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, September 21, 2012


Sometimes there is a beautiful reward for being forgetful. Patience is hard to come by but is necessary with botanical printing. The temptation to lift the covers and just peek is overwhelming when waiting for the beautiful and surprising results of natural printing process.

Ksenya was my assistant at the Island Mountain Arts course from this summer with the taster of different methods of natural dyeing. We had carefully placed objects and leaves on our organic cottons and buried them in the compost to await the results. Then the patient ones put the little bundles
in plastic bags and placed them in suitcases to be opened for later. Ksenya forgot hers in the hot trunk of her car. The package stayed there festering from July to September. The plastic kept the package wet and steeping for all this time. She found it while cleaning out the car and came flying over to the
small talk Gallery to show me the steaming and ugly package.

We placed this living, breathing being on the ground and just observed it in amazement. It was time to go in and see what damage had been accomplished with the summer of neglect/ patience.

Open. Hold breath. The smell was still healthy with an overtone of mildew or moldy earth. The little wrapped bundle was throbbing with life. Ksenya opened the package. Slowly and carefully. The tying threads had become fragile enough to snap off quite quickly. The big reveal exposed an encrusted surface that had plant material and compost. We both took off the barks, leaves and flowers that had morphed into very swamp like remains. This took a little while.

 Complete delight was revealed when we finally turned the cloth over.  Breathtaking organically printed beauty created by nature, forgetfulness and some of the delicious methods adapted partially from the explorations of my textile heroine, India Flint.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I have my moments of perfectionism but mostly I don't stress about little details. I would have gone completely crazy as a girl with three brothers and as a mom with four sons. Creative children and adults need to make a mess. Sometimes creative development requires continuous mess.

My mother was a completely spotless and tidy human being. We were spit polished, floors and wooden furniture gleamed, silver sparkled and windows never had spots. A daily routine for all chores. Which we were never really included in. I was rewarded occasionally with the opportunity to wash a wall, make salads and iron. Boys outside and girls inside. I was the only girl. Housework felt oppressive and still does.

 My mother hated ironing. She figured it out. She would "reward" me with the opportunity to iron from the time I was nine. " If you are really a good girl you might get to iron!" I confess to loving ironing to this day. I love the smell of sweet clean clothes
sprinkled with scented water or "linen" water. The physical action and routine delights me. I used my grandmother's sprinkling bottle to dampen the clothes. It was probably my great grandmother's as I think back.

I have a relationship to textiles through acts of laundry.

 I used to love ironing my father's shirts. I would think of how nice he would look. My big, handsome Dad. Mostly he wore shirts from the cleaners all covered in plastic and hung in the front hall. A perfect covering for his upwardly mobile desires from his farm boy past. But when he wasn't working in offices he wore what I ironed.

My Grandfather's shirts all retained the smell of tobacco. No matter how carefully they were washed. He smoked like a volcano from the age of nine and it defined his scent. Tweedy wool jackets and blue cotton shirts.  He would never wear a white shirt except to a wedding or funeral. He was a "blue collar" Communist. But he always wore pressed shirts and pomade in his lovely dark curly hair. Which he covered in an old fashioned newsboy hat.

My little sons wore sweats and  t-shirts most of the time. Shirts made them itchy. But once in awhile I was treated to ironing them. I was rewarded with their jeans, pockets first, waistbands next, waist details and full leg and then the crisp pleat. No pleats after twelve. No messing with the shredded tears.

Bren was the exception. He wanted to look like Humphrey Bogart from the age of seven. He wore a fedora tilted on his head. He had a little suit jacket and hated the feeling of jeans. He loved swing music. He would open doors for me to pass and say, "Madame" like a doorman. He liked white cotton shirts like Barney, our next door neighbour.

Tim thought ironing was a big waste of time and raced for the dryer to hang things immediately and crisply. He felt guilty when I did anything like that. He didn't want me to act like I was a maid. His English upbringing. I used to sneak in and do it sometimes and hang things by colour. It drove him nuts so I stopped. I have also noticed that he also likes doing laundry.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Frozen Leaves and Foggy Mountains.

The season is turning fast. We just went up to the annual celebration in Wells called the Pig Roast at Danny and Lorraine's farm about four miles into the bush above Wells. There was snow on the ground. Snow!

Changing the walls in the "small talk Gallery" one more time before I close the doors for the winter. Winter will be here by October. Cold winter. So I am putting in a real furnace this week. Because I want to spend part of the winter here in sweet little Wells.

Husband Tim and my eldest son Dane are here helping pull things together. This is a help because I have had a slightly shocking struggle with my body this season. My cancer has decided to move into Stage 4. Treatment in the traditional sense is no longer available. No more radiation or traditional chemo therapy for now. Medication is only being used to hold the wayward cells from too developing quickly.

Funny thing is that I feel so very well! Better and happier than I have felt in years. Except I am a bit tired and weaker sometimes. Living a fairly moderate life seems to hold me up just fine. Not very moderate by nature.
I am creative and as productive as possible. Not in serious pain at all. My brain is working and all passions are intact. But there hasn't been enough extra to do some of the little things like writing in this little blog while running the gallery, teaching and making a little art.

I am so very lucky to have my wonderful family and friends. But sometimes they need to be reminded that I ain't close to dead yet!

Stay posted for my next series of work and inspiration.