Sunday, January 31, 2010

stand in the place where you live

It has been crisp and cold in Halifax the last few days, but brilliantly sunny. The sky is a bright blue and there is lots of bright white snow. I often walk up and down nearby Chebucto Road, past the Maritime Music Conservatory building - what used to be the infirmary during the 1917 Halifax Explosion. It's a huge beautiful brick building with big windows.

I'm always reminded how much I love my neighborhood in this little city: every ten paces there is a five story tree - a canopy of green in the summer and arterial branches bare against the winter sky; old houses, typical of maritime architecture, with storm porches, wooden siding and stone foundations.

Friday, January 29, 2010

January colours

These are the scarves I've made this month, minus a few custom orders and the six scarves that I will finish weaving today. Blues, purples, pinks, reds. Winter sunset colours...all these Wave scarves are available in my etsy shop.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I love sunlight and colour in my studio in the morning

These Wave scarves will be for sale later today in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

labour in Toronto

A group exhibition called Laborious opened in Toronto on Friday January 22. Curated by fellow NSCAD alumni Penney Burden, the exhibit showcases 9 Canadian textile-based artists, including me. It takes place at Harbourfront Centre on Toronto's waterfront. Each artist was given a vitrine - a recessed glass case - to display their work. I wasn't able to be there for the installation and opening (big thanks to Penney for all her hard work), and I'm excited to see the photos when they come my way....I'll post them here!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

get outside

Yesterday, I decided it was time to wander. To get out of the studio and do some aimless wandering. I had ambitions to photograph some of Halifax's north end houses - I always take note of the great colour combinations and juxtapositions of the paint jobs for inspiration, but never have my camera. Alas, my battery ran out after just a couple of snaps. Another time I will have to take more.....

When I was downtown, I stopped into some clothing stores and tried on some winter blowout sale items. I found one of the nicest dresses I've ever seen. I think it is the colour combo that gets me: royal blue and fire engine red. The size the shop had was too small, so I checked out the website and found the dress there. It is made by an American company called Tulle. Thick, deep blue cotton canvas with bright red trim in a lighter cotton, empire waist with pockets. A perfect dress for winter.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


What has happened and is still happening in Haiti is heart-wrenching and devastating. Everyday since last Tuesday I have been watching the news and listening to the accounts on the radio. It is a nightmare of tragic proportions. I don't know how or when or if ever a people can recover from such destruction and horror. I am linking to the song Haiti by Montreal band Arcade Fire, the music put to footage from Haiti at a time before the earthquake - not to say that life was ever easy or idyllic there, but to maybe give some hope towards thoughts of a happier future. I have had this song running through my head for the last week.....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

fun times with numbers

Yesterday and today I decided to finally tackle my book-keeping from 2009. Piles and piles of receipts to be sorted and added up into the different categories that the government wants to see when I file my income tax. So, I'm spread out in the new space of my studio, file folders and envelopes and receipts scattered in an organized chaos. I have been putting this task off, but I must admit I enjoy book-keeping in a satisfying, dorky sort of way. The only thing is, it doesn't really provide stimulating images to post to my here's a couple more new Wave scarves, now for sale on my Etsy shop.

....and yes, that is me modelling my own scarves. I am available, affordable and easy to schedule - and real live human instead of a mannequn.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

etsy time

My on-line Etsy shop is one of those things that needs consistent attention. Especially in the winter months when wholesale orders have slowed down to a stand-still and the craft fair season is another 10 months or so away. I have noticed that there is a direct correlation on my Etsy shop between how much time I put into it and sales. The more attention I give it - re-listing items daily, adding new items weekly - the more often I attract customers. Yesterday and today I finally got around to photographing and listing my Wave scarves woven since returning to my studio this New Year. It's nice to see my shop filling up - now I just have to keep it up!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I have almost always twisted the warp ends on my scarves, creating a 4 inch plyed fringe at either end of the scarf. A twisted fringe has movement and a dangly decorative effect, and I have honestly never really questioned my choice to finish my scarves in this way.

