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, December 2, 2013

More Feather Basket

I am working on a raffia and iris frond coil basket.

Using some of the feathers from my feather collection.

Harvesting the Rust Gardens

rust garden in a gold pan
rusty garden tools

silk crepe and rusted objects

kosher salt garden in a gold pan

layering rust staining on silk crepe

deep rust on cotton
 I have been playing with rust gardening and dyeing again.

Watching the constant metamorphosis is such a visual reminder
that everything changes. The process of this change is startling and beautiful. Something as strong as iron can be rendered to soft powder.

Friday, November 29, 2013


I have little labs set up wherever I am working.
There collections of natural objects live to inspire the pathways.

The rust is developed intentionally. Little rust gardens blossoming everywhere.
This lab was in the burn shed on the balcony in Vancouver.

I remember having discussions with a mover who was furious about moving small boxes of rocks.
"These aren't rocks. They are inspirational objects from all over the world."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Feather Baskets And Collage

Nothing is more satisfying to me than basket making. Comforting repetative action that allows for a meditative state. Sometimes you just wander off and get yourself where you never expected.This is a simple coiled basket made with raffia and iris leaves. Playing with feathers all week.

Working on a little series called "Gonna Have To Borrow Some Feathers To Get Me Outta Here!". And thinking lots about the responsibilities around mortality. And chickens.

Beautiful Package

This is the beautiful parcel I recieved from Deb Lacativa.
The colour, handwork and deliciousness of the piece is lighting up both my life and a little corner of my house.

Deb's work is so fearless and full of so many little tiny details. I have been thrilled by her work for years and years. I have only seen images on the internet and in magazines.

My little post box in the forest just near Sweethaven on Mayne Island B.C. throbbed with the energy of this piece. A wee package poured out and I opened it while standing there. A gasp doesn't describe the breath I took in when I unfolded it.

Deb Lacativa is a textile hero of mine and a friend through this little box. She has a beautiful blog called

Beautiful Deb Lacativa textile that fell from my mailbox.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Six Weeks

Six weeks ago, at the beginning of my recent trials and tortures, I threw a small piece of cloth in the |rust bucket just outside the greenhouse. It sat forgotten throughout the fall and stained and rusted away. I have mostly been out of commision creatively and almost forgot it. But I am up imitating someone who can walk once again.
There was the bucket sitting there in a fairly accesible place and everything was floating on the top. A little swish revealed a very rust stained cloth. Thrlling to have the creative process and nature proceed without direct action.

A quick decision and the cloth was rinsed just a little by garden hose, laid on the lawn and plants close enough to get too were placed on the cloth in a haphazard configuration, Spontaneous and impatient. Like with most things lately. Design decided by pain tolerance. The closest available leaves , branches and berries included arbutus bark, arbutus berries, buttercup leaves, euculyptus leaves, pear leaves and bark and fig leaves for the wrapping. Haphazard. Poorly placed. All wrapped up tight together around an unknown twig and fastened with my braid elastic.

I brought the drippy thing into the entry and found the big dye pot that just made it's way home from the studio in Wells and emptied the tea pot, the coffee pot and grounds, three half drunk water bottles and a bowl full of rain water. Plus eight pre-used black tea bags and  threw it on the stove to simmer for the afternoon. More fig leaves and embroidery threads were added later as an after thought.

This morning revealed a lovely cloth that my efforts didn't deserve. And pretty thread to stitch it with.

A photograph when the sun comes out again.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Once I Was

Once I was a girl who didn't know any of this. I thought I knew things.
I was ready to learn. And I learned some things.

And now I can't remember what all of those things were.

I was 17 once.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sick Friendships and Tea

When you are really sick in this culture people do strange things.

Some people fawn over you and forget you were ever a person who was a thinking adult.
They say things to you that they would say to a puppy or a two year old. Your illness makes you cute.
Baby angels show up, pictures of kitties meant for children's story books. A maudlin menace of shallow meaning and magical thinking. Crystals, fairies, unicorns, Crystal fairies riding unicorns surrounded by pink happy faces. And then they bring treats you are not allowed to eat and use tea cup after tea cup they never wash.

