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, April 23, 2008


Lyn Fabio was deported from Russia and had a harrowing experience leaving the country. She is now safely back in the Yukon. The Canadian Government intervened because she was in Russia on a Canadian Government Art Project.

She says she is existing on adrenalin, very glad to see the dusty mucky ground of Whitehorse and has lots of stories to tell about her trip to Siberia.

The reindeer gut didn't work very well for the sculpture the students were trying. Everyone had fun working with other textile techniques and sewing.

I am just glad she is home safe. I can't wait to hear her stories..

It is snowing in Moscow!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Butterfly Poems

I spent some of the time I spent healing from cancer writing poems about butterfly and moth metamorposis. 48 poems. I lost all of them when the computer crashed. My fault for knowing I had to do back-ups but being to lazy to do it. My friend Jan is correct when he says that there is always a new idea or a new poem around the corner for truly creative people. "It's just one idea, there are thousands waiting to come out. It is endless!"

I dreamt of butterflies made from cut paper. Thousands of them hung from thin threads and hanging down from the ceiling. Each butterfly had one word of a story written on it. The paper was common like scraps of old phone books and newspapers. The words were written and large enough to be visible but not coherent. They were stiffened by gluing layers of other paper and the words were written in black ink. I kept looking up at them and realized they were a story about me that could be put together and read in many ways. The breeze from the sea made them flutter.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gypsy Curse

The Seven Sutherland Sisters from P.T. Barnum Sideshow
I did my worst Gypsy Curse on my sweet's boss today. She is shunning him until he finished his notice period. She hasn't even mentioned his resignation or discussed it with him. So I cursed her.

She is a yuppie triathlete who drives a 4X4 and was expecting to run this weekend and I fantasized throwing ice water on her. Now it is snowing great gobs and huge flakes of snow. This, according to the weather woman, will continue until Sunday. Not a bucket of cold water but clouds and dumps of it. Not just on her head but on my scraggling little garden.

Vancouver never has snow in April so I know I am responsible. Curses always backfire if used without thinking and proper planning. Sometimes curses ricochet.

I decided to interfere with the birdy nests by leaving cotton scraps for them and lots of thread and yarn. I will try to track the nests by watching where they fly and try to document it.

At least my hair is getting long. My new creative project seems to be growing it and seeing how long it will take to get to my bum.

Getting On With Things

Antique Singer treadle sewing machine or child's rocking toy.

Tim and I are in the process of making some fairly large changes in our life together. He is leaving a job that he has really loved for the past 14 years. He has nursed me through cancer and accepted the responsibility for much of my half of our life together for a long time now.
He is really tired and wants to make a change. I wonder what life will be like cut away from financial security. Not that we aren't fine.

Change is hard to watch because it isn't easy and because we want to protect people we love from the pain of it. But change comes whether we want it or not.

Our youngest child qualified for his Master's degree this week. He didn't just qualify. He did exceptionally well. Now he is grown and fully prepared for his life. He has a partner who loves and supports him. He does the same for her.

Yesterday, youngest son and partner were walking in the back alley and found a treadle from an antique Singer sewing machine. It is identical to my grandmother's sewing machine. I spent many hours walking the thing up and down as a child and even sat on it for a little ride. It was the best rocking chair ever. I think I will use it for the movement in a kinetic sculpture. Much more exciting and interactive than electic or gas powered movement.

Today I will design for large format patterns. I have a few days left using a large format printer and I want to try pattern making for my body bags now that the materials are sorted out.

I got a cheque from one of my galleries. I love making money from my art. Enough to go make more.

No word from Lyn or Norman yet. I feel like I need to do more.

The Victorian underwear was a smash hit and will be displayed on my niece this weekend.
She promises lots of pictures. They really looked lovely when all together. I still can't believe how much hand stitching was required or how big the bottom on the authentic bloomers really was. Such an extreme of feminine form. So comfortable without the corset. She, of course, is wearing the corset and is grateful for the extra layers because the Quilchena is cold this weekend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I talked with Lyn Fabio's partner Norman yesterday and he confirmed that the e-mail I got from her was legitimate.

