in hotels.

All I can do now is cuddle up to my sweety, drink hot chai with Baileys or mulled wine and look out at the beautiful snow. Ahhhhh!

Mulled Wine Recipe

1 bottle of red wine
1/2 cup apple cider
1T orange peel
3 cinnamon sticks
1t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
candied ginger to taste
allspice berries about 10
1 oz. brandy
1/3 cup honey (I like mountain wild flower)

Throw into the crock pot on low and wait for about an hour.

Make the above with no alcohol if you like by not adding the wine and brandy and substituting a carton or a quart of apple cider (non- alcoholic).

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus!
He came in the form of a ferocious insurance adjuster named Brett and his side kick, Mr Hard Ass the lawyer!

They listened to our tale of rack and ruin and leaped into steeley eyed action in less than one hour. The lawyer had decided to greet the sales rep who was sent to intimidate my son and tenants into claiming responsibiity for all the damage the contracters made.

Inspectors swarmed the place, made business licenses appear, etc.

My exhausted son and husband were assured that not only would the work be done properly but damage would be repaired in a timely manner or the best, most expensive journeyman
would be called and charged back to the culprits.

Don't mess with me! I'll pull out my cancer card and show you how many heros come to my rescue.

Now back to my creepy little sock monkeys!


I was toilet trained in an outhouse at 40 below! I am a tough woman.

Circumstances have illustrated the "Butterfly Effect" this week. The "Butterfly Effect" is a theory that something as small as a butterfly flapping it's wings can have an impact on wind currents throughout the world.

This week has been awful. Last Wednesday my husband's first wife died after a terrible and long illness. My step children and the whole family are deeply sad. On Thursday a small washing machine connection pipe dislocated in my house in Winnipeg. The persistent water flooded the basement and drowned the motherboard on the furnace. The furnace turned off in incredibly cold outside temperatures. The furnace repairmen came to fix it. Next morning the heat wasn't on yet and they returned to discover the thermostat fried during the night. The house got so bitterly cold that the tenants fled to warmer houses and my son trundled on waiting for repair people. He left to warm up and returned to a house smelling of gas despite turning of everything. He went into the basement and gas was bubbling up.
The repair people returned and an argument ensued about how the work that had not been done properly. My son told them to protect the motherboard whih was moved when the ceiling pipe burst on everyone. Second motherboard destroyed. Pipes started popping.

To make a long story short. The house is now evacuated. My son is now sick with the flu. He failed hs exams. The tenants are homeless. One of them is now on suicide watch. The insurance are arguing responsibility.

We are all doing amazingly well despite all this crap! Everyone in our litle family is figuring out how to help. Money is being pooled. New homes are being sought. Pop bottles are being collected.

We might not be able to fix the house now until spring. We are also checking to see if the new apartment next door wants it for a parking lot.

My children and I may be whiny but we are resilient and tough. All trouble passes with time and effort. We are very creative people and can think our way out of this. We work hard and don't get stuck in the detals. Things don't alway happen the way you expect them to but change happens whethr you want it or not.

Change is what you make it.

I am going to see if I can put my mendng skills together on some pipes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wasps Nests

Brie and I finally connected in the studio yesterday. She is one of my beautiful neices. She is also an artist.

We had the best afternoon digging through old boxes and storage tins. She found my more precious possesions and clearly shares some of my visual passions. We are both texture fiends and are attracted to the darker side of beauty.

How wonderful to share an appreciation for lichen on sidewalks , botanical fossils, gorry bits, old lizard skins, wasps nests and worm eaten wood. We both love bugs and bones. We both get visually lost in texture and surface possibilities.

She said something that chilled my blood. "I need people to touch my work so they will understand it." This must be a genetic thing. All this touching. I always invite people to touch my work and explain that they won't understand it unless they touch it!

I asked her where she would most like to live in the world. She wants to live in an old stone cottage in France where she lived a few years ago. I, on the other hand, want to live in an old stone cottage I found an hour from Paris. Looks like we wll need to explore this further.

I have always understood that we share an esthetic sense. I now understand how much we share in terms of processing and understanding of the world. I also shared much of that understanding with my Great Grandmother.

Brie is a wonderful painter. She is also a wonderful neice.

We walked up to Sweet Cheribum and had a late lunch. We chose the same thing to eat. Later we walked by a shoe store and lusted after the same pair of boots.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fifty Below

I have crawled under the comfy and called it quits for today. I might stay here forever.

The worst week in a very long time.

My eye is infested. Or infected. My other eye isn't working. I know I don't seem to be dealing with stress very well and need to think about how to do it better or at least drink! I don't drink very often except for champagne if I get my hands on it.

Today was spent dealing with the furnace installation in Winnipeg. They came after three days of no heat. The pipes are now bursting. The weather is now below -fifty with the wind chill factor. The new furnace was installed by heroes today. They had to put in a new vent to the outside and ended up breaking drill bit after drill bit with the cold.

I am here in Vancouver and the weather here has dropped well below zero. We have snow and ice on the ground. New rodents decided to move into the roof with the cold temperature. They hold body heat and until it warms up they are welcome.

My insurance guy said Winnipeg isn't covered for this damage. Oh yeah!!! I just called an adjuster friend and she'll get this through.

The people in Winnipeg are amazing through this. They have showed hospitality to my tenants and my son. They are going to hold a "Social" which is a fundraiser to help people out. The musicians are getting together to help out. The whole wroks of them can take over my house for the next few days andhave the time of their life as far as I am concerned.

My step kids are now moving stuff out of their mom's home. Her cremation is on Wednesday.
They are amazing and doing so well. They are like my husband. Matter of fact and logical.

The Irish Newfoundlander part of me is shocked at the way English people do death. We always carry on, have a big party, fight, drink and do something outrageous. My Uncle was arrested at my Gran's funeral riding a horse backwards completely naked down the main street of her town. When Grampa died his mistress showed up and confessed to the shocked audience and Grandma had her thrown to the street. These people are far more Methodist than we are.

Wakes are the best parties we ever have!

Tomorrow is a new day nd I am going o the studio to meet Brie. She is one of my lovely neices. I will feed her and fuss over her and she will hopefully haul of some of my stuff. We will get to share techniques and play with new stuff. She is painter with textile sensibilities. She is just enterng her Master's program and is living in a brand new loft in Chinatown.

Sometimes tomorrows are better than todays!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Susan is Gone

Susan Smith-Hurley-Dufton was my husband's first wife and the mother to my incredible step sons. She passed away and I heard about it this morning.

Her children loved her very much. She gave birth to incredible children. She was formidable and incredibly hard working. She was also very intelligent. Her children share those traits.

She loved Christmas. Christmas was what she mastered at. No one could bake a better fruitcake or make better homemade mincemeat than Sue. She loved twenty foot trees and enormous piles of presents. She knew how to mix every drink going. She was incredibly tough, brass and bold. She could carry a tune.

