Thursday, June 30, 2011

summer has arrived

Summer is here. After a month of cold and rizzle, summer has arrived. If I want to go for a jog, I have to do it early in the morning. Weaving requires lots of breaks for hydration. Not that I'm complaining. I love the velvet evening breezes of hot summer days. And the light, oh the light. Now, for a first dip of the season in the ocean....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

production continues

This next week will be my last week of full time self-employment for the next three months. After a very long application process involving multiple exams and language texts, I was offered a position at Parks Canada last week. The offer was contingent on the results of my french oral assessment which came through on Monday - I received the score I needed for the position of Heritage Presenter. So, I will be be working full-time at Green Gables National Historic Site for a 15 week contract, until early October. My job will be to organize the heritage interpretation activities at the site: guided walks, demos, races and games for children. This will be my first "real" job outside of my weaving business and art practice for four years...the goal is to get a foot in the door with Parks Canada and be offered seasonal contracts for a few years and hopefully be offered a permanent seasonal position down the road, providing me with stable income for five months and while the rest of the year I can keep weaving and making art full-time. I'm very excited to see how the cultural and ecological environment I'll be working in will influence my art and my weaving.

In the meantime, I have four new shops that want to carry my scarves this summer (two on PEI, two in NL) and I am planning on doing at least two or three Christmas craft fairs come November and I will squeeze in some more weaving this next week, and do what I can between work and summertime fun to keep production rolling until I go back to full-time weaving in October.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Today I was lucky enough to take a full day workshop with Canadian artist Aganetha Dyck who is in Charlottetown for the opening of her exhibition Guest Workers at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. The workshop was pretty informal and centred around experimenting with various materials and processes and melted beeswax. I played with ripping paper, drawing, and linen stitching and then dipped each strand into the hot beeswax.

I also did a series of postcard sized dipped paper, lining them up to create a continuous horizon line. I like the texture of the layers of dips as well as the colour created by the increased opacity...incredibly three dimensional. And the yellow beeswax drips long the bottom are great.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

summer home

This past week, I found a home for my giant Cranbrook loom. For the past month and a half, it's been stacked up (in pieces) against our bedroom wall - there isn't enough space in my home studio for it and my small Leclerc loom. So, my friend Jessica Huthinson, a potter, is renting an old school house for the summer just outside of Charlottetown in North Milton.

Jessica and her partner have been busy sprucing the place up and painting the inside to get it ready to open as a fine craft shop this summer. Because of agricultural zoning restrictions, the shop can only be 40% retail and has to be 60% studio. Jessica will have her pottery equipment out there, but there is still lots of space and she's happy to offer up the space for me and my Cranbrook loom. I will also sell my scarves in the shop.

I stopped in the have a look at the school house on Sunday while I drove out to my parents' new house - it's conveniently on the way....So wonderful, a perfect summer home for my loom. Hopefully I will set it up out there in early July. My Cranbrook loom is primarily used for my art practice and I've just really begun to explore the possibilities of 8 harnesses in the past year while I had it set up at North Pocket Studio in Halifax. I plan on making the time to go out once a week to weave. It's so much better having it set-up than not, even if it's only until October.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

day for fathers

My parents sold their house of 16 years in downtown Charlottetown and moved to the country. Buffalo Road to be precise. Up towards Rustico and PEI's north shore. This is their new house above, with lilacs blooming. It's nestled on about 2 acres of land and it is very beautiful. They have a huge wrap around deck, surrounded by flowering trees and bushes.

When I was out visiting last weekend, the lilacs were so abundant and fragrant.

Honeysuckles in the evening sunlight.

Bleeding hearts in all their glory.

These are some of my dad's honeybees at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum. My father is the beekeeping technician for an installation of a live beehive in the gallery for an exhibition of work by Canadian artist Aganetha Dyck. The beehive is attached to a plexiglass case containing a lobster trap - the idea being that the bees will construct honeycomb on the trap during the three months in the gallery. There is also a long plexiglass tube that reaches up towards the ceiling of the gallery and out a window so the bees can fly outside and collect pollen. My dad is a technical apiary wizard for managing all the logistics of this project.....

And my wonderful papa. I'm going to head out to the Buffalo Road "homestead" this afternoon for a father's day visit.

Friday, June 17, 2011

blanket landscapes

Candice Tarnowski is a Canadian artist and conservator based in Montreal. She's in Charlottetown this weekend for the installation of her piece A Bed's Been Made Up For You at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. Her work will be presented in the five glass concourse display cases. Several of the cases will include the artist's drawings and other two dimensional work, but others will feature her signature strategy of layering blankets to form visually-striking stacks that resemble landscapes or geological strata. The blankets she's using are from her own collection, as well as loans from the PEI Museums and Archives and MacAusland's Woolen Mill.