This week I completed a custom order for Shawn in London, Ontario. A black and grey wide Wave scarf for her boyfriend (above, on the left). She asked if I could make the scarf with little or no fringe, maybe for a more "masculine" look. I decided to do a simple hem stitch while the scarf was on the loom and then trim down the warp threads. A hem stitch works to secure the warp and weft threads so the weave won't unravel once the piece is removed from the loom, the same theory behind all fringe finishing techniques.

I must admit I am very impressed by the effect of the hem-stitched fringe: it is classy, understated, and very secure, allowing for less chance of warp or weft threads being pulled through wear and tear. It takes the same amount of time as twisting a fringe, and it uses less materials.......I know a hem-stitched fringe wouldn't work for all my scarf styles, but for the Wave scarf it may be a good evolution.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Two beautiful things I have found in the past weeks: a blue, handwoven, cotton blanket with inlayed birds found at Value Village; an antique hook for hanging your coat and hat on, found at Renovators Resources (a fantastic business that salvages moldings, doors, windows and hardware from Nova Scotia heritage homes about to be demolished). I want to keep adding to my hooks and build up a collection, with the eventual intention of using them for scarf display.

Friday, January 15, 2010

piles in progress

The last week and a half I've been slowly settling back into my studio routine. As I make time to focus on exhibition ambitions and general studio/business organization, my production levels have slowed down a bit in comparison with the frantic pace of the autumn months. Yesterday I dyed my first batch of scarves since the start of the new year. Two of these are custom orders, and the rest will be added to my inventory and posted on Etsy. I LOVE the colour of the scarf on top of this pile: a rich purple blue, deep and velvety. These are all wide Wave scarves, handwoven from raw silk and cotton.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Joanna and I

My friend and fellow textile artist and weaver, Joanna Close and I have been talking about doing an exhibition together since last winter. Our work has evolved in a similar direction, especially our woven work. With a focus on Atlantic landscape and the content that builds these landscape images, we are both exploring ideas of home and community. Joanna recently completed a body of work called "a Family of Blankets" where she wove a blanket for each member of her immediate family, each blanket depicting an aspect of the environment familiar and evocative to that family member. Pictured above is the piece Stephen, handwoven, hand-dyed, wool and other fine wool fibres.

Our plan for doing an exhibition together has focused on submitting a proposal to St. Mary's University Art Gallery here in Halifax. The gallery's director/curator, Robin Metcalf is very keen on craft-based artwork, and it is a prominent gallery in the Atlantic provinces. This morning I called Robin to introduce myself and get the ball rolling on putting our exhibition proposal together. As is the case with most public galleries, exhibitions are already scheduled up until now is the time to start making plans. I would like to create more work focussed on mapping shorelines, an idea which I started to explore in Rice Point (pictured above). Robin Metcalf suggeted getting in touch with St. Mary's University geography department as a way to bring in new tools and opportunities for research and development in our work - an exciting prospect for me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

toronto revisited, scarf for Florence

When I was in Toronto this past fall for the One of a Kind Show, I stayed with my cousin Kim, her husband Richard and their young daughters Jessie and Gemma. When I was there in 2008, I stayed with them as well. Because the hours of the show are so long, I would usually only get to see Jessie and Gemma in the mornings while having breakfast. In 2008 and 2009, the whole family would come to the show on one of the weekends and the girls would hang out with me for a while in my booth. The two of them would spend the whole week prior to their One of a Kind visit deciding which animals they were going to get painted on their faces (the kids' room offers face painting). Last week, my cousin Kim sent me some wonderful photos from both years at the One of a Kind and I love this one with Jessie, Gemma and I in my booth. This is from 2008 and Jessie and Gemma are a cheetah and a leopard repectively.

I also wanted to post this photo of a custom scarf in progress. This is a scarf for Florence, a lovely woman who ordered a scarf from me at the One of a Kind Show. She wanted a palette of rich plums, heathers, and a touch of dijon. After it's removed from the loom, the scarf will be dyed to only colour the white silk warp stripes, leaving the other shades of colour (cotton) untouched.