She never got to see the birth of her first grandchild. Didn't get old enough to retire at 54.

I am much flimsier emotionally and physically. I didn't always fight hard and even passed into a place where I welcomed death. She fought tooth and nail with such amazing will. She fought to her last breath. Somehow I survived this hideous illness and she didn't. I was so much sicker than her in the beginning. Sick for longer. Less chance to survive. Something changed that. No reason really.

I promise to cherish her children. I love them deeply. Doesn't matter than she and I never became friends. I will let her grandchildren know her best qualities. They won't get to know them Hopefully they will get to know my best and worst.

Each day we get to live is a surprise. So are each lesson and gift others give us without meaning to!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wet Bottoms

Sock Monkey from lennytaylor.freeyellow.com
Yesterday was one of those days that was eventful from morning to bed.

My son called and had a pipe burst in the house in Winnipeg. My furnace also shut off. It is a lovely big old Arts and Crafts house in an old neighbourhood in one of the coldest cities in Canada. It was really cold yesterday and pipes burst and furnaces blew out all over Winnipeg.

I have three students for tenants including my son. The house was in danger and we had to wait hours for a furnace guy. The tenants and Dane, all musicians, had to load up their musical gear and move it from room to room. Dane bundled up, tenants found others to stay with and the furnace guy showed to tell him that the water had completely damaged the mother board on the furnace. He charged $100 for the visit and left Dane numbers to call to check on the price of a new high efficiency furnace. The prices are a complete shock!

The van has to be removed from the road because it failed Air Care! My trusty old, haul all my art and let me sleep in it vehicle!

I spent last month purchasing new machines because I felt like I could squeak them by financially. Hah!
The converters look really extravagant now! So does the new camera!

So I know what I am getting for Christmas, New Years and the next few birthdays! A brand new efficient bouncing baby furnace!

Good news is that I found my favourite customer's phone number tucked in a pile of receipts from the CRAWL. He wanted to buy more of my art and has some microscopic pictures of cells to cheer me up. Maybe I can talk him out of his violet fedora.

The machines are all fired up now because everyone is getting something hand made or home cooked for gifts this year. The little girls all want sock monkeys and I have been resisting the pull to make sock monkeys with deformity, derangement and drool! Resistance is futile!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I am not a Christmas person. It seems to be a holiday wrought with hidden landmines.
I am appalled by the tacky excess assaulting me at every turn. How delicate and overly sensitive people are this time of year.

I used to work as a street social worker and an anti poverty organizer. The excess at Christmas drowned nearly everyone in sight. Organization lacking volunteers most of the year had them lined up forty deep for the holiday.

Couldn't the excess energy spent on making tinsel and turkey be better used lobbying government and building houses for all year? It is really nasty weather in February. It rains almost solid and is awful in October. People still sleep in my park in November.

Every year at least one excluded and left out person I knew decided that Christmas would be a symbolic time to off themselves. Almost everyone I knew was completely exhausted distressed and financially ruined in January.

This year it would be fun to find a compacter and gather up every christmas delight, crush it into a little solid block and offer it as housing materials for the homeless here. We could build whole cities with the stuff left over in this neighbourhood.

I used to cook celebrations for 20-30 people. Few of them were related to me. Last year I gave my loved ones to others as a gift. My partner went to be with his 95 year old father. That was his father's last Christmas living on his own. My son's went to girlfriends families and my stepsons went to be with their extremely ill mother. My step son Chris and Vashti stopped by Christmas Eve and delivered baking and practical goodies. Gayla, my Jewish friend, came by and fed me cicken soup to nurse me through a high fever and bad cough. I barely got off the couch.

Brendan and Megan want to do Christmas with me this year. Dane wants to come home. I want to go hide on a beach and drink myself silly. But I wont. I will probably make turkey and shortbread. Tim will be jolly and generous. Chris and Vashti will bake amazing goodies and Stephen will mysteriously and unexpectedly drop by.

The front o the house will have lights nad a wreath. The back of the house will have a beacon that says, "bah humbug", a feeder for the rats and little Santas all hung by their boots.
You can tell a lot about a person by the back of their house.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Tim was home sick for two days. Poor thing just lay on the couch and moan. The moaning usually started when I entered any room he was in. Now I am feeling sick. Not terrible but just enough to let me know what well feels like.

This was probably a good thing because it forced me to settle and do a little research nd dig out the rest of the laundry. I also cooked buckets of soup. Soup always makes Tim stop whining.
Clean sheets help too.

He decided that he wanted to leave Vancouver and raise chickens again. He wanted to move to Alaska and do this. His life, he says, is getting meaningless. I know he is sick. Two days ago he loved his job. He was thrilled at our family and loved his new involvement in sculpture and design. Nothing can be more unpredictable than a plus fifty man with a runny nose and back pain. Sheeeessshhh!

I spent the day feeling decidely unartistic. More or less unhip and sloggy. Kinda older and used up. I really just spent the day fighting for couch, bed covers or the remote.

Vivian called and we further designed the underwater costume. I can even teach her how to do things by telephone. She is truly amazing.

Once I taught a "hot textiles" class and one of my enthusiatic students threw a smoldering sample into a bin of other fabric. We ended up smoking out the school, the administration staff and half killed the other students. Lesson learned " Always seperate your fabrics and leave them in front of you near your personal bucket of water."

I need a hot toddy but breast cancer people aren't really supposed to drink so I'll just make some tea. Tea with a shot!

Floating Things

My beautiful and talented niece, Brie, was supposed to show up for a little holiday tea at the studio yesterday. I forgot to confirm with her and she forgot to phone. We ended up having to postpone until next week.

I sat there with the organic, vegan holiday lunch looking at me when Vivian Bauman arrived bearing a delicious fruitcake and tea.

Vivian has been working as a costumer in both film and theatre for a few years and has skills that make me drool. She is also a "Prairie Girl" and has a wicked but subtle sense of humour.
She came to share some ideas she is exploring for costumes for an underwater scene.

I had the best time as we sat an played with ideas, alternate possibilities, materials and some of the more simple extreme techniques. She had already burnt edges in the most delicate way. Tidy, perfect and precise. She presented little ribbons of samples, all in white, that made it easy to see what else could be done. Possibility after possibility showed up in no time.

She showed me how to make a green screen suit. Green screen suits are used as invisible costumes for animation. The green doesn't show up when filmed with appropriate filters or something. Beautiful face masks, body suits and long gloves. Completely elegant but like some kinksters super hero costume. She always adds a little nasty bit like an extra ear, horn or tail nub or something to keep the crew a little more amused.

There is nothing like communicating with another creative person who shares a language. Each of us has very different skills but can talk textile without skipping a vowel. So I spent a productive afternoon with wonderful company and got to learn to use a thimble properly.

Thank you so much support that people sent me regarding the writer trauma. It was very appreciated!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Last Post

I have removed the last posting from my blog because on reflection and further information from said writer I decided it wasn't fair.

I still feel some of what I felt. Recognizing myself and incidents I experienced with a special person was completely unnerving. He was decent and brave enough to contact me and ask questions about my feelings. Cads do not do that as a matter of habit. They are not usually confused by the reaction of their victims. They are not sensitive and also hurt by the response.

I was also reminded that as an artist I have used images and photographs of him in a very exposing and explicit manner and he didn't always like what I did with his image. He trusted that I would be responsible with inspiration I used that was about him.

Making art and writing really are so very similar when it comes to inspiration and process. It takes hard work and persistence to get it done. We are as vulnerable as our muses when our work is viewed and criticized. We are vulnerable when we offer ourselves up for creative exchange.

Trust and communication are such a huge part of the shared creative process, perhaps even more than with ordinary friendship or work. Dealing with delicate and human motivations as a subject matter requires a mature objectivity. The writer and I agreed to use one another as inspiration a long time ago now. It was an obvious connection because we just work that way. With lots of struggle sometimes. Hopefully with a strong ethic and little inhibition.

Karma is an interesting concept. It works in more than one way. Like all consequence it works on layers and is multi directional. Karma isn't revenge for a "bad" action or a reward for a "good" action. I wonder how Karma works when there is more than one person involved?

Things are never just black and white. Like with colour, we need to define our recipes and palettes. We also need to accept that sometimes accidents and rips happen. One day a disaster the next one of the most inspiring colours ever.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting It Done

I seem to spend so much time imagining what I could make rather than making it.
Sketches aren't making something and neither is talking about it.

Celine and I had tea last night and we talked about motivation and imagination. We also talked about future projects and possibilities. This went well with ginger cookies and shortbread.

It has been more than a year since we met. She came to me just before the last Culture Crawl and asked me to be the first show in her new gallery. Numen Gallery. It was the best experience I have had with a gallery.

The process of imagining and setting up the "Wonderland " show was so much fun. We worked until very late at night for a couple of days and spent time imagining other work. Scott, Tim Celine and I worked like a smooth machine. We were all very compatible while getting the set-up done. Almost like old friends but immediate.

Celine and I just can't seem to talk for a few minutes. A fifteen minute planned meeting will go on for hours. Hours never seem like enough time. Every discussion is productive and something new gets tried or explored.

I revealed my experiments with the large fibreglass balls. They sat on the floor like mushrooms or back lit beings and she saw them immediately. Her response to them was perfect. I was so afraid to show them but they are nearly finished now and the small sized samples just doesn't show the quality of them.

Sometimes showing new stuff that is important to me at a "dog and pony" show doesn't give me what I want. Hearing about how amazing my work is is great. Hearing that it is awful is also just great but I want trained evaluation and criticism every once in awhile. Celine has the curatorial skills to do that. She can dig into my work and show me what I can't see. Her suggestions for improvement are almost always helpful to my practise.

Encouragement from Celine helps get the work done.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Later That Day

I have been struggling with colour breakdown and analysis all day. I have training as a precision dyer and all skills, even the rusty ones, are needed today.

What percentage of blue, grey green, black, rust, orange, violet and yellow make up the varigations in lichen. How much Ivory, and scarlet is required in a yard of cloth that will be melted and further broken down, Transfer dyes, paints or vat dyes? At what point do the applications get done? Burn first? Dye first? Paint before and after for a more distressed effect?

What about the emulsions? What percentage of pigment will give the most ashy appearance? What temperature will work before and after? Iron, torch, boil or heat blast? How ill the devore chemicals effect the mixed cloths.

Where is my old calculater? I relate to it more than the glowing screen. The glowing screen keeps track of all the information in a much more efficient way but it means changing old habits. The computer doesn't work well near the dye tub!

Solved some of the problems with old distressed and burnt cloth. Now for the thread mixes and colouring.

All this while still trying to clean up in here. Craving food only food cooked in this kitchen.

Still trying to accomplish the large cocoons and pupae. They are sitting in the corner awaiting care. Beautiful turquoise leather is rotting away in a rusty pan bringing out unexpected colours. The rest can now be wrapped around the old stove pipe from Britannia Beach now.

Breath in...Breath out!

Sleepless in East Vancouver

Prairie Lichen Photo Stephen Langton Goulet (my ex-husband and father of my son Dane)

Late at night is a favourite time to do visual research. No one ends up interupting. No phone calls, no drop-ins, no meals to prepare. I have to be quiet so reading, looking and a little hand stitching are about all that can be done.

I am alone now more than ever. No full time job after years of working but not retired for a few years yet. No children at home for the next while and a very independent partner. I work from home, my studio and also the van. Loneliness isn't an option.

The street here is lively but there is a time between 3:00 and 5:00 am when almost no one is around except a few more interesting and larcenous creatures. I end up being the one on the street that catches them in the act of walking off with bikes, cars and plant pots. Never understood the plant pot thing but everyone loves a garden.

Tonight no one is around except a black and white alley cat. Tim is snoring away in the background. I am up looking at photos of lichen on bark and pulling together a sample book for a meeting with a new curator.

Tomorrow night I reveal my large resin globes to Celine from Numen Gallery. They are dry now and are ready for the next application when inspiration strikes. Some are also being weather tested. We will make more of them in different sizes.

The photos of my pupae nest didn't turn out and I can't find the number for the man who bought them. He wanted to contact me about buying another work so maybe a photo can happen then.

Observation. People who buy the globes , pupae and nests cradle them as they carry them away. Like pets or babies only kinda funny lookin'...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Breath

Rain Forest Path Shannon Falls 2008 Tim Hurley
tree lichen Porteau Cove 2008 Tim Hurley

Lichen Britannia Beach 2008 Tim Hurley

The physical realities of the landscape nearby is astounding. My lungs are still full from the balsalm air taken in this weekend.

I spend so much time in this city but it is so beautiful 1/2 an hour out of town. The landscape is so extreme that it almost doesn't seem real. I am still astonished everytime I go and spend time in this amazing forest.

My dreams are filled with lichen, mushrooms and mist. The rain on my roof last night was life affirming. Images of frailty and intricacy are everywhere in my thoughts. My direction is clear.

There are still balance problems to deal with because these eyes aren't fully aligned yet. It is a bit like operating with the mirrors of a car not quite in the right position. Double vision hits about 10-15 feet away and makes navigating in forest paths a little challenging. My hunter gatherer abilities have been impacted. I need companions to help me with the scouting. But there are willing people who really like getting to play my eyes. It is fun to teach other people to look with my way of seeing. They do pretty well if I show them how. It is interesting to negotiate this challenge.

I don't have any problem seeing close up. The microscopic and teeny weeny are draws. Stages of life and decomposition still fascinate. The small is so important because it was nearly lost.