I got the chance to meet Candice yesterday while I was tagging along with a group of intro weaving students from NSCAD - they were brought over to PEI for a field trip to Belfast Mini Mills, Confed Gallery and McAusland's Woolen Mill by my former Textile professors Lesley Armstrong and Frances Dorsey. I also went to her artist talk last night where we both realized we had met before at the Handmade Assembly conference in Sackville, NB back in early April (the textile/craft community in Canada is small). Her landscape installations have really struck a chord in my imagination: I too have contemplated the beauty of folded blankets and their strong relationship to geological strata. It's interesting to think about the creation of these landscapes as a maker of cloth, not only a collector....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

this town is small

Since moving back to PEI a month and a half ago, Damien and I instantly got involved with a new artist run organization here in Charlottetown, called this town is small. Started by artist Becka Viau, Sobey's long list contender (first Island artist ever) and NSCAD alumni, this town is small is revitalizing the arts community on this little Island. One of the inititatives that Damien and I are helping out with is the creation of the Small Town Print Shop which will open next weekend. With an exclusive focus on screen printing, the Small Town Print Studio will provide affordable public access to equipment and facilitate the sharing of knowledge through skill-building workshops and collaborative projects. And one of the first projects will be to screen print t-shirts designed by local artists. The submission deadline is today, and Damien and I both created designs.
Here are my two initial drawings for the two t-shirt designs I submitted. The dots above refer to the framework of any community, thinking about the connecting of dots leading to connections and creation.
This drawing is based on a photograph of a crazy quilt made on PEI in 1930. Crazy quilts were traditonally a product of rural life, a way to make use of clothing that had been worn until all that could be selveged were small odd-shaped scraps of cloth. I loved how the lines of this particular quilt are so reminiscent of aerial views of town clusters.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

new shop, new order

This morning I'm gathering up a consignment order of scarves for a new shop in Bonavista, Newfoundland called Neil's Yard. The owner, Ruth, found me and my work through the Craft Council of NL Shop in St. John's and has chosen to only carry work that has been juried by the Craft Council. I'm sending her a selection of Echo and narrow Wave scarves to start off.

It always takes longer to put an order together than I think it will: tagging, invoicing, and then packing it all up and carting it to the post office. Really happy to have a new shop carrying my work, I've been mostly focusing on selling through craft fairs for the past year or so. And, Ruth is offering one the best consignment split around: 66% of the retail price goes to the artist, 34% to the shop! Anything above 55 - 60% is almost unheard of......

Monday, June 13, 2011

exploring PEI part 1

Friday afternoon we took a drive up towards the north shore and Malpeque Bay area of PEI with our friend Matt. The wind was chilly but the world was sunny and bright and the rolling hills looked so lush and fertile. We stopped into St. Mary's Church in Indian River, a large wooden church famous for its beauty and incredible accoustics. Each summer, the Indian River Festival takes place there, a series of musical concerts held in the church. Damien and I had never been there before and we were lucky enough to find the church open to us.

The attention to detail in the woodwork is incredible, including the simple herringbone patterning of the balcony (I can't help but pick out woven patterns applied to architecture).

The ceiling blew me away. All geometric arches made of glowing amber coloured wood.

Even the ceilings of the side areas (for lack of a more appropriate term) were vaulted with geometric woodwork.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

slow spring

Spring is late and slow this year on the east coast of Canada. The majority of days are gray and the temperature has been averaging 12 degrees celsius. But there are signs that summer is here, despite the chilly, overcast air. The trees have come out in full lush leaves, the dandilions have turned to seed and the world is very green. The photo above was taken of our backyard soon after we moved in at the beginning of May.

This is our backyard right now, early June. Happy to see the tree I suspected was dead actually has quite a few leaves.

And, in between my studying for my french exams which take place this Friday (for a position with Parks Canada), I managed to dye the last eight scarves in my small production run of narrow Wave scarves.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Devonshire Hunting Tapestries: depiction of cloth

"The production and sale of tapestries was part of the immensely important and complex medieval textile trade. In addition to its economic importance, the textile industry was a potent political force, both nationally and internationally. At the top of the market, because relatively few luxury goods were available, fine textiles, including woven silks, velvets and tapestries, had a significance and cachet which is almost unimaginable today." (Medieval Life and Leisure in the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, by Linda Woolley, V & A Publications, 2002.

I returned back to PEI from my week-long trip to London at the end of last week. There for a friend's wedding, I managed to get a bad cold soon after the wedding activities were over. My big plans to traipse all over London visiting many galleries was reduced to a single, day-long trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum. This was a wonderful day and I was lucky enough to re-unite with an old friend who has been living in London for the past five years, and we got to spend the day together exploring the museum. The irony was that of all the permanent exhibits on display at the V and A, it was the textiles exhibit that was closed for renovations. But, the tapestry exhibit was open and it blew my mind. The Devonshire Hunting Tapestries are a series of four gigantic wool tapestries made during the 15th Century, the only hunting tapestries from that era to survive. There are magical, complex narratives with plenty of detail about the hunting activities of princes and noblemen in the later Middle Ages as well as the medieval fashion of the time.

I was particularly compelled by the depictions of cloth in the tapestries. There's something very exciting to me about the pictorial depiction of cloth using a weaving technique which is creating cloth itself. The delicate vertical cross hatching to create the illusion of shade in the folds of a dress of a sleeve took my breath away. I was allowed to take photos and I took almost fifty, mostly abstracted close-ups of hemlines, skirts, jackets, and hats. I also bought the book quoted above, a treasure trove of information about these masterpieces from another time.

I think I might like to start off by doing a series of drawings based on some of these photos, playing off the abstracted, fluid qualities of the images and see how references to landscapes emerge...landscape as luxury....