Some people use visits as an opportunity to unload all kinds of personal detritus. Objects and thoughts. They let you know they have a boo boo or a scrape or a terrible personal dilemma. They want you to know they also have feelings. They ask you how you are and if you answer a corner of that question with honesty they say things like, "Well, well we all have problems." They too use a lot of tea cups. After they have cheered you up.

Some people use visits as an opportunity to measure your situation against their situation. In competition. They not have measured up to much in their own lifetime but they are better than you now, finally.They teach you constantly. About nutrition and spirituality. They talk about personal responsibility and karma. And they scrutinize every breath you take and every posture you make. They even correct your breathing. Like the worst nightmare of a grade 4 teacher you ever had. They do, however, usually wash the tea cups.

Some people case out the joint and start to enquire about my stuff, my art and in two cases my very husband. I say things like "Hey I'm not dead yet or he isn't finished with me yet." He says he can feel it in the air. Like sniffer dogs in heat. They usually do the dishes and prepare a full five course meal. Or offer to. And then sit you cozy and comfy in another room while they dazzle with full French service aimed at what they consider to be the next available incredible and very handsome man. But my husband is a smart and funny man. He has always seen past rouses and moves his plate beside mine. He explains where she can find a chair. One once landed in his lap. By accident. With three extra buttons undone on her fully bosomed and healthy chest. He is English. He looked at her and stood up and went to get a chair. She stood  there helplessly as he gently guided her shoulders down  and plunked her in the chair. She didn't do the mess of dishes that she left.

There are others. Like the prayers and the wailers and the ones that offer their own lives. The guilty ones who apologise not for being stupid but for guilt for guilt's sake. They also never do the dishes because they have offered so much more.

But the very worst of all are the people who have sworn undying love and support for you. You usually feel very close to them because they were in your inner circle and you loved them. They make heartfelt appointments all the time and cancel them. They tell you on the text that they think about you all the time but they forgot something very important like it was the Queen's birthday. Or they just forget, have a more promising date or a greener pasture. They do things like move without forwarding addresses. They don't make tea cups at all. Just huge empty spaces where they should have been. And they aren't. And they know.

And then there are your friends and old lovers who just know when to come. They bring curry and tea. They see your hair needs combing and they comb it. They climb into bed with you and bring in the world. They giggle and laugh and help you yell at the world. They comfort all around here with just plain real. They remind you of your beauty and your light.   And when you grieve they fall into the hole with you but pull you out again. They get that you just can't be sane with all the shit that is pumped into you. They don't care. They come when you call them. Like you were allowed to do for them.
They understand this chicken coop. And they are what makes this easier. Because they bring their own dishes and  take them away.

So thank you so much. You know who you are. I know who you are. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Failure Dream

There is a pile of paper in front of me that has been cut and stitched together in a purposeful way.
All done with intention and methodical.

I inspect it carefully. It is not paper but spotless white linen. It is stitched with black lines,

I jump back from it. It has all been done wrong. But it is complete. There is no way to put it back together to get the information straight. To figure it out.

I try for a few minutes and know it is hopeless, I will be blamed.

I turn and close the door and cover it with with old newspaper.

I feel so sick with grief at my complete failure.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Tim has spent since Wednesday nursing me through a rather difficult side effect.
This has included putting half teaspoons of water in my mouth and sleeping on the floor beside my bed.

He is such an incredible grown up man in the face of this. I looked at him and realized I made an actual choice to be with him. I wasn't swept away in dysfunctional fits of passion although I could have done that. And there was never a shortage of passion. It was a clean and clear choice to be with someone as stubborn and who tried as hard as I did. To recognize I needed solid, strong and smart.

I kept looking at him on the floor beside the bed in my addled state and thought he is still here. I am safe.
I never thought I would be. I never was before.

I keep reminding myself this is a drug reaction and not the very end. But for some reason it has allowed me to see into a crack of the future window.

I want someone real to find him after I am gone and sweep him up with more than I ever could. And live longer than him. So he gets this perfect love.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lovely Mayne Island Day.

Beautiful colours on this forest being.

I put the olive jar in just to give an idea of the size of this beast.

