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.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Laundry Sisters

Woke up this morning thinking about white work again. Today I am going to work on white pods and do some 3-d structuring and stitching to turn them into pupae. The stitchng will be done with the left-overs from the serging threads on the Solvy. I will also do a little burn with the tyvek envelope scraps and brush them with the Natural Sand texturing paste and some Irridescent interference. Should bring out the texture in the caps for the pods without losing white.

I am also going to make a silk screen and fill it with a number of textures I have been collecting. I keep losing the little screens and the larger one with many images on it will probably work better and be easier to store. The little ones are harder to stabilize when printing leaving a less precise image. This will mean doing the painting on the screen instead of using the photcopied imagery. One day a proper light unit might show up.

Joseph and I experimented last time and found that his puffy medium worked great on the stitched structures but the polypuff was just too thick. His (name unknown until he gets back) was much thinner. This made it a great way to articulate the stitching and not so good for printing the images to be burnt into. Not enough depth.

I am hoping the Babushka like units will be substantial enough to allow for a free floating center embryo. The problem has been crushing. Experimentation with stabilizers obliterated the diaphanous quality of the outer shells. A thinly stitched exoskeleton might work as a last component to the structure but this to be seen.

Bren is here with his trusty camera (mine really!) and will take a picture or two during the breaks.

Next fantasy entails diving bells that are huge balls large enough to fit a dancer! I found some and .... remember...not buying anything until next month and only if I have too!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tiny Bubbles

Cocoon Bodies Component One 2008 ( from scan) Each one is the size of a chicken's egg and made from Fiona Bowie's curtains.

I have spent the weekend texturing polyester with felting needles to give it strength and heat processing it to create diaphanous egg forms.

Keeping with the decision to buy nothing new for a month, all of the textiles are either re purposed from very old stuff or recycle entirely. Something about doing that makes the fabrics less precious and enables more spontaneity. Interesting that I didn't realize that inhibition was happening. One of the most satisfying textiles is a wine and gold polyester organza curtain that Fiona Bowie had on her window for years and sold for a buck at a street sale a few years ago. It has hung around the studio crawling out of the trunks since moving in. The fading has created very dyed and discharged looking areas and really takes on a fleshy appearance when broken down.

Other fabrics include a very iridescent white shawl scrap that really gains strength when messed with and a hoarded shimmering, golden scrap.

Hilary and I haven't been crossing paths in the studio because she is so busy working at Maiwa and teaching. We had a great meeting on Thursday and found materials for her workshop.

The new work is so much less taxing on the old body and is really happening. This is always a sign a block has been worked through and direction is much clearer. This is definitely a result of having to sort out work for students.

Practicing making structural supports and playing with pounding metal for jewelry is helping invent ways to create more sound and solid work. Gotta take another sculpture course.

The house is still a construction disaster zone and Tim starts working again on Tuesday leaving me with no bottom front stair and a balcony without a railing. My hobby lately is holding my tongue. Not successfully. It has been bitchin' hot finally and that has made working on hot asphalt tiles misery for Tim and Bren. Kimiko came to help give some directions and that helped.

The garden is producing food! Huge salad and garlic, little peas and rhubarb so far today. Looks like we can eat chard and basil in a few weeks and the peppers and tomatoes are growing. The berries are more than a month behind! Hundreds of apples on the trees so it will be a good year for chutney! Time to plant a pear or a plum tree.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


The work of Canadian film maker Guy Maddin are almost impossible to describe. He new work has taken historical imagery from many Winnipeg archives to create "My Winnipeg".

Guy Maddin is beyond dark and confounding. His films are often done in black and white and have the look of melodramatic films from the German Weimar Republic or agit prop films from old Rusian archives. He plays with stories and myths from a prairie context and from an isolated but more European Canadian community and pushes his imagery into very internal places. The films look as if they were made in the 1920's or 30's. His images of cold are jagged. His images of pain are wrenching and wretching. His portrayal of fear and anxiety become almost unbearable and extremely melodramatic. The sparce and impoverished environments transport me to the other wordly.

His understanding of the Icelandic and Norse imagination that has been transplanted to bleak Canadian prairie communities makes me want to move back to Winnipeg again.

