Tuesday, January 31, 2012

art cloth text

I was just taking a break from spinning wool for my Islands project, and checked facebook. There on my homepage was a link from Mackenzie Frere to his blog, Art Cloth Text, and a wonderful post about my recent work, specifically my map of Charlottetown.

It's so insightful to read other people's (especially other artists) impressions of my work...two sentences of Mackenzie's in particular really resonate for me:

"The embroidered emphasis of a small city’s vulnerability on the edge of the water give this woven map a compelling emotional depth."

"While both weaving and embroidery offer the artist a degree of control over pattern and image, her subject is total loss of control to unpredictable, natural forces."

I met Mackenzie in my last year of my BFA at NSCAD University in Halifax, circa 2003. He was doing his MFA and I was very taken with his work, particularly his exploration of ikat natural dyeing - a beautiful simplicity and dedication to material and process. I've held him up in my mind's eye of weaving mentors ever since. He is now an instructor in the Fibres Department at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

dreams of Sweden

Since Monday, I've been working diligently on an application for the W. B. Brucebo Art Foundation Travel Scholarship. The Brucebo Foundation offers two scholarships (or fellowships) a year: one is a residency on the Swedish island of Gotland, and the other is a European fine art travel scholarship. The travel scholarship can encompass fine art research anywhere in Europe, but I've chosen to focus on Sweden.

Since being exposed to scandinavian textiles at NSCAD University, I have had a desire to travel to Sweden and study and learn about their textile traditions. The integration of art, design and craft is well known as being a real strength of Sweden's culture. Textile artists, and tapestry artists in particular, are very celebrated. Needless to say, I need to visit this country!

My research proposal centers around the intersection where Swedish textile traditions and contemporary culture come together. Focusing on hand-weaving and folk art traditions, I'll explore the influence of cultural textiles on Sweden's art and design practices through my travels.

I hope to visit a folk school (a very strong tradition in Scandinavia), university textile departments, galