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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dream Containers

Chrysalids Patricia Chauncey
Family Patricia Chauncey

Burnt Globes Patricia Chauncey

Moon Snail Remains Patricia Chauncey

Small Burnt Globes Patricia Chauncey

Dreams are so vivid for me during snowfall. I curl up and sleep really soundly for hours and dream about things that are amazing to me.

I got up early this morning and padded around long enough to say good-bye to Tim and have some power porridge. I felt cold and decided to climb back into my cozy nest and try to warm up.

Konk....I was out like a light until 11:00. In full hibernation!

My reward for this sloth was a seires of dreams that will now move to my work this week!

I dreamt that the radiation pin that is stuck in my chest wall in real life had become dislodged enough for me to pull it out of my body. I could feel both ends of it and pushed the sharp end through the skin. The pin looked like a large darning needle that was covered in cellular material. I knew it was the last of my cancer!

I was so upset. I really wanted to have people witness the injustice and violation that the medical accident had caused me and to have proof of the pain I had lived with since the accident. I was showing everyone and felt I needed to go home.

Home at the end of a path to a forested acerage. There were post boxes near the entrance of the roadway. A young man was standing there looking into a collection of fish bowls containing plain dirt and insects. He was intense but wanted to share the science of it.

The young man turned out to be the young brother of my former lover John. I have not seen him in many years. I was stunned by his beauty and appeal to me but was more interested in the jars.

The young man pulled me to the jars and showed me what was happening in each one. He was affectionate and soft. I responded to his affection and looked carefully into the bottles.

The first bottle held small beetle insects that were crawling slowly on the ground. They shot
a waxy material from their mouths and made a series of branch objects. They worked together. Then a webby substance shot from their abdomens that looked like dandelion fluff. It was wrapped around the foundations to form little white and dandelion fluffy tiny trees. Together they moved the trees to the edges of the glass. climbed them and scurried out of the glass jar.

The second jar had more worm or caterpiller insects. They started digging little holes everywhere and I couldn't figure out if they formed a pattern or if they were just burrowing.
They worm creatures each climbed into a hole and shot something sticky from it's end to create a cap over the holes. The insects glowed in the dark in the holes and pulsed at different intensity. The caps made them look like little signal lights.

The third jar was far more frenetic. Long legged ant insects were scurrying everywhere. They formed into platoon like formations and marched head long into one another. They turned and did it again and again and it became clear that they were trailing a spider webby material from their bodies. This was making the foundation of a cloth. Each one took a place on the cloth and the new substance shot out of their mouths. It formed pointed ends on two ends top and bottom and the insect was covered. The foundation quivered and stood up. Each insect was hanging by a little attachment and was left quivering and blowing in the wind. The mass formed a cloth that looked beaded by the tiny leaf shaped cocoons.

I felt breathless and looked at the young man who gazed at me with wonder. I felt that distance was needed and I took one of the young women ,who was an onlooker, and placed her beside him. I knew I didn't want him but needed him to feel cared for because he had shown me something wonderful.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Brilliant Lights

Yesterday I taught my Extreme Textiles course at Capilano College with the help of the talented Ms. Hilary Young. I have taught this a number of times to the Textile Arts students. Never has it been such a wonderful day.

The students keep getting more talented every year and the caliber of both their work and capacity is really exciting.

There were a number of students who invented new burning techniques on the spot. One burned an industrial felt meant to wrap bicycles and the result was amazing. The felt was a gray blend and about 1/4 of an inch thick. It came out looking like carved stone or very encrusted concrete. Some of it looked like a filigreed metal with salt spray on it. The same student played with burning leather. It looked gorgeous but really smelled like ancient roasts burning on a fire.
I suggested that we try branding techniques. Another student tried a burn with the hot gun and used a polyester cotton velvet with existing devored like patterns. It turned into instant scale like patterns and the scales faced different directions. Completely delicious!

I did my regular health and safety rant and added a little about environmental concerns. They all listened carefully and hooded up. I had to do two sessions of hands on practical.

This year was much more organized. Hilary and I worked very well together and the number of samples and books was reduced from 6 trunks to two. Perhaps just a little too much. I made new samplers for each process with notes attached to the back and the skills were broken down to the point where the information was able to be relayed in a fun and logical way. Hilary brought technology and we hopped from the "in hand" to the "on screen" in a way that kept things animated.

The stations were also set up to physically move the students through a logical sequence of skills and brought them from the most fundamental burning of paper to the most complex layering of three dimensional objects.

Nothing is more satisfying to me than a group of promising textile artists digging through my samples and experiments. How lovely to see little feet showing while the artist is buried in cloth!

Students have agreed to come to the Guild to present and more than two students want to work with me as practicum students.