His films include Tales From The Gimli Hospital, the silent film Dracula, Pages From A Virgin's Diary, and The Saddest Music in the World.

Fuel for inspiration.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Studio Sampling

Young has pulled together some very beautiful samples. I gave her yards of altered fabric to see what she can produce for pupae skins and other experiments. It was really great having her around because the place feels a little lonely this week without Joseph, her or Hilary.

Hilary called and generously sent a message for Young to apply at the studio with Isobel Sauers to do silk painting. I talked her out of taking a private school afterschool supervisor job because it will waste her energy and there are some textile jobs around right now. Too bad Joseph isn't here to shop his resume around.

It really is important to share information so we can survive fuinancially and socially in this work.

Young walked me through her installation about Walmart, the global economy and rice. It seems that some larger American Corporations are spending time marketing rice to Korea. Korea grows rice for it's own people. Young says that Asian imagery is intentionally used on packaging for American rice so that people will think it is from Asia. She challenges questions about global economy, food production and cheap labour and goods. Everything for the installation was purchased for very little money at Walmart.

Hope I can get the images up.

Roof not finished, missed calls from Lou Lou and now I only have one day with her, got a sinus infection.

All fixed with fresh raspberries and white chocolate. This was a way to help Brandon with his first tofu experience. Not so good....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pounding Things

Urban Landscape Brooch #21 Talya Baharal

Today was a learning day in the studio. I pulled out my hammers, pliers, grinders, and flamers.
They were used for making a big noise and altered surfaces to copper, old tin cans and steel.

Metal work is far more aggressive and satisfying than textile work on more energetic days. The use of of heat, grinding and chemical altering is accomplished more simply than when working with textiles. Good thing the end results can be used for embellishment and attachment.

I have been working on a series of textile and metal combined jewels for awhile and playing with the same pupae or pod inspirations. Today the materials used included an old Indian necklace that has been in my bead box for years, a coke can turned inside out, copper foiling leftovers, an old steel leftover cutting from Tim's last workshop and some copper wire. They were torched and pounded and pierced.

The grinding wheel is almost as satisfying as the heat gun. It throws sparks and requires concentration. Burnt fingers result from forgetting that friction creates heat.

The same patination chemicals are used on fabric and metal. The surprise is that some simple chemicals like lemon juice and vinegar and even leftover salts and soda pop also create patination. Rumour has it that cat food leaves a nice patination if dropped on copper or silver and then heated. I'll see if any is left in the cupboard since kitty's demise last spring.

Now to look for a small forge and a small kiln for the back yard.

The family is now hanging from the rafters doing roofing and I am rarely home. Poor Brandon, my sixteen year old cousin, is sleeping in the bed next to the computer and is so tired he hasn't budged the entire time I have spent writing. It is barely 9:00 pm

Tomorrow Young comes to the studio for some "comfort" and Lou Lou arrives from Quebec.
Young is now working full time at an uninspiring job and needs support to keep working creatively and Lou Lou just wants to party. Both are good for me!
More about Talya Baharal in another post. Incredible inspiring jeweler.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Not Afraid of Bees

Examples of Aganetha Dycks samplings
Samplings Aganetha Dyck

Aganetha Dyck is a Manitoba artist who works with bees to create the most astounding and haunting work. She studies every aspect that she can about how bees function and gets intimate enough to explore them right down to a hormonal level. Aganetha is an artist who crosses the boundaries that are between art and science.

She is concerned about bees and explores their incredible capacities. Agenetha and the bees use one another to create astounding textile works..

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I am feeling vulnerable today. It has been one of those weeks where my children have contacted me from three different locales and expressed the same concerns about the future of our world. None of them were prodded to do this and all raised the concerns early in a conversation about something unrelated and insignificant.

Each one said that they were worried about the earth. Each one made me cry a little and wonder if hope is something missing for many young people.

David Suzuki lives near me. He recently said in an interview that he is crying more often now and is worried about his grandchildren. He said he is shocked about how quickly things are moving now. Much quicker than he predicted. He once considered that he might be exaggerating a bit and now realizes that he really understated things. He also wished he'd given his children more hope!

I am sad for the honey bees that I love. 30% of the bees in British Columbia have died this spring. My honey man lost all of his bees. He can barely speak about it from grief. He cared for them so carefully and lovingly. They produced the sweetest mountain honey.

