Monday, August 31, 2009

pickled beans

We didn't grow enough beans in our little vegetable garden this year to make a batch of pickled beans. So on Saturday morning, Damien and I headed to the Halifax Farmer's Market to stock up on yellow and green string beans. I then spent the afternoon following my mother's recipe for spicy pickled beans - my first experience pickling anything ever! I know we're supposed to wait and let the beans age, but we couldn't help ourselves and cracked open a jar to have with supper last night. By the end of the evening, the bottle was empty...that means we only have nine jars left! I might have to do some more pickling this week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

cuff/bracelet/wonder woman accessory

I set an assignment for myself this week as the fall craft fair season approaches: design and create a handwoven "product" that I can retail for under $25 and then throw it into production. With my least expensive scarf line starting at $60, I have been in need of a "bread and butter" production item for a while. I wanted to work with a warp plan that I already have figured out for my line of Echo scarves to reduce the time spent re-threading the loom. The handwoven cloth created for my Echo scarves is perfect for a cuff/bracelet: finished cloth is 3.5" selvedge to selvedge, it is a perfect balance of raw silk and cotton, and the over dyeing allows me to constantly create new palettes of colour for each one. After debating the different closures I could use and the hand labour involved in each (buttons or snaps involve time consuming hand sewing), my mom suggested velcro that I could stitch on while I machine stitch the hems. Cutting handwoven cloth is has always been a hard thing for me to do (I have always designed pieces that are complete from warp finishing to warp finishing, using no sewing), but I think in this case it is worth it. So, voila! My first prototype....I wore it last night and kept glancing down all evening to admire it. And for those asking: YES, they will be for sale at Halifax Crafters Art Harvest (Sept. 12-13), the St. John's Fine Craft and Design Fair (Nov. 4-8), and the Toronto One of a Kind Show (Nov. 26 - Dec. 6).

The air has shifted the last few days, and fall is here. I must say, I love this time of year. It feels like New Year, and the crisper breeze is full of change and optimism and a renewed dedication to working hard and learning new things.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

purple or blue?

Lately I have been obsessed with a shade of blue that is close to purple. It is a colour that is hard to capture in photographs and depending on the light can take on a bluer or purpler tinge. It is often found in nature, particularly deep purple flowers, and brings to mind midnight velvet skies and fairy tales.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

water ways

Two more pieces done. I will take the weaving of Rice Point home to PEI with me this weekend and do the finishing work (knotting warp ends, washing). Very happy with both. An interesting project would be to map and weave all the coastal areas I have lived (and they are all coastal!), some more complicated than others to render in woven cloth, but the effect is worth it....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

almost vacation

Damien and I head home to PEI for 9 days on Friday. Time to spend with family and friends in the beautiful August landscape of the Island. I'm bringing some of my work with me so I can spend time at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery planning out the logistics of my "Home Terrain" exhibition for November with the curator. Yesterday I started weaving what might be my last piece for the the exhibition, an aerial image of Rice Point, the rural community along PEI's south shore where I grew up from ages 10-17. This is an important place in my own personal narrative about Atlantic landscape and my relationship to the shore. I spent so much time exploring the beach, the back fields and the marshes of Rice Point when I was growing up and the space still looms large in my imagination. And the line of the shore itself is quite beautiful.

Once September starts, I will devote myself to scarf production, and I just decided that I could pull off participation in the Halifax Crafters' September show and sale after deciding not to do it back in July because I thought I wouldn't have enough scarf inventory. It is a great group of craftspeople and artists and I have been helping a little to organize this show. It is a very affordable show to do, lots of fun and even without lots of sales, it think it's a good move to give Marshall Arts some exposure in my current home city of Halifax. Above is a photo of the beautiful poster for the show, designed by my lovely friend and fellow weaver, Joanna Close. I'm happy I changed my mind about participating and looking forward to some creative entrepreneurship and community.

Monday, August 10, 2009

looking out to sea

I am finished the inlay work on my ocean weaving. Excited to take it off the loom and plan some more work about the ocean and shoreline. I feel like I've stumbled onto something and I simply have to follow, piece by piece. And what about that sky, eh? As we get into August, I am reminded why this is one of my favourite times of year: the amazing three dimensional clouds and vivid skies are so expansive and the air is full of possibility.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

ocean weaving

This week I felt like I was stumbling a bit after the completion of my blanket. A little deflated, I found it hard to focus. An eczema flare up on my hands, arms, legs and feet didn't help matters - it's difficult to concentrate and function, let alone feel inspired when my skin is so irritated and itchy. I took yesterday afternoon off, soothed my skin in a bath and slept. It seems to have helped a great deal and today I feel better and excited about my work again.

Taking a rest also gave me the chance to contemplate without acting, and I realized that even though much of my recent work has to do with the landscape of Atlantic Canada, I haven't actually done any pieces about the ocean that surrounds and shapes the geography we live in. To me, the feeling of home has always had to do with the ocean: the salty fresh smell on the wind, the calming, meditative quality of an endless horizon, the sound and rhythm of waves crashing or gentle lapping, the way the colour of the water changes with the day and the light, the incredible treasures it can bring in with the tide, its mysterious power that can create, sustain or destroy life. I started this piece today, and am happy to fill the frame completely with a receding seascape. The blue of the ocean is dyed with natural indigo on raw silk. I'm trying to capture the feeling of looking out and watching the endless ocean. I find as I'm weaving, that calm ocean feeling is washing over me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I don't feel like this week has been particularly productive in the art-making department. My work seems to be moving slow and I feel distracted by other things. Our cat Luigi has been sick and yesterday's vet bill was steep. Of course this prompts me to think about ways to bring in a bit more income to make life easier financially, and so I turn to my scarves after putting them aside at the end of June. I have been completely neglecting my Etsy Shop for the past month and a half, but today I resolved to spend the afternoon taking photos of some scarves I have in stock and posting them to my shop in an effort to be proactive and sooth a sense of unease I have about the cost of living in a more expensive city. I really like this shot above....the pink is so rich and reminds me of my dear Corner Brook friend Barb Hunt (she LOVES pink).

of bees and wasps and structural homes

My father, who is a beekeeper in Charlottetown PEI, sent me these great photos this morning of his bees swarming high up on a tree. He also recently discovered a wasps' nest built under the bottom of the garden cart during the course of this summer - an amazing feat of structure and beauty to create a communal home. Social insects do amazing things when they work together.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

rilla and kyla's weekend adventure

My dear friend Kyla is leaving Halifax in September to do her Master's degree at the London School of Economics in the UK. She's one smart cookie and she'll be studying climate change risk-management policy. Her and I got the chance to have a little getaway this past weekend. We went to Upper Economy on the Minas Basin (part of the Bay of Fundy where they have some of the highest tides in the world) and stayed at a wonderful cottage set back from the shore. We spent the evening on the beach, on the mud flats, collecting stones, drinking some beer and enjoying the summer evening together. The owners of the cottages have these two amazing Burmese dogs that would visit from cottage to cottage and were so friendly, beautiful and well-trained. That's Kyla (above) getting up close and cuddly with one of them...

Saturday, August 1, 2009