The Icing on the Cake was that two of the students were people whose mothers I had worked with in my activist life. I had met these young women as children. They stood with me at demos and picket lines as little girls and now both work with their textiles in a political way. Watch in future for the work of Maddy Stannard and Katy Kilgour!

How great is that!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Hanging Nightgown Lilo Raymond photograph

Christine Hatfull has spent the last few days pulling together some photographs of a few of my textiles. I gave her a box of stuff to play with and she has taken every advantage.

Today she showed me photographs of some of the more translucent textiles that have been thrown in the air in front of her huge 10 foot windows and left to float to the floor. Some of them look like jelly fish or spiders floating on clouds. Some are like octopus left swimming in the air.
All tentacles without bodies.

One of my skins has literally crawled out of the camera and slithered right in my face.

Some have just turned into ethereal beings left in the wrong space and time to make me lonely for what it is they once were without recognizing what that is.

Tomorrow I'll be able to post some of them.

She also showed me the book "Revealing Light" given to her by the photographer Lilo Raymond.
I have seen some of Lilo Raymonds work before. She has the most delicate sensibility when it comes to thinking about textiles and capturing the inner light when it comes to translucency.

Capturing translucency is one of the hardest things to do. It ends up looking like a smoky blur if the photographer doesn't feel it or it comes out brittle and plastic looking. It really is a matter of capturing the light creature.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I spent the day yesterday being entertained by Fariba in the studio and stitching and stitching on a dissolvable stabilizer.

I was usung Ultra Solvy and it was amazing. The stitching was very dense and the threads were thin polyesther which would normally cut the stabilizer to pieces and would wrinkle and buckle the stabilizer and the fabric. Not this stuff! I wasn't even using a hoop and was going like mad in every direction and not even a wrinkle. Incredible.

I picked up this stuff in Oregon last summer at the Jo-anne's in New Port for half price and forgot about it. It felt about twice as heavy as the stuff I normally use.

All I can say is that this is the most amazing stuff I have ever stitched with. It held three layers of stitching and didn't budge at all. It was easy to manipulate and the threads didn't break. It did require changing the leather vinyl needle once for a day's stitching. It actually allowed easier movement than a hoop would have. I drew on the Ultra Solvy with a kid's washable Laurentian felt pen and there was no breakdown which means the drawn guidelines will wash out easily.

Applique worked well when the extra cloth was sandwiched between two layers and worked on top.

No doubt my allowance will be spent on Ultra Solvy if the stock market goes back up!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Poor Froggy

Dissected Knitted and felted Frog stolen image from Emily Stoneking's Etsy file. All sold out!

Naughty Peter sent me an image of the most ...well...disgusting and delightful knitted toy I have ever seen this morning.

I happen to think most textile artists are a little bent. We are messy hoarders who have paint and dye spotched clothing. Our hands are often strange colours of green. We are always dangling threads off somewhere and we are constantly talking about technique to those within ear shot.
Many of us spend time looking at strange and rotting things just to study the object for inspiration.

This poor froggy hits a new low! Emily Stoneking even made it so it can be detached from the display board for a cuddle. Yuck!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mendings and Lizard Skin.

Lizards of New York Photo Brendan Hurley 2006

Well I am finally on the mend. I can now breathe without assistance and my medication is working. It has been a hellish two weeks.

I met with Fariba in the studio today and as always had the most inspiring time. She was a mad woman with the heat press and dye bottles. She splashed and spluttered and made me laugh all day. I grabbed every leftover dye sheet she dropped behind and started texturing it with soft LERA pencils. Tomorrow I will silkscreen them with lizard scale patterns and sew them up.

We experimented with transfer dye sheets, heat and the silk paper I made before the holidays.

I mostly used the leftover cover papers and they ended up being the most copper verdi-gris patinaed things you have ever seen. I pressed a few metallics into the lick and will sew them with baltic blues and neon greens tomorrow. I think some palette experiments are in order.

Must be the over the top influence of Arlee Barr.

I met with Katherine McManus last night for supper and we came up with our strategy as VGFA to include a larger membership. We met with the Britannia Arts and Culture Committee and had a very productive meeting regarding the VGFA outreach possibilities. Haruko Okana has suggested a meeting to pull together some plans and look at some shared programs and other possibilities.

I feel like I am back in the saddle. I need to be because I have a contract for twenty or more new small works. The smaller works are selling at Numen. They are fun to make and don't bore me at all. It is rather like laying a collection of small eggs.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bad to Worse


Sympathy required but no visits. Think thyphoid Mary!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Flu Art

Portrait of Patricia with the Flu. She needs pity and chicken soup!

This flu isn't going away. I spent last night and today in bed shaking like a leaf.
Tim was great until about one o'clock and he too bit the dust. We make a very ugly couple and we are both known for being ill-mannered when contagious. At least we are warm!