Two of my children have told me that they have chosen not to have children. They feel afraid.

I think those of us who went through the environmental movements of the sixties and seventies thought that we would have more influence and success. The first Green Peace meetings were in Vancouver and we spent time trying to stop the nuclear testing that was happening off this coast for years. some friends dedicated their entire young lives on trying to stop clear cut logging, fishing without limits and the destruction of our water.

I know that many of our children felt a bit frozen by this knowledge and that we tried then to introduce the alternatives to disaster and create a positive environment for hope.

Many things have changed for the better. People eat organic food that is locally grown. We have neighbourhood farmers markets and gardens. Many people ride bikes here. Enough that the local corporate supermarket has to stock organics and bike lanes have been set up all over the city. Last week we held car free days all over Vancouver and thousands of people showed up.

I see many young people working towards the alternatives and having fun at it. I think they are more thoughtful than we were.

Bruce Elkin wrote an article in his blog Create What Matters Most. He is concerned that we combat fear at the same time as we create alternatives to maintain our focus and our energies. Bruce was the coordinator of the free school I attended in Calgary when I was a kid.
He was around for some of my early activism. He has live it lifelong.

I think, though, that we were really good at playing and making noise and having fun.
I will remind my sons of that. Cynicism isn't always helpful. But it certainly doesn't help to ignore the big old picture.

David Suzuki http://www.davidsuzuki.org/NatureChallenge/gardencontest/

Bruce Elkin http://createwhatmattersmost.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blogging Worlds

Eve Mosher Charcoal drawings
Eve Mosher Charcoal drawings

Eve Mosher Charcoal drawings

Cellular Studies Conte on Paper Patricia Chauncey

Cellular Landscape Studies Conte on per Patricia Chauncey

Cellular Landscape Studies Conte on paper Patricia Chauncey

Cellular Studies Conte on paper Patricia Chauncey 2005 - 2008

Abigail Doan surprized me today with images of artists Eve Mosher, Austin Thomas, Abigail Doan and Patricia Chauncey. She has decided that there is something about our collective work that resonates in a similar way. This is uncanny since most of us were unaware of the other's work.

I ran into Abigail's images when i was still dealing with medication and cancer. Her work was on Neo-images and it became a healing visual for me. It took my breath away and has always lived
somewhere in my soul.

I remember sitting here stunned when I saw Eve Mosher's work and wondering if she had been looking over my shoulder. I know she hadn't and I hadn't seen her work either. I was even more floored when I saw her sketches. Were they ripped from my sketch book?

Austin has worked on creating the utopic work space and has considered carefully the repurposing of public space for art making. Abigail introduced me to Austin's ideas a few months ago when I was stressing about the possibility of losing my studio. I, then, had to consider the priviledge of having it and how I could repurpose it for others to share. Austin now has a studio in the Elizabeth Building in New York. A place of one of my favourite art experiences when I traveled there with Naughty Peter a few years ago. I wanted a studio there but I live here. Now I am so happy to know Austin is there. Even if I only know her through the blogworld.

Each of these artists touches a place in my psyche and we clearly share part of our visual language. How did we learn it? Was it a result of our technology and a relationship to both macro and micro information? Was it about our relationship to the greater feminine and our internal landscapes? A shared concern for our earth? An activist bent? Coffee?

I dunno but I am delighted by it.

The other three have now met. I am in Canada and can only visit them on the internet.
I have discovered each artist on my own through internet browsing. Each time I felt a pull towards their work.

It is worth time to read through these other blogs.

Abigail Doan http://abigaildoan.blogspot.com/

Austin Thomas http://drawingontheutopic.blogspot.com/

Eve Mosher http://www.mudandsticks.com/

Thrall's Tales

Current reading and listening material

Martha Stewart Reversable Purse

taken from her official Martha Stewart living site.
I have spent the week escaping my little house and it now is roofless.
Today the giant disposal unit gets taken away and I can stop chasing illegal parkers from the construction site.

Things I have learned:
1. Construction is gritty and dirty.
2. Construction is dangerous.
3. Your neighbours don't like demolition and construction. They let you know they are being patient because they have to do it themselves this summer.
4. You have to be nice to people doing construction or they might walk away and not come back and leave you without a roof.

I have completed my reversable Martha Stewart bag and I love it! I have made a bag a day for the last week and I am now getting the hang of it. I have also been making bookmarks for stocking stuffers for friends and family. Anything mindless while my sweets are hanging through the rafters with saws and pneumatic nail guns.

Have decided not to buy anything new for a month and see what I can do with repurposed materials. Nothing new. No threads or glues, cloth or paint. There is really a need to use up what is there for awhile. Considering that there is enough to fill a small store!

Taped books and hand stitching go well together. Now back to the Thrall's Tale by Judith Lindbergh. A story about a Viking thrall woman at the time of the introduction of Christianity to Europe. The research is not bad historically. A little slocky at times but the story works for me. How realistic is it that a Viking Slave marries a Viking chief? Not very likely but fun.

Back to Martha, slaves and dismemberment spells. To Odin and Freya!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


How extreme is having the Embellisher spit 4 needles at the same time?

Little metal shards in everything!

Dangling From Rafters.

Tim and Brendan are dangling from the rafters with pneumatic nail guns and electric chain saws.
They have taken off the roof and have succeeded in sucking out every breath in my body.

I have to leave for the studio or I will eat my tongue. At least I can pretend that every thing is fine when in there. A little disassociation doesn't hurt. Will finsih pupae bags and listen for ambulances.

The problem with being a visual and imaginative person is just that!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Femke Van Delft

Femke Van Delft Guerrilla installation "Missing" on Cambie Street Vancouver.

Femke Van Delft's Guerrilla Installation at local John Hendry Park
Femke Van Delft "Missing" Project

Femke Van Delft "Missing" A Guerrilla Mapping Project

Femke's work has moved and entertained me since I first ran into her installation at the Artropolis Show at the CBC a few years ago. I was there installing my work "blood, water, salt rot" and Femke was installing thousands of pencils hanging in a scene from the huge ceilings.

I at first thought I had run into the new Lenore Tawny and then realised I was looking at something far more humorous and amazing.Femke can peel a pencil and keep the shaving intact to create hanging wonder. Threatening work with it's sharp but familiar objects.

She has gone on to create the moving and important work "Missing" , a guerrilla mapping installation installation using the legs and bottoms of female manikins., identifying locations where Vancouver's sex trade workers were last seen before being killed or going missing and other situations relating to sex crimes against women. These installations popped up in identified locations during the night.

Femke and I share this neighbourhood. We shop in the same stores and have both been the head of the parent committee at the local school. We have both faced down local authorities and presented cases to all levels of government here. We have both spoken up regarding the situation for sex trade workers in our city.She cheered me up more than a few times when I was really ill.

She once commented when I was hanging work..."I want more of them, hundreds of them, thousands of them covering a huge wall. " I have been working towards this excess for awhile.

I always wait for her work. Hundreds of them!

For a great read and visual overwhelm check our Femke's web site at http://www.FemkeVanDelft.com/


Joseph and I spent a very useful day in the William Street Studio yesterday. He helped me warp up my loom! I haven't woven anything for at least ten years except for a few little embellishments. Everything is warped up now in a lovely acid green.

It is something that came back to me in a rush. Hands obviously develop memory!

It was a stealthy pleasure watching Joseph handle the looms and the yarns so capably. He fell into his natural rythym and lost himself in the tasks. He also taught me as he went along in his quiet and thoughtful way. He has also produced very fine little swatches of lambs wool felts made with the Embellisher.

Young was not able to come yesterday because she had two job interviews. She did, however, leave a little bag of extremely exciting samples. She took home some of the silk rovings and yarns to play with and created tiny egg shaped samples of transparent layerings. I just gasped when I opened the bag and egg creatures were at the bottom.

Joseph and Young have spent part of each day experimenting with the Embellisher and with me have conquered some of the challenges of developing three dimensional work on it. I really like this working in a group thing.

I showed Joseph some of the basics of encaustic work with the little craft irons.

Today my little houses roof is being ripped off by son Brendan and hubby Tim. There is no way I am going to be any where near this place because I will eat off my own arm watching my son on the roof. Hypervigilence kicks in when my kids are on high places with sharp tools. Logic doesn't matter. Doesn't even matte rthat they are all over twenty five! I just have to get out of here!!!