Today I am doing practicals like banking, bill paying and groceries. Later I hope to finish drawing out the lichen forms. The construction of them seems so simple. The palette has been decided. I like the one that exist in it's smoky grey greens and contrasts. Obsessing about the layers!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Searching for Ascaphus Truei

Ascaphus Truei Eggs near Shannon Falls 2008 Tim Hurley
Mushrooms Britannia Beach 2008 Tim Hurley

Pine Mushrooms near Shannon Falls 2008 Tim Hurley

Glowing Mushrooms 2008 Tim Hurley

Oyster Mushrooms Shannon Falls 2008 Tim Hurley

Bird's Nest Lichen on Split Rail Fence 2008 Tim Hurley

Woodpecker Storage in Birch Tree 2008 Tim Hurley

Birch Bark Colour Gradation 2008 Tim Hurley

Thursday, November 27, 2008

This is a map of the journey we are taking for visual research this weekend.

Signed Up

I booked in for three important solo shows today and I am thrilled.
One for January, one for March and one in the summer. I will also be sharing a whole series of workshops with Hilary Young on Extreme Textile Process and Extreme Textile Process Using Natural Methods. This means work for a year (or longer). More about this when the papers arrive so I won't jinx the whole thing.

I followed up on the opportunities immediately this year and they won't pass me by. If I can accomplish a show with a sight impairment and have it responded to in such a positive way I might be able to accomplish some of what I want.

Today to celebrate Tim bought me a new camera with 12X optical zoom. It is a sturdy little Fuji.
Finepix S1000. Now I have to figure out how to focus my funky eyes and make it work.

Chrissy Basque, Tim and I will be leaving for a photo research journey this weekend to take pictures of the landscape, flora and fauna along the Sea to Sky Corridor. It is an amazing environment that travels from deep ocean fjords, wild beaches, rain forest, high cliffs and mountain peaks. One of the locations they want me to focus on is the old abandoned mine at Britannia Beach.

So we will bundle up warm because it is snowing, put on our mountain boots and pack hot coffee and cocoa. I will point, Tim will click and Chrissy will make us laugh. I plan to haul back forest leaves, bark, and sea weed to make dye and paper with. I will also take rubbings of everything and borrow rusted objects to rot my silks on. Natural objects will also be borrowed, mapped and returned.

Tomorrow night I just dawn the velvets and get treated to a party at the Hotel Vancouver. A girl couldn't ask for better contrasts.

Lost It

I have misplaced an important contact number. We drove back to the studio tonight and ripped it apart to try and find it. I think I threw it out by accident but the garbage had been taken out.
So on the off chance that lovely Rod Anderson of the Violet fedora, who gifted me the projector and Met Opera films and scripts, is reading this ....contact me. I want to be able to deliver your smaller works and thank you again. I know I put your contact information somewhere safe but it was not at all where I thought it would be.

I did find a lovely note from someone else covered in XXOO's. That person mentioned I was going to meet them at the studio today. I didn't know that and have no idea who they are. I looked at the photograph of the gull and still can't figure it out. Maybe I will put the note over a flame and see if the message is written in lemon juice. Perhaps the mystery will be revealed.

Thank you Mary Ellen for returning all my books and stencils! I had no idea you had that many of them. It was like opening a Christmas present all over again.

There is so much work to do now. I have workshops to plan, a salon to organize, art to finish and deliver and a show in late January. Sometimes doing followup after a show is more interesting than expected.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stop Work

Today was such a sad day. All my work has come to a stop until i figure out what direction to take.

My cousin and his wife both called and have called it quits on a very shaky marraige. Not an unusual situation in this day and age. I wasn't expecting their children to ask me for help and support the way they did. My heart is broken for them.

I come from a huge extended family that is often on the edge of functional. Cousins were often raised in the same house or on the same farm and relate more like siblings than most cousins do. Everyone seems to live in each other's lives somehow. Everyone fights like cats but seem to be there at the worst times. Sometimes this isn't a good thing.

I was working away and feeling delighted with my new lot in life and got pulled back into my old lot in life quite abruptly. Resistance is hard.

What do I do?

I have raised my own children and they are doing well. I have raised some other children and they are too. I don't have energy to take on children again but I love these children. Listening to tiny ones asking for help and trusting you can fix things that are unfixable is an awful experience.

Listening to a little eight year old boy saying, " Aunty Cousin Patty( we pretend we are from the Ozarks) I just feel really tired and sad." reminds me that we impact our children and other family members and hurt them when we don't make wise decisions.

Little one...I just feel really tired and sad too! I will try to do a little something but I just can't make it go away no matter how much I want it to. We all learn hard lessons and I hope you find that place that helps you survive. If it gets bad you can come for a sleepover and read the books that you like and I will make you soup and ice water. Just like you like. Only time takes this away.

I am so sorry for your pain.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hit Like A Wall

Exhaustion hit like a brick wall today. Didn't feel like I had any sleep at all but know I was in bed for hours. Didn't want to eat or drink anything. Not sick but bum tired.

Managed to draw some ideas for the Squamish thing and do a little visual research for some up and coming shows. It looks like I will be busy for awhile.

My old studio came up for rent and I decided it would be better for me not even to apply for it. It had great contact with the outside world and I need more quiet and contempletive space now. Doing shows and workshops is probably enough for now. It would feel like stepping back in time and I really don't like doing the gallery shopkeeper thing as much as I thought. It would also stop me from travelling and I need to do a bunch of that soon. I have some great invitations with lovely people.

I have the sketch book out but am only managing little line drawings to keep track of ideas.

Daily life needs to be sorted. Laundry, dishes, dust and an avalanche of art clutter just never do themselves and I want my red flannel nightie, clean sheets and fluffy towels. A clean bathtub with no art residue would be very nice right now.

Hopefully Tim isn't up for more than jammies, cocoa and a completely unchallenging movie tonight. He will be very disappointed if he even wants me to form a complete sentence!

I drain myself when participating in these shows. Note to self...take a break occassionally and stop parading around quite so much. Adrenalin doesn't really feed your body!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Done Crawlin'

Finished the Eastside Culture Crawl last night after an amazing and successful weekend.
What could possibly be more inspiring than hundreds of people participating in a community art event and sharing with artists?

Old friends and collegues showed up with new babies, grandchildren, and lovers with new stories about their lives. Another generation of dynamic and remarkably talented young people came and shared information about what they knew and let me share what I knew. Hundreds of people came to play in the studio and poked and pinched the remnants and samples of my work. They touched and looked carefully and responded. I had so much fun!!!

I love the reactions people have to extreme textile work. I love the generosity it inspires in others. I met a metallurgist, a entimologist and botanist, a shadow puppet troupe, a carpenter, a number of photographers, a political furniture maker, a dance company, writers and musicians. Many local people attended including politicians who I worked with and against.