I just layed there moaning and wondering if anyone has done art using old flu kleenex.

I know the critics would say "it is snot art!"

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Putting Up Walls

Tim and I spent time in the studio yesterday restructuring the space. We moved everything around and rethought how it will work as a space for me to do larger art .

This started with us packing up the most obvious stuff and moving walls to create a small gallery and lounge area. More like an area to put my stuff up and a little cozy place to stitch by hand. We put up a pony wall and created a visual barrier between the new area and the working space. We also designed it to block the blasting sunlight from the windows.

The library has been reconfigured and the shelves Jay was using have been moved into the working area. The drapes have been taken off all of the shelves and now everything is visible.
My large shelf that holds my glues, heat guns, buttons, beads and tools has been moved to help create the barrier between the gallery and work areas. The sewing area has been moved away from the work tables and a larger table can serve for printing and be moved around the space. The heat presses will work better near the windows and anything fumey can go there.

I can now see what needs to go. I'll bring some of it up to Cap College for the students. I have a guest teach later this month and luckily samples and slides fell out all over the place. I will put them into process books for that gig. There is always one amazing student that comes out of those gigs and I get to drag at least one new person to the VGFA.

I love my studio again and can't wait for Monday. I really think the projects are exciting and have four on the go.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

So Excited!

Tonight is my first Vancouver Guild of Fabric Arts meeting of the year and Kirsten Chursinoff is speaking. She is definately one of my favourite people and embroiderers. Her talk will be held at the Aberthau Community Centre in Vancouver at 7:00.

Kirsten has been working with very detailed embroidery for a number of years. She is one of those people who takes simple materials and turns them into something awesome. Everything she touches is like that. She combines skill and technique with a natural talent to create beauty.

Kirsten and I went to Capilano College together and I got to witness lots of her work from tiny sketches to yardages of fabric. Her work is always quite exceptional in terms of delicacy and sensitivity. She has an ability to see colour like few people do. Her presentation is thoughtful and her themes are interesting and riveting.

Kirsten is now writing regularily for magazines like Quilters Art.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Intentional Resolutions

The New Year always reminds me that there is promise and hope. Even my most pessimistic friends spend a little time contemplating the future with optomism regarding their own efforts.

This year I have decided to set resolutions regarding creative intentions. The work I hope to do will be done with more thought, more planning and more involvement with others. This will involve thinking more carefully about workspace, materials, purpose and impact.

I started yesterday by considering what was accomplished creatively last year. I started my second year in the William Clark Studios, had a few shows, spent time designing new display units and invented another process. Much more cohesive work was produced in series. The Vancouver Guild of Fabric Art became a focus where I actively drafted younger and more dynamic members and asked hard questions of other members regarding our purpose and focus. The Material Witness Blog was started with Brendan's help. It became a regular place for me to record some of my thoughts. A media interview or two was done despite my fear of stepping there again. Old connections were rekindled and new ones ignited.

Last year allowed me to get braver with technology. I learned more about the machines and chemicals used. Science and art were researched using the libraries and the internet. Taking advantage of thousands of ideas proved fruitful for me.

I connected with amazing and inspiring people like Bruce Elkin, Abigail Doan, Arlee Barr, Hilary Young, Jay Rudolph, Jeina Morosoff, Madeleine Woods, Celine Rumalean and Lyn Fabio. I reconnected with Kyd Campbell, Peter Tupper, Lilias Ann Cameron, Peri Best and Karen Mackenzie-Brydon. I was also allowed to witness the extraordinary development of my sons Brendan Hurley and Dane Goulet and neice Brie Chauncey and cousin Ryan Batten doing art and music.

I traveled and viewed art and history. I spent time in Oregon at the sea side filling my senses with the nurture it provides. Toronto opened up for me and the Textile Museum and the ROM became a new stomping ground. I went back for my fourth trip to New York City and felt at home enough to navigate around. I returned to Ireland and followed family paths through England. The imaginary Manor Houses and textile mills became real for me near York and in Haworth. I stood on land and touched stones that my family had touched in the 1100's and touched objects made by their hands. Manchester was the perfect place for me. Morecambe, Haworth, Rickmansworth, St. Albans and Romsey all became places to visit family. London was perfect in May. Everything from the Queen's swans to the V&A. Taking trains instead of planes was the best way to see France. Paris just became my new home. I have never felt more comfortable anywhere. The rest of the trip was cancelled so I could stay longer.

Last year will be hard to beat but with the lessons and intention will fuel me for the coming year.
Babies were born and old friends died reminding me that this circle can never be taken for granted.

My resolution for this year is to live and work in a more intentional way.