I plan on making yarns with my sewing machine from fabric leftovers and the many spools of polyesther I have laying around. Then I can start to weave when they are finished. I just need to get them fine enough.

Pamela Cambrozia is back working in the studio down the hall so there will be company for tea.

Friday, June 13, 2008


It has been haunting to get a peek into Cay Mitchell's life. She died a few years ago after living a few years with Alzheimer's. Cay was a member of the HGA and the Weaver's Guil;d in Vancouver and was an accomplished and prized winning weaver.

I now own her weaving books and looms. I can feel the touch of her hand on the looms and her breath on the yarns that came with them.

The looms came out of a bright blue, sunny room in a tiny but original house in East Vancouver.
The house was built in the fourties and had not really been altered at all since that time. A few of the pieces of furniture were older than that time but not many. Cay had woven all of the curtains on the windows and they were lovely. The closets in the house still had her weavings carefully covered against the dust.

I now want to live in this house and am going to talk to her children about buying it. It is small and compact with two bedrooms and a kitchen, living and dining room. It has a solarium out the back and a small porch. All of the ceilings are coved and rounded like the doors. There is a little round cornered garage in the back. The rooms are set up in a little rabbit warren but functional and lovely way. The tiles on the bathroom floors, kitchen and fireplace are all those lovely little tiles and mosaics from the fourties and are not even chipped or damaged. The floors are hardwood and some are covered in old Persian rugs.

The garden is mostly grass and the lot seems large for a little Vancouver house. It is on a quiet street where all the other houses except one are from the same era and have also not really been touched.

I walked in and was nearly knocked over by the good ghosts that came rushing out at me. I felt happy and cared for the second I walked into the house and basked happily in each little corner the entire time I visited it. Her sons were roaming around the house as if they had always been there. I know that they each have seperate lives and moved away years ago but they fit like slippers in the house.

The real estate speculation in Vancouver is awful and the house prices have gone up and up over the last few years. I wonder if selling this little house will come out with enough to finance Cay's little house? I am going to talk to her son's and the bank and see if it is possible.

Her son told me he was more concerned about having the house torn down than the extra money the developers offered him. He said that the neighbourhood would be lost if people gave in. He works at the largest homeless shelter in Vancouver and recognized some of my work with the poor in Vancouver.

I don't think we need to live in the large houses that are being sold throughout the
Fraser Valley these days. Houses really were so much smaller and delightful in the past.
I will have to wander back through when I pick up the carders and figure out if it was just Cay's ghost or if the house was really that happy!

Today Joseph and I warp up Cay's loom. I will make a tiny work and bury it in her yard!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Joseph Dagsaan, one of my practicum students, and my partner Tim spent the day working like slaves to assemble the looms. They are now set up and functional in the gallery space in my studio. Tight fit!

Young Park, my other practicum student, came into the studio like a trooper after having a week full of feeling ill. She spent a shaky day at the embellisher experimenting with acrylic felts, old fabrics and creating a whole new silk roving felt embellished with lamb's wool. The texture of all of them and the ability to create texture and imagery is remarkable. She also showed me experiments with cheap, coloured nylon stockings, shibori tying, boiling and embellishing. The results were completely gorgeous. She spends a lot of her time thinking about uses for post industrial materials and post consumer products and disposables. She wonders why we are cherishing the work of artists when the work of skilled industrial textile workers gets completely taken for granted. Young is also working with Leslie Richmond.

Poor Young had to go home after a few hours because she was shaky and unwell. I hope she is able to make it this Friday because I really enjoy having her around. She has said that she would like to stay with me in the studio for awhile which is just great.

Sadly Joseph has to leave for a family holiday on Monday and won't be back for awhile. His priority is finding a job and a new apartment. He has earned himself forever loom rights for assembling the loom for me. He says he wants to spend more time in the studio after he gets a little more settled.

The relationship I have with practicum students always works for me. I love the energy and reminders of information and constantly learning from them. Each one has pumped up my art practise and strayed me into new and interesting forays.