Another huge skull like mushroom pushing through the ground.
Today, despite the earlier disappointment of being stood up by an old friend, I was determined to have a really nice day and not collapse into the lack of energy this new medication makes me feel. I can no longer afford to take even one part of my life for granted.

I braided my hair and put on my hiking boots and took a long, meandering walk into the beautiful little village of Miner's Bay. My forest and the surrounding woods were completely fresh and bright after the wind and rain of the last few days. It was sunny but the air and pathways were crispy with slight cold and fallen leaves. Fall is starting.

The quiet of the Island is disrupted constantly by ferries sounding their horn but there was a new sound. I thought someone was pounding rocks together but it was young bucks challenging one another and fighting with the beautiful antlers they spent all summer growing. The rut has started. There were does hiding near my garden and woodshed. They are plump and shiny from a summer of stuffing themselves. All of them are constantly sniffing the air for the smell of danger and romance.

The mushrooms are everywhere and all kinds of different varieties new to me. The foraging instinct took over. Beautiful bulbous beauties pushing up through the ground. Some in the moss and some pushing up through the gravel road. Lines of them on fallen tree trunks. A palette including blood red, pumpkin, lemon yellow, 50 shades of beige and grey and creamy vanilla. The road to the village was lined with them with a new patch every few feet. I could only identify two of them. Both deadly and poisonous, I felt my ignorance.

The journey was slow and measured. A pace that worked out just fine. First stop was the bookstore to pick up mushroom identification books. Next was the little art store to pick up modeling material  for the forms for my new sculptures. The best little bookstore and art store. And a trip up the stairs to the Conservancy library. But they were having lunch so I went down to the dock and the Springwater Inn to have some too.

I am getting used to being alone again. Sometimes miles of alone. I sat to eat my chicken dinner and there was one other person in the restaurant. I looked at him.  He looked at me then came over, sat at my table and  talked for an hour. He was funny, sweet and very English. A sailor named Andrew who had enough of his boat in last night's wind.

Things got a little informal and he started eating off my plate. Bad and dangerous move! Not  seductive or charming. I come from a large, competitive family and food boundaries are observed in my world. I stopped talking and counted to ten. Backwards. He was English so sensitivity wasn't going to happen here. I decided to laugh instead and really missed my husband, who is English, and is sometimes allowed to eat off my plate.

Andrew wanted to know if I wanted to go for a little sail.

 Oh Gawd! Not a little sail. Not an etching. And not a sampling of homemade wine. Just some company at lunch.

I looked at his watch and explained I worked from home and lied about needing to get back for a phone meeting. Then he called me Pamela (not my name) and picked up the tab and asked if I came in often. And I thought about how nice being alone is. And how nice people really are. So I just thanked him and thought about the doe hiding in my woodshed.

"Bye Pam".

"Bye Sailor."

Clearly proper names aren't required here.

I walked up hill and listened to the quiet interrupted by the ferry horns. On the way home I saw a Boleta, a White Chanterelle and a False Morel.  It really was a very good day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Brielle's Birthday

I got a brand new baby granddaughter today. Her name is Brielle.
She is tall and strong. Her birth weight is 9 pounds. She is loud and doing everything good babies do.
Her mommy and I have appreciated each others super powers.

Birth is the universe.

Monday, September 16, 2013

All Cooped Up!

We have been building our chicken coop. Translated to mean, Tim has been building and I have been suggesting, feeding, offering support, back patting and climbing in and rubbing the building lovingly and with purpose. He will remember that we built it together. He always gives me more credit than deserved.

But together we love chickens equally. They give back. They talk to you. They have communities and hierarchies. They even have wars. Chickens can be more melodramatic than actors from the 30's. They express their agonies and fears.They hold strikes and withdraw egg laying if you forget to do something in their contract. They don't mind being cuddled and held if they have an intimate relationship with you.

So bit by bit the coop is being built by my careful and caring partner. For me. For our little domain.

Our beautiful feathered birds should be here next weekend. Black Copper Marans. French swamp hens who lay eggs like shiny, copper coins.

Always measures twice.

Not a simple cut and paste coop for me.

Tim seems to like building in the pouring rain.