A sailor came and bought an old work from the lost coast series. She loved the charts I sewed into the tiny embroideries and recognised the locations! A Chinese film crew, some art professors from Beijing and people inviting me to show work in an old mine shaft came and played in the studio. Tiny children adopted pupae and decided that they contained slugs. Pupae ended up being wrapped in swaddlings of toilet paper and carefully cradled in little arms.( I swear that only West Coast Rain Forest kids could make pets of slugs!) ( I can too!)

A favourite customer from last year came and gave me an amazing gift. He arrived with a whole bunch of old film stock and scripts from years of operas at the Met. He gave me the projector to go with them. Karen and KYd both work with projection and I have been dying to get my mits in! I gave him one of my favourite pieces but it still doesn't seem like enough. Karen and Jim both know what to do with the machine so something will percolate. The same wonderful man is also going to find me some slides and old medical equipment.

My precious old friend Bill Darnell arrived with his nephew. Bill is the man who named Green Peace and was on the boat to Amchitca. He was one of the founding members of this important organization. I haven't seen him for a few years. He radiated sadness and exhaustion. He told me that he and his beloved partner Phyliss lost their son in an accident this summer. He said he was worried that they would be abandoned because of the immensity of sadness and loss.
I know what that feels like.

But the world keeps spinning and we all need to find balance and remember what is really important.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What worked What didn't

After days of living with partial projects some are getting close to finished.

Most successful so far are little earrings made of burnt paper, snake skin photo transfer on poly blend which melts and can be burnt and painted, huge fibre glass globes which might stop stinking soon, tiny cocoons in a nest like egg sacs, distressed leather printed with rust, successful components of all sorts.

Least successful are a beautiful handpainted mouse grey silk mix that was distressed to perfection and then layered with matt medium turning it into a plastic looking ickness. Tiny felted pieces that ended up looking like dryer fluff, snake paper over a glass form that didn't look cellular but very bad bon bon.

Shall try the torch on what doesn't work. It can't look worse and might just end up interesting.

Both the house and studio are unlivible but fun if you don't stay stuck somewhere.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Everything worked today!

I had the best day ever! Everything worked and everything I was looking for showed up!
Obviously feeling much better.

I have been knocked off of Arlee Barr's Blog. It must have been something I said or didn't say. It could have been something I forgot to do...like register or something. Such a loss because it made me feel connected to other textile artists struggling along and trying to create what was swimming around in thier heads.

I will continue to read her because she inspires me to death and makes me laugh. I think I'll send her a hand written letter and send her the mesclun seeds she wanted. I found them again.

Today and yesterday I made an enormous globe from fibreglass, silk and cotton. I can't fit it on the scanner but I can nearly crawl into it. I want to live in it. ...when it quits stinking!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The weather has turned to winter here. It is soggy, cold and wet! Every year it seems to get wetter than the year before. I haven't been posting very much lately because any spare or well time has been spent creating for the East Side Culture Crawl.

I had eye surgery a month ago now. I am growing used to the double distance vision and the marvelous close ups. I haven't felt well since the last blast of antibiotics but had no choice but to take them. Both have impacted my energy more than expected and I am going for a few new rounds of tests. I have really swollen lymph nodes and a lot of pain for some reason. This has happened to me before and I have a feeling it is my body flying into overcharge. "Lymph Reactivity" which is my system kicking into overdrive from assault.

Charles has contacted me! He has been sick with pneumonia which is very scary with his H.I.V. status. I am so glad I have found him again because he remains my much beloved practicum student who has traveled far!

Hillary and her sweetie Jim have found me a new connection for my European heat press that I got from Fariba. The part is actually available in Vancouver which will save me fortunes in shipping. Jim also discovered the large heat press hasn't got a ground which meant I could have shocked every one around me into the next building! He is fixing it.

I have moved the thirty projects into the living room and Tim is drowning under them but this has to happen. We are working together to get the larger pupaes ready for the show. The burn shed has made life much easier because i have been able to do silicone and fibreglass work out side. Fibreglass and cheesecloth are my new best friends.

Today I pulled apart fourty golden butterflies to rebuild and put into shadow boxes as part of the metamorphosis series. Last night I jabbed myself at least ten times with a barbed felting needle which helped create tiny cocoons that look more like large sperms right now! I would love to do a whole show for the microscope only! Tiny wee work. Will have to talk to Scott about how to do this.

The biggest job is maintaining focus because my imagination likes to dance all over.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Light Saber

Halloween is one of my favourite celebrations. It is fun and always inspiring.

I didn't dress up this year but was deluged with children from the Native Co-op up the street in full costume. They were excited and delighted with the energy on the street. More children at the door than I have seen in years. Older children than I have seen not worried about whether they were too cool to costume.

I dressed up my stairway with my latex mask collection, lights and leaves. Tim carved a version of Munch's "Scream" for our pumpkin and proceeded to scare every child half to death with his exuberance. Children kept streaming in past 9:30 p.m. This means our neighbourhood is becoming more trusting again!

Last year a group of adults grabbed a bus, assaulted the driver and burned it to the ground. I think that was a real turning point and we have all seemed to make a greater effort to be more aware.

I spoke with my oldest son in Winnipeg tonight. He was walking down the street and was light saber assaulted by a three foot high boy dressed in a Darth Vader costume. The child yelled three times. "I am your father Luke, I am your father!" This would have been funny considering that Dane is 6'6" tall. It was even funnier because he was talking to me on the phone when it happened. I had to remind him that he spent the first 12 years of his life as "Luke Skywalker" and the guy was truly his father. He thanked the kid for being his Dad! Awww!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Georgine Zeron left me her textile hoardings when she died. Tim and I went to pick them up and they have been sorted and scavanged by a stream of visitors in the studio. She would be thrilled.

Textile people are hoarders and hunters and gatherers by nature. Tiny pieces are tucked away to be used as inspiration or embellishments. Lengths are gathered and forgotten. Georgine was no different. Who else would have 40 sets of lacings and boxes of glues with shiny in them but an artist.

It took Katherine, her daughter, days to sort through all the stuff. She had to keep me away because I kept taking stuff from the garbage and putting it in the boxes. "Shiny" "Precciouss"
We still ended up with eleven boxes of cloth and supplies.

Tina helped me go through all of the boxes to sort into fabric type. She took two boxes. Hillary took two for her classes. The Public Dream Society have been invited to go through and see if they want anything for costumes for the Day of the Dead "Lost Souls" Parade this month. Students will benefit. I will benefit and the charity we are working on will benefit. The Christmas production of Sleeping Beauty in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast will get supplies for costumes.

Katherine now has two rooms empty in her house. She is going to rent them out to people who aren't textile people. I, obviously, can't live there. But I like the look of space. I am now going through my own cloth and supplies and handing duplicates over to others.

I touch Georgine's cloth and I get to remember her. I placed her favourite buttons in my collection and they nestled there with buttons that belonged to my Granny, my mom, my mother-in-law, my aunties and a number of dear lost friends. I have buttons from military uniforms from the first and second world wars and from tiny children's clothes. I should just string them all together into a curtain or something because I will never let them go!