Now the plan is to contact two of the other students who have expressed an interest in working with me. Capilano College had an excellent class of graduates this year. The textile world needs to pay attention and welcome them.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Working on White

Winter Skin 2007 Patricia Chauncey Cast Silcone Microcrystaline Powders
White organza shibori shawl, gut ball, sand pods Patricia Chauncey

Dark melted sample for Protection Cloak and Hide Patricia Chauncey
Photographer Christine Hatfull

I have spent the afternoon in my cold house working on white stuff.
The temparature was so far below normal that I can almost see my breath.
It hit 8 degrees at one point today and I had to put on socks and an extra fleece to work out in the diagonal slanting rain. The wind was so cold today that the cloth would barely melt. Good thing was that no holes appeared at all.

Tim designed me a new little art shed for the back garden deck. It can be taken apart and folded up when not in use. Made with recycled lumber and an old sail for weather protection. Good for cold, rain or too much sun (as if!).

Tomorrow night I pick up two new looms. Old looms actually. They belonged to the weaver Catherine Mitchell. Her son has sold them to me for a fraction of what they are worth and included bencheds, heddles and warping boards.

Funny that me, as a confirmed surface designer, has been called back to the loom. I think it was the paper yarns that practicum student Joseph Dagsaan has reintroduced me to. Also the recycled cloth yarns I have been making and the amazing silk and bamboo yarns I saw at the Yarn Warehouse in Portland. Vesna showed me some basic techniques for weaving in metal a few years ago and designer Peter Tsang showed me his copper garments before he left for Paris again.

I will weave once again although I was once called the worst weaver that Capilano College ever saw! I had to admit to aging before I bought honkin' big glasses which helped with the warping. Weaver Barry Goodman helped me warp before I figured out that it wasn't the lousy loom but the lousy eyes.

Now that I am faced with serious eye problems (side effect from the medication Prednisone) weaving seems like something I can handle again. I am sure I can find someone to warp up for me.

All the extreme and altered materials I have been working with can be transferred to weaving. I will keep to plan on the pupae project but get to add a new element and some other energy to the studio.

Time to bundle up, face the weather and dream of tropical New York!

Livable Workable Spaces

June 6, 2008 Oikos Project (a year long project done by Abigail Doan) Sigh!

I have been sharing my studio again with two practicum students and Hilary Young. Tim and I have also been trying to figure out how to make the house more live workable.

Yesterday my son Brendan was working with a group of artists, architects and planners to consider the area around Great Northern Way as a workable art community. They considered the whole problem of people continually losing project space as a result of real estate speculation and have started to look at how to preserve "bad spaces".

My studio is a vulnerable "bad space". It is the upstairs of a drafty, old textile warehouse that has been divided into small studios or working rooms. The windows are from another era and are huge so the natural light is phenomenal all year round. It gets cold or too hot and isn't well insulated. It has electricity and heat and room to stretch out. The land , however, has become very valuable.

I need to have a place to work where I can use dyes and other materials that should not be used in a public environment and there is no place for that.
It makes me conscious of the materials I am using, which is a good thing.
Questions about art materials and impact on the environment is always an issue. So much of what we work with is rotten for our health and earth.

Extreme textiles are examples of both recycling and not so great. Many of the materials I use are recycled but are heat processed once again. I have to mask up and protect my skin. I use power and electricity and make fumes.

I also recycle paper and then burn it. Perhaps I should be duplicating a burnt look with the materials I use with pigments instead of fire? Perhaps I should be stitching and having less impact when creating dimension? More challenging and more fun!

Natural process in extreme embroidery is also amazing. Rot, staining, sun bleaching are all no impact process. What could be more extreme than using a rusting and natural mineral process with my work? What is more extreme than using the bleaching and burning power of the sun? With a magnifying glass? Or the huge windows?

I looked this morning again at the work of Manhattan - Tuscany artist Abigail Doan. She uses recycled and natural materials in her haunting constructions and is one of my favourite artists. Her ability to keep the important things about living on our earth in mind while working is laudable. Her constant reminders of life process makes these constructions so important to me.

Austin Thomas is another artist who considers the importance of working environments in our communities. I watch carefully for her ideas on work spaces and art making.