They are now working with the Canadian Embassy to get her out. It is expected that she will be allowed to cross the Russian Border on the weekend if everything goes well.

Lyn says that she had so many good experiences in Russia before this happened. She is so disappointed because the experience of not being able to come home will wipe out the good feelings she had about her Russian Craft journey.

I just want her home safe in her Canadian Arctic home! Send good wishes!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Prisoner of Craft.

Lyn Fabio contacted me this morning by e-mail and she is trapped in Russia. They won't let her out!

She was invited by the Russian Government in Siberia to teach Gut Craft. She prepared for months for the journey and the classes . She also sourced materials that would be useful for her students. That included researching different common wild animal guts in her own living room.

While in Russia. the travel VISA , which was set up by her hosts, expired. She was turned back at the border and missed her plane home. She also lost the right to leave Russia.
No one will cover her flight now and her new flight home will cost $5,000 if she can't leave by Saturday. The Canadian Government and the Russian Government are communicating.

Lyn says she is in a gorgeous apartment but she can't leave or she might be thrown in jail because she is now illegally in Russia.

I am so worried about her. She had a fairly extensive surgery only a few months ago.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Best bloomers ever! Gone!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Bloomers Complete. Crinoline cover complete. Crinoline in last legs. Patricia done!

3 Hours?

Who was I kidding?

3 Hours flew by and 5 hours disappeared. 10 hours later I just have to stop!

Crinoline cover completed. Crinoline almost. Bloomers cut out.

Who knew this project would mean basting by hand to the moon and back? How about hand gathering? 6 broken needles. Bruised tail bone? Developing a whiny and annoying personality?

Who knew?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Little Dance

Drawing of a crinoline from the 1890's
The weather is just beautiful today. Sun everywhere and the overwhelming stench of cherry blossoms and bulby flowers. The sun invaded every corner of my studio. I just couldn't hide from it or even try to be gloomy.

Tim came from work and dragged me out for lunch and threw me into the car and dragged me in the door of William Street. So I worked for hours on the crinoline and figured out how to sew it with less pain. It is simply a matter of draping the yards of crinoline over my shoulder and feeding it through. The pattern is now modified to my liking and the cover will stay flat and well behaved over the crinoline. The ruffles are now becoming a matter of habit. I found my large cutting board and it works just fine. The hand stitching became a real pleasure as things progressed and give the crinoline cover a much more authentic finish than the pattern suggested. The pattern has almost been thrown away and is being used more like a sketch.

I saw a crinoline in a vintage store this weekend and have copied the way the crinoline net was covered at the hems. Thin bindings will really make it strong and easier to sew. I made them from the eyelet yardage used for the crinoline cover.

So tonight's venture into hand stitching attaches my needle stitched edging and finishes the crinoline cover. The crinoline will be finished in about two hours tomorrow and the bloomers should take another three hours. I will be able to ship by Saturday I hope.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Eyelet and Crinoline

I have mostly sewn a petticoat and crinoline now. The bloomers are almost cut out and I have figured out how to simplify the patterns to make more sense to this poor chemo atrophied brain.
It appears that I have lost the ability to make sense of patterns and the only logic for me is to invent as things go along.

There are things that I lost with chemo. Depth perception is different, decision making, emotional processing and endurance. I lost the ability to communicate very well. Talking in full and meaningful sentences was really hard for awhile and I could barely write a sentence.
Thankfully some good friends and paid helpers offered help during this time. A few friends were patient enough to read to me or explain what I wasn't processing.

My ability to spell and navigate through decent grammar is still not great. I can barely do a single task let alone be the super multi-tasker I was in past. I was never a math genius but now I am completely hopeless which isn't helped by the panic that overwhelms me when placed in situations requiring logic.