Luckily for me I have nieces who love to collect. My step son Chris's spouse, Vashti, is an archaelogist. Tim's cousin Fi is an anthropologist. Someone will take all my hoardings when it is time!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Too Cute for Corners

Kholton and his new gap!


This fellow is my relative and he is way too cute for corners.

Meet Kholton!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tarte Tatin

My son Brendan and his mate Megan are going to cook me Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow.
My only job is to provide Tart Tatin, an old Quebec recipe for an upside down buttery caramel
apple pie. This something my mother's family have cooked for generations I think.

I don't really like Thanksgiving or other prescribed holidays. I often feel resentful and obligated. This attitude developed at a time I was overburdened with children and finances. I was working in the anti-poverty community as an activist and surrounded by genuine hunger that other people only thought about during prescribed holidays. Then they typically thought about their own luck and tossed a few stale groceries to the food bank. The radio and T.V. would take time to exploit the lonely and hungry among us for a few "poornographic shots" of less.

Canada votes for a new government on Tuesday. I hope each one of us takes time to think about poverty in the longer term and institute policies that really help poor people. Things like livable wages, affordable housing development, and supports for neighbourhoods effected long term by generational poverty and racism.

Once Canada had a more just society. We didn't think so much about charity but about what was really just and fair. (Reading John Ralston Saul and listening to Margaret Atwood talking about debt)

I would feel really grateful if people considered good social policies when they went out to vote on October 14.

After that I will tell you about all the stuff I have been doing with the studio and how my new eyes work. For now I have to nag everyone I know to go out and vote.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Naughty Peter has kept me inspired with amazing imagery. He sent me two series of images in the last few days and links that are really worth sharing. He is so generous and a gorgeous muse through time. One never knows what he will find that sets off the creativity rockets but it never fails. How pleasing that he takes time from his writing to do this for me.

I am in the process of healing both eyes and back. I am also gearing up for a few changes with my work. An amazing friend named Marie has offered to assist me with pulling together my work. She is a serious detail person and always competent. One of my gallery owners, the remarkable Celine from Numen Gallery, had a seriously inspiring chat with me about direction and research. Her ideas, her grasp of my work, energy and her own creative spirit are really good to be around. I have had to think about how to take people up on offers to help. Also about clearing other responsibilities to recognize that I do have energy limitations but that doesn't mean shutting down when that happens. I used to understand the value of delegation and support when I was doing social and community work.

The whole idea of collaboration excites me. Hillary Young and I have collaborated in past in the studio and while teaching. We have great energy together in a gig. Happily she is getting more teaching gigs and is now teaching at Capilano College. She prepares so carefully that it is always worth taking one of her courses. We have decided to do a show together and collaborate with some workshops. We share many skills but do very different work. We share a studio and she is always supportive and helpful. Her work is very beautiful and kicks off that zing in me to do what it is I do. She is even picking up my application and entry forms today.

Watching Abigail Doan and her Flotsam project in the Bowery has resulted in a few inspired and sleepless nights. I can't wait to see what her new winter project in Tuscany will look like. Having her take time to send support during this has been very meaningful.

Same with Arlee Barr who has skyrocketed in new directions and has reminded me of the importance of experimentation, documentation and journaling.

Taking down time for healing, research and re energizing are always worth it.
My sketchbooks are throwing sparks! Interesting to scribble away with a patch on my eye.
The cancer experience was a very inspiring time for me. The last few months have been the same. I never expected anything would happen to my eyes but learned that you don't stop being an artist if you lose your eyes, ears, or whatever. It still keeps on chugging along.

My Ocular Oncologist, Dr. Katherine Paton, said that she enjoys having artists as patients. She says they describe things from a very visual perspective and the description helps her to figure out what happens with the operations. There is a difference when an artist describes what is happening with colour, line and form. There were three artists having surgery the day I had mine.

Now I have to go peer at little things and decide where they fit on my colour scale. How cool is that!

Check out http://www.sciencemag.org/vis2008/show/

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Needles and Thread

I had my eye surgery yesterday and this morning I threaded a needle over white cloth with white thread in poor light! How wonderful is that!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Today is the Day

Today I get my new eyes. I have to be a tthe hospital at 6:30 wearing comfy clothing.
I am looking forward to seeing deep colour again. A little worried about seeing how everyone I know looks. The last few years have meant everyone has a lovely foggy soft complexion. Everyone looks so dewy soft now.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I got an e-mail this morning informing that people from one of my old high schools in Calgary have left a message and want to be contacted back. I actually froze in my chair.
What would I say to someone from that far back in my life?

I left the city more than thirty years ago and have only returned a few times. My goal as a child was to get the hell out of there and I did! Of course there were people I cared about but all but a very few also left. Some friends, like Karen, live within a few miles of me now. I checked once and discovered that sometimes people you don't remember find you and try to sell you things.

There are vivid childhood memories edited for my own purposes of course. Things are more or less tragic than they were. Smells, textures, colours are burnt into the sensory box. People are weirder , funnier or nicer than in real life. The sophisticated and cool ones were also awkward children then. They are very personal memories because there are no actual physical reminders to reinforce actual events.

Once I went back to my old house. I hid makeup in a fence my grandfather built. Lipstick and mascara were stored for use because I wasn't allowed to apply it at home and did so in the school washroom with many of the other innocent and bare-faced girls. Sometimes we would simply apply it in the cold at the bus stop. We also religiously washed those tarted up little faces before returning home. Years and years later the forgotten makeup was still there! Rusted old mascara and lipstick tubes that survived the homes many owners! There was also a heart scribbled in the fence. ALBERT LOVES PATTY. So there was some evidence I was there. That I had been kissed by a neighbour boy and that once I was decorated.

Who could it be? Perhaps an old sweetheart in life crisis or someone dying more intently than me? I didn't have any unclaimed children because I was actually a baby birth control advocate.
Did someone in my family leave anyone behind? Not that I heard of except for an old Aunt.

Once on checking the School Site there were some of the more unusual names that actually had children attending the school. A few stayed in the old neighbourhood that I wanted desperately to escape. Some married high school sweethearts and lived happily ever after. Some married high school sweethearts and had bitter divorces. I married someone from my city who also wanted to move far away. We didn't live happily ever after together but both have interesting lives. My next husband had to leave a town he loved and move far away because all the work dried up there. He arrived in Vancouver by fate and became mine.

These days it is hard enough to keep up with my immediate relatives. I have four children and they have spouses. I have one living estranged parent,brothers, their daughters and my husband's family. Together there are extended families in five continents.

I am reminded that one can never have enough friends. So maybe I'll phone in my secret code and find out who left me a mesage unless it costs 19.95 for a reminder to renew!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hunting and Gathering

Freeman's Alley 1 2008 Abigail Doan Urban Fiber Flotsam project with the Conflux Festival

I am so completely entranced by Abigail Doan's project Urban Fiber Flotsam.
It is so energetic and a remarkable travel journal through time, community and location and spins together flotsam( both cast off and botanical) and urban tales.