Monday, January 11, 2010

studio collections

The sunlight in my studio this Monday morning is beautiful. It made me notice all the collections of materials, tools and images in my space.

- my pile of coloured 2/8 cotton, down the the last little bits on the cardboard spools;

my little tapestry tools I use for inlay work tucked into a glass jar;

and my knitting needles.

Interesting how my images (two postcards from my friend Kyla in London, UK) also depict collections of a sort.

Friday, January 8, 2010

blue is the colour

This year, my new wide Wave scarf design was a big hit, and I actually sold out of the style at the One of a Kind Show, as well as receiving custom orders for five more, three of which I'm still working on. I started off yesterday with a blue and white Wave scarf warp. In the warp, the two tones of blue are cotton and the white is raw silk (which will be dyed a sky blue after the scarf is off the loom) and the weft is a third tone of blue in cotton. This scarf is for Enza - beautiful name - a woman who placed an order at the Toronto One of a Kind Show. Blue was very very popular this year, especially rich moody blues that veered towards violet.

Including Enza's blue scarf, I've got four custom orders to do in the next weeks. Three Wave scarves and one Seaweed scarf. Because I never weave just one scarf at a time if I can help it, I've measured out warps long enough to weave four scarves in a row in the colour palettes of each of the custom orders. This means that for each custom scarf I'll be weaving, there will be three others woven in the same colour, even though I only have 4 custom orders to fill, the long warps enable me to weave 16 scarves, 12 of which will go into building up my stock.

And I am really enjoying weaving in my "new" studio, my loom right next to the window, with a view of the street and park.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

before and after

I did it! What a difference 24 hours makes. Yesterday I dismantled my giant Cranbrook loom (pictured below in the chaotic "before" picture) and carried each heavy solid maple piece down to the basement for storage. I cleaned my studio, purged, and rearranged. I put my little Leclerc right next to the window and moved it out of the tiny corner it has been squished into for the last eight months. I have floor space, I have breathing space and I am so excited to work in my studio now! I could even have a dance party in there now if I wanted to.....

Before and after from hallway (two images above)

Before and after from french doors to living room (two images above)

the view from my loom's new position. Look at the light - look at the space! A little bit more organizing to do in the studio, but so much more stepping over piles inside a maze of looms.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

looking forward

Well, today is the day. After a much enjoyed vacation, today is the day I get back to work and into my studio. First up is a to do list for the coming season. The usual stuff: tackling my bookkeeping for 2009; setting a schedule to get some custom order scarves done in the next weeks.

And then there is the bigger stuff: I think I've decided to dismantle my giant Cranbrook loom for the time being. It dominates my studio in a big way, making the small room crowded. I love this machine, but it doesn't get used nearly as much as my little Leclerc loom (gotta pay the bills) and it takes up 75% of my studio. It can always be put back together when I got a stretch of larger work and/or art to make, or when my friend Joanna and I get our communal Halifax textile studio up and going. But, I realized yesterday, a cluttered studio clutters my mind and pushes me easily into feeling overwhelmed. A new year, a new space. And this means I will be able to have my little Leclerc by the window.....

Some other big stuff on my agenda this winter: use my current Home Terrain exhibition (up at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown PEI until Feb. 28) as a springborad for more shows. I would love to work with the gallery and curator to get this exhibition to travel to other public galleries in the Atlantic provinces and beyond - I think it is relevant and appealing in so many ways. I also want to work with my friend Joanna Close to put a 2-person exhibition proposal together for St. Mary's University Art Gallery here in Halifax. Apply for grants (maybe even try the Canada Council again), become a juried member of the Nova Scotia Designer Craft Council as well as the New Brunswick and PEI Craft Councils. On the scarf front, I would really like to set myself a goal of establishing at least one wholesale client outside of Atlantic Canada - if anyone out there has suggestions for shops, please let me know!

I find winter is a time of collecting and storing up for the busier summer and fall seasons. A time to re-assess and re-prioritize after the marathon of the fall. I'm exctited for this new year and all the potential it brings with it.