Hopefully the crinoline will look okay and the bloomers will be adjustable enough to fit. Michelle deserves to look nice and not worry about her costume.

I wonder if for most people, the losses coming from breast cancer are really not about losing breasts and more about everything else that happens. The scariest ones for me came from losing friends and abilities. My experience was different from many of my friends. They got a little breast cancer, had it diagnosed and went through a few treatments. I am not denying how scary their experience was. Mine has just lasted for so many years. I am not always grateful for my life
and that makes me feel guilty. This is the week I go back for cancer tests. I am not feeling very well and haven't for awhile. So I move into pain and panic mode once again. I'd like to kick something but my limbs are too painful.

Sewing bloomers has once again helped move some of the rebel creative juices. They always come when there is something else to do. There is a plan for when these things get finished and I am excited. More and lots and better constructed.

And I am going into a study for people with chemo brain. They are finally recognizing it is real.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What It Looks Like

Cherry Blossoms in Oppenheimer Park photo Christine Hatfull
Inspiring more of this!
heat transfer dyed, shiboried, burnt, hand painted, hand and machine stitched and embellished. Patricia Chauncey photo Christine Hatfull

By the way, my neighbourhood looks like this right now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Crow Murder

Got it! Photo Christine Hatfull
A Little More Effort Photgraph Christine Hatfull

New Ploy Photograph Christine Hatfull

Figuring It Out Christine Hatfull

Every evening before dusk there is a huge murder of crows that fly from everywhere in Vancouver to get to a community of rookeries near our Central Park in Burnaby.
The clouds darken at first with a few little silohuettes of them and grow into a vast flock that
continues for a long time. They all travel in the same direction.

One evening Tim and I parked the car and waited for a friend near the B.C. Tel building in Burnaby and the tree next to us started to fill up with crows. We waited and soon all the other trees had branches weighted down with them. The noise was deafening and the presense became intimidating.

We call crows ravens in this part of the country. They are larger than crows I have seen any where else and they are smarter and more aggressive. They have fallen out of balance and have an expanding population that has decimated our wild song bird population.

I once watched a crow taking a lid off my garbage can and taking out what it wanted. I watched another crow find a plastic bag , fill it with tasty morsels and fly away carrying the bag. It is not uncommon to see them dropping shellfish from high in the air to smash open on the ground.

My favourite tiny song birds are ruby throated cisks. Beautiful tiny, yellow wild finch like birds
that fly from my Aunt's garden in the prairies to mine on the Coast. Lately they have nested in the ivy that covers my little cottage. Tiny nests with tiny babies. When I was on chemotherapy I was enjoying the sun through my nausea on my back deck. I had a cane in my hand to help me with my balance. A little flock of them flew around my yard and one landed on my cane and just looked at me for more than a minute. I felt then that I knew I would live and that I was protected.

Last year the little yellow pink throated birds made a nest under my dining room window in the ivy. I could see it. They weren't really aware of me when I watched them.

The babies were just about ready to fly and the crows started coming and checking out the nests. They were like patient farmers just waiting for ripeness. First they grabbed the starlings because the chicks were very plump. Later they hunted the baby robins. They hunted like cats and worked in pairs chasing the little birds from one part of the eves to the other on my neighbour's house. It seemed like they were laughing when they cawed. I tried to chase them away with garden hoses and rocks but they were persistent.

I worried about my little birds and looked out the window on a sunny morning just in time to see them grabbed from the perch on the corner of my eves. The crow flew away with the chick's leg in it's beak and the poor birdy flapping wings for a first and last flight. I was devastated and wondered if my bird feeder also interrupted the balance. I always leave little bits of thread, yarn and torn fabric around so they will weave them into nests. Did it attract the mother bird to an inappropriate and dangerous place to nest?

I have been waiting for the birds again and so have the crows but I don't think they will be back.
The crows , however, took a good look through my ivy today. I knocked on my window and jumped up and down but they just tilted their heads and looked at me like I was a total idiot.