She uses photography, journaling, mapping and location to twine together all of this into vines.
Tiny, insignificant objects become meaningful and very moving when collected in such a physically rambling way. Sometimes the process reminds me more of choreography. Abigail , while using her body, becomes the beautiful dancer hunting and gathering through the Bowery.

Her projects in past have shown remarkable planning, imagination and process. They are ethereal in appearance and very grounded in reality. Her farm roots resonate through all of the work I have witnessed since I became aware of her a year or so ago.

Abigail is a mother of twins, the daughter of a spinner and a farmer and lives both in New York City and on an ancient farm in Tuscany with her husband Ludmil. She writes for a number of magazines including Inhabitat and is actively involved in positive ecological projects. She considers herself to be an"art farmer".

The blog is outstanding

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Turn A New Leaf

This is my front garden on East 5th Avenue in Vancouver, B.C.. It is 18 feet by 12 feet. I wasn't kidding when calling it a jungle! Vancouver is located in the West Coast Rain Forest.
Picture taken from my living room window. Japanese Maple, Rhododendron, Bamboo, Kinikanic, and Day Lily.

My garden is about to turn to it's fall foliage. The apples are so abundant this year that I am going to have a hard time finding enough jars to make chutney and sauce with. They are delicious!

Dr. Marilyn McDonald lived in this little cottage before me and planted the heritage apple trees and the prolific garden. I have let it grow into a jungle in the front and a food producing weedy mess in the back.

I couldn't keep up with the heritage strawberry rhubarb this year. I have dragged that plant around with me for four houses. It originally came from Camrose, Alberta and some was sent back to my Aunt's ranch in the Foothills of Alberta. It is an naturally sweet and strawberry flavoured rhubarb that was really popular with the early settlers there. The Saskatoon bush I have in the yard was a Mother's Day present when Bren was ten. I think because it is a high mountain or prairie plant it has grown to a bush about 10 feet tall. I have never seen a wild one this tall. The birds don't eat them because Marie's ancient cherry tree seems ripen at the same time and they gorge on that. My blackberries were left alone this year and they have produced tons of fruit for a little yard. Somethin' ate my garlic. It disappeared altogether. Three ratty tomatoes survived and I think I will give up on them next year. Tons of peas and beans. The mesclun fed us for months. I did a late plant on kale and winter veggies and I hope they make it. The fall is really hot here this year.

I love fall. It is my New Year! I just feel so excited about the future in the fall and full of plans and energy. I'm not a great summer person. Definitely more Nordic. I burn and hate being all sweaty. I can't see when in the sun. I'm allergic to mosquitoes and they were everywhere this year. I like brisk and cold. I like fog. I love falling leaves and all the smells of fall. I love all the squashes and fruit. The birds getting ready to leave makes me feel like following them. Nothing makes me happier than layers of colourful fall clothing.
Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Scary Fabrication

The most extreme and scariest fabrication I have seen in a long time is that Sarah Palin!
Most of us are hockey moms in Canada and we just don't buy what she has to sell.

If these people had their way we would all have pregnant fifteen year old daughters and beer swillin' son in laws. My Great Granny would be appalled. Birth control was illegal in many places less than thirty years ago. Woman couldn't take part in many aspects of life. Gay friends were thrown in jail and depressed women were given shock treatment and lobotomies. Two friends nearly died as sixteen years olds from the effects of back street "doctors". I couldn't get a bank loan without my husband , father or baby brother's signature and I made more money than all of them! I even had to fight to breast feed my own child!

Feminists fought Anita Bryant if I remember right. She was also selling extreme and hardline positions that hurt women. She also used the woman card to hand out some pretty extreme internalized oppression.

I hope people remember that we also have an election in Canada in a few short weeks. We have our own Sarahs to educate and send away. We also have amazing women like Libby Davies to get out and support.

Soft and Fluffy?

Over Breeding Stepanie Metz Felted Sculpture
Litter Stephanie Metz Felted Sculpture

Lap dog Stepanie Metz felted sculpture

Mutant Chicken Stephanie Metz Felted sculpture.

Atavist Stephanie Metz Felted Sculpture

Stephanie Metz has managed to use felted objects to tell stories about concerns like genetic modification of livestock. Her mastery of this craft is remarkable and she creates objects that are haunting and and sometimes rather horrifying. I relate to them strongly because of my own body interaction with genetic modification and experimental medical interference.

I ran into the work of Metz while reading the book "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood.
Clearly Metz, like Atwood, was inspired by a similar apprehension of where an unbridled corporate medical curiosity has taken us. Her work "The Atavist" shows a chicken embryo with "alligator teeth" and her headless lamb " Over breeding" belong in a medical cabinet of curiosity.
So much felting has fallen into such a maudlin use. Often it is poorly and impatiently done.
One could drown in the cutesier kitties and puppies that have been produced.
Felting is a delightful medium to use. It becomes a full body experience and is one of the more sensual of textile arts.
Metz has inspired me to play with it again.
Further imagery at www.artbysteph.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fear of Falling photograph Emma Critchley and Sophie Lewis
Fear of Falling photograph Sophie Lewis and Emma Critchley

Fear of Falling photograph Emma Critchley and Sophie Lewis

The Fear Of Falling

There is an ethereal and beautiful exhibition of photographs by Emma Critchley and Sophie Lewis being shown at Stunt Vaults on Joiner Street in London near the London Bridge Station.

They have photographed the woman's clothing changes completely underwater. This creates the moodiest, ethereal and historical imagery. Delicious! Worth climbing on the plane for.

Michelle Chauncey, my neice , collects this kind of costume and photographs wild flowers. She let me know about this show.

See the work at http://www.thefearoffalling.com/ The web site is gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Burnin' Hot

I am up. I made my own food today and got some laundry in. I only used one pain killer.

So I am burnin' new soft sculptures. Joseph Dagsaan made me the patterns and they have worked out perfectly. Each size has eight components and will stitch together easily afer the burning is finished. He reinforced the patterns so they will survive my carelessness. I am going to push it as far as possible before total disintegration. The fabric is reacting beautifully and it doesn't seem to be a straight poly as the labeling said. So now for a series of experiments to see if the cloth burns differently when it is made of twist or wrapped threads, if it is twill or plain weaved and different fibre combinations. Certainly some of the plainest and uninspiring fabrics turn into the most beautiful when tortured under my toys.

Sampling makes me so happy. It is sometimes the research and not the object that is the end result for me. Experimenting kicks my creative juices into overtime.

I am thinking about support structures and how to make them larger. Will have to pursue a degree in micro-biology and engineering to accomplish what I want to do with my work.

