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.

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!

1 comment:

arlee said...

It sounds SO perfect! I hate the Boneyard developments looming over everything--my dream too is to have a small place with some land and some history.

Weaving a piece for her and then lovingly committing it to the Earth is a lovely thing to do......