Blogs for Austin Thomas are http://drawingontheutopic.blogspot.com/

Abigail Doan's blog is http://abigaildoan.blogspot.com/

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Yarns on Paper

Paper Yarn Weaving by Pirkko Karvonen Oil Workers in Alberta

Being part Newfoundlander, I learned to spin a yarn at a young age. Not lies. No one told lies in my family. They embellished, exaggerated, stretched fact. But no lies! Everything in my little world was much larger than life. It was brighter in colour and more melodious.

My partner's people are more of a Calvanistic background than I. They stuck to the facts and played everything down to the point of disappearance. The less colour, the less noise, the least expensive, the most somber were in order in their Spartan world. Quite clearly this presented problems.

What I learned from my Calvanist husband was a lot of making due. I swear he can make anything out of anything and as a result creates a very comfortable life with very little. He straightens nails!. Every piece of wood in the house is used in many different ways and has a very extended life. He has the capability of making useful things out of the most ordinary found objects. Bodger extraordinary! He delights at being faced with deprivation.

I decided a long time ago that he would be the person to bring if stranded on a deserted island. There would be no want for anything!

When my children were young he figured out that the awful, heated water bed was the perfect place to rise the breads he baked for our family every Saturday.
He made treefort beds for the boys and made a tiny cottage in the miniscule back garden at our townhouse that was shipped up island and placed on a tiny inexpensive piece of land we once owned on Savary Island.

I have to watch him very carefully around food stuff. It seems his family didn't believe in food poisoning and really thought it was a North American fetish. I have to sneak old food out of the fridge before he throws it into one of my soups.
I have caught him taking stuff that I have thrown out and putting it back in the fridge. His father tells me that he has an Uncle Leonard gene. Uncle Leonard once served an apple pie that had been sitting so long that a little apple tree had sprouted from the middle!

I thought of them today when I was rolling paper advertisements to make paper yarn. It is gorgeous when done properly. It is possible to make yards and yards from one page of the newspaper. Tim might like to do this. It will keep him out of the fridge!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Home Again

Powell Books in Portland. No credit for photo because I couldn't find one!

Tim and I drove home from the middle of the Oregon Coast today. Nine hours non stop driving in our trusty but questionable van. Rained like a pig all day so it was a cool drive home. I can't describe how strange it is waking up looking over the waves of Oregon and falling to sleep in my own little cubby.

The van was full of art supplies and great books that we mostly purchased in Portland. I love Portland! We always meet really lovely, kind people there. The Powell Bookstore is there with miles and rooms full of books that you always wanted and forgot to buy. The bestest seafood by far is there and so are the most wonderful chefs. I never feel unusual there. People are tall, blond and big.

We treated ourselves to everything. Last night the dinner was at the the Blackfish Cafe in Lincoln. I had a duck breast on a white cheddar sage rissoto
on a bed of white cabbage, port and apples dressed with walnuts from the area.
The sauce was made from local huckleberries. Tim had a meal of fresh local scallops, on a wilted spinach and argula on a special rice. We moaned through every bite. The night before we ate a local everything chowder and home baked bread. We also ate something that was called "tres leche cake" which was rather like breast feeding from the Goddess herself!

I learned how to make needle lace from an older woman at the Portland Museum of Craft and was taken into the back rooms after identifying some of the artists. Barbara Cohen and Sharmini both have work in the shop. Ken Shore had an incredible show of his ceramics and feather work. The local high schools had a really wonderful show of student work.

There were California sea lions everywhere basking on all the beaches. Pelicans were migrating and making lots of crash dives in attempts to fish. The beaches were still a little chilly but the weather was really comfortable.

The only downside was my eyes. They hurt in the sunlight and things go bright white without definition. I have lost the ability to read street signs and had a nasty time crossing the street if Tim wasn't with me.

So I drew with big charcoals and contes and made plans for my students and got enough inspiration for the summer. Waxes were purchased for forming negatives and positives. I have decided to learn to feel my way through things and to figure out how to do some work before the eye surgery. A big thanks to Dale Chihuly for taking on art with a sight impairment. He does amazing stuff with one eye and still works with hot things.

So Joseph and Young will get a much bigger practicum than any of my other students have ever had. Joseph really proved himself and his abilities last week.
He worked like a trooper and only complained at the appropriate times. He also taught me how to weave with yarn he makes from Tim Horton's bags. Young starts this week and is also working with Leslie Richmond.