Hilary Young is teaching a course with Maiwa soon for those interested in playing with extreme textiles. She is a very good teacher and a studio mate. Textile trained in Scotland.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hugging Things

I went into the studio today for the first time in forever and just sat and gestated. Just the air and the mess made me happy and revived. I may be behind on some of my projects because of my health but I am happy with the direction and the work.

Tina and Vivian were both in and it sounds like everyone is having one struggle or another. It also sounds like amazing work is being done despite all this funny moon placement stuff.

I ended up dragging back supplies after realizing there really were a few things being accomplished. I can sit in my arm chair or back porch now and work away if the painkillers are taken on time.

I have had a hard time pulling together a form for full body cocoons. Someone left a huge cylindrical form made of styro at my door and Vivian gave me some amazing pieces of silver and tawny leather scraps from her last big movie gig. Problem solved. Both are perfect for the cocoons. Even found some new cylinders for my mask.

Hilary has done some amazing sampling. I couldn't figure out how some of it was done so there are new mysteries to learn. I teach her ...she teaches me. She is so very tidy though (in comparison to slobbo here) Her palette of verdigris, charcoal, copper and silver are completely delicious.

Tomorrow I attend the ceremony to celebrate Georgine Zeron's life. I was lucky enough to enjoy her , her grand daughter, her daughter, her mother and her sister as my friends. She was one of my appropriated mothers. Georgine was fiercely protective of me. She also used to cook an incredible toffee apple pie! I will miss her forever. Her ashes will be scattered in the Cadomen Pass in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta where she was born. They are saving me some of her cloth. I will probably not wash it, sew it into a doll and just hug it when I miss her.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ready To Go!

All of the preliminaries are done for my eye surgery! I have given vials of blood, been weighed and measured, had blood pressures and EEG's, eyeball curvature measurements and the works.
All indicate I am healthy enough to go through the procedure.So my dear Doc upped the date and I have it all done on September 23 at the crack of dawn! She thinks I will get away with only having one done until we find out how it goes.

I got into a little trouble at the clinic today. My medical curiosity overcame and I pulled the model eyeball of the shelf to poke and prod and see the structure of the eye. It was the size of a softball and needed to be inspected from all angles. I pulled it apart and was thrilled to see the puzzle of the human eye. I was carefully putting it all back together when the eye sprung from my hand, fell to the floor and shattered. Not until it had hit a steel surface and the chair buzzer thingy! I let out a squeal and medical personnel came flying from all directions. The Doctor, looking like a cool version of Katherine Hepburn, looked at me and said,"No touching Doctor's things!" Her staff laughed. I shrivelled until she came in again and gave the full eyeball display and surgery explanation.

The surgery will be like getting a new silicone breast. A cut is made in the eye, the lens has a small suction device inserted until all of the viscous material is removed and a new eye falsie is implanted. The lens is about the size of a small grape and has little tendons and supports that hold it. I will not lose my green eyes which have got me much attention through the years.
I go home that day and am seen the next and one week following and then three weeks following that. I am Canadian so the cost is extremely low. Medicare covers most of the cost and our extended medical plan should cover the rest.

Very tech and modern. I will learn a cyborg wink!

I came home and taught Ryan, my young Death Metal cousin how to do the invisible stitch to repair his favourite "Corpse" t-shirt. He has talent with a needle and thread. Tomorrow he gets to learn how to use the serger.

I can't wait! Back is starting to repair but the Doc wants cancer tests done as a precaution. I think I might not go. It feels like a slipped disk to me! She says I look awful. I never look very good while I have lying down for a week. Does anyone? I am pretty sure I am fine!

I wonder if we will find little biological organisms to eat up the cataracts and cancer in the future. Octavia Butler wrote a book called Lilith's Brood. It was one of my favourites when i was healing. It describes a world with biological healing. I hope our understanding of the botanical and biological become a focus for healing in the future. I would love to be wrapped in a being or plant until repaired.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Up and At Em

Back on my feet again with the help of some new exercises, anti-inflammatory, yoga and Tim.
A bit shaky but getting in the car and going to pick up some photo's at Ms. Hatfull's.

Christine Basque was caught in the ZOOM mess and has missed her trip to Italy. I was expecting some great photos and cloth but not to happen. She ended up in an airport for hours and was told she could hit destination if she booked through /Sweden etc. totally a twenty eight hour trip or something God Awful. I am so glad I didn't go! The trip sounded too good to be true and ended up being a nightmare. Poor Christine!

Going into the studio for minutes and am setting up the structure for some silicone puppets and dolls.

Eye surgery will be on track and the pre-surgery appointment is tomorrow. The most amazing thing is that you can see fine veil cataracts when they shine the light in your eyes and it looks like a translucent lace viewed through river ice or crystalline wax... Kinda Titanic remnant or something.

The human body is so beautiful. The processes of the body are so extraordinary. In sickness or in health!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008


Slipped disk! Herniated disk! Yowl. Did it while rolling over in bed. Not even having fun.
Three days flat! Today walking a little. Even sat for a minute at the computer.

Good news is they upped my surgery days to the end of September again. Go sit (if I can?) and have blood tests and such on Wednesday.

Pain killers work for creative thoughts. Didn't I know something about this in the sixties and seventies?Have help and my sound man has arrived with an assistant! He will build my installation cages and string my lights and isn't freaked out at all by me laying there growling and firing instructions.

Determined to be up working again in days.

The house is bustin' at the seams. Not so much fun this time. Tryin my best not to get cranky but could be impossible.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Horrid Hats

Structural hat by Lajla Nuhic
Hat and Scarf by Lajla Nuhic

Cotton and silk hat by Lajla Nuhic

I have managed to crochet a few little horrid hats. Daniel loved his and looks hilarious. He learned how to unzip velcro so he is very busy getting naked. He translated the skill into diaper velcro and is happier than ever. His other hobby seems to be taking his new hat and either dragging it over his face or firing it across the room. Daniel is a very talented eight month old baby boy and his mother has promised pictures.

We learn new skills after practising them. Sometimes we practise for a long time before we are able to accomplish them. Threading needles is like that, learning about colour beyond the instinctual, running complex machines and manipulating fabric. We learn and then layer skills and accomplishments.

The Japanese honour people with high levels of artistic and textile craft skills as "Treasures". "National Treasures" have spent many years learning and accomplishing skills that are then taught and passed down. Shibori artists, indigo dyers, stencil makers are all honoured for spending years doing what they do.

Sometimes our ability to do part of what we do is impaired and we have to learn to do tasks in a different way. It is possible to learn things again and to master them. I am using this time to learn how to do somethings all over again and am enjoying it.

I find http://www.bruceelkin.com/ a helpful set of readings for me. I was lucky enough to have Bruce as a friend and a teacher years ago. The wisdom he imparts is simple enough. Masters always make things look simple. I appreciate how accessible his writing is and love the quotes. I haven't taken any of his courses yet but plan to.

This week I am going to try, like Daniel, to accomplish a task like velcro ripping!
For delicious hats and bags check out www.lajla.ca