My new chicken home is now waiting for the leaded glass windows.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013


Oh  Joop

I found out today that your life has ended, My dear, dear lovely man.
How can that be? I am not prepared.
Your brilliance astounded me.
Your sensual being left smoke in every room you entered.
I will miss you forever because there is nothing else left to do.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Watch: Dozens of orca whales swim past Galiano Island

Watch: Dozens of orca whales swim past Galiano Island

Busy Chickens and Soup.

Karl and Kirsten are here for the weekend. Karl has already made me delicious clam chowder with cream. And pasta he cooked for hours. Tim made bread and Kirsten has been her entertaining self while watching us and knitting like Madame Defarge. And then she got up and made us a fresh Apple Schnitz Pie with sour cream from her Mennonite grandmother's recipe.I just made an herb salad from my vegetable garden. Fresh perfectly ripe tomatoes, basil, chives and a garlicky buttermilk blueberry balsamic reduction dressing. After nearly a week of soft food!

They have come for retreat. Karl is sicker with cancer than I am. But he loves it here and is very enlivened. He is on an up week because his chemo was two weeks ago and I am on a down with a complete change in my treatment regime and surgery. We are hatching all kinds of plans for the artist retreats. He is a serious bodger, carver and glass person. And Scandinavian funny.

Tim is building a chicken coop with a stained glass window. More like a chicken resort with a wing for the little angora rabbits whose fur I am learning to spin. I might move in there.

Last night was a crazy storm. Everything a storm could be. We had frightened frogs climbing on the house and woke up to the deer sleeping all over the lawn. Even the feral cats showed up. There are lots of hiding places here.

There is a huge pod of orcas circling Mayne Island and Galiano Island. The goal today is catching them in action. Stay posted for pictures of whales and chicken coops.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Waking Up

Uhn... I am waking up to the lens end of a camera. Me? Mornings? Not so much...
Tim? Mornings? Full blown spark plug! He was very lucky he was armed with fresh coffee and the promise of the breakfast buffet with all the other overly indulgent wedding guests.

What? Where am I?

You are a very brave man!

Weekend In Victoria

Beautiful Ayzia and Paul saying their vows.
Beautiful English Inn in Victoria
Me dressed in my best. 4 days from my injection so a little shaky.
Went to a lovely wedding in Victoria this weekend. I was spoiled to a nice hotel, good food and most of the weekend with my spouse. One of the nicest weekends ever.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Inch By Inch - Setting Up The Studio At Sweethaven

Inch by inch the studio is being set up. It takes up the third floor of Sweethaven. Sweethaven is a big Queen Anne house which sits half way up Mount Parke on Mayne Island. It is on 6 1/2 acres and has plenty of places for me to explore inside and out. Right now my goal is to get back to work while I can. In a studio I just had dreams about only a few years ago.

The studio at William Street and small talk Gallery in Wells have now been dismantled and shipped over here. Setting it up has been challenging because I am in cancer treatment for Stage 4 breast cancer. But I am tenacious and hard to defeat. So this will happen like I want it to. I am inspired despite the chemical interference.

So every day I tackle a little more and a complete studio is now in sight. Tim set up my shelves and everyone who has visited has hauled boxes and trunks to the third floor. Be warned if you have any designs on a decent lunch!

I was up there for two hours today and in the library and it is coming together!
Lunch organically grown in the Sweethaven garden

Hive with 5 layers found on our beach journey

Filling up the drawers in the studio with my work.

Another drawer.


And even more.

Library is getting set up and organized.

I love having my books all in one place.
Shelves being loaded
Loaded and ready to roll
Lots of unpacking yet.
There are still more empty shelves.

My room with a view of the West Coast forest.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Island Life

Queen Victoria always makes an appearance
The environmental lobby was everywhere.
Clear direction of local youth.
Heavy police representation.
Loud and orderly.

Horse and riders. The sorrel paint bolted into the unexpecting crowd. No incidence reported.
Farmers on a red hot souped up tractor.
Lanterns and masks. A West Coast tradition. All photos taken by Tim Hurley Aug.17,2013.
The Mayne Island Fall Fair was in full glory today.

Fun. New friends, music and food.

My new friend Astrid won first prize for her Jamaican Patties.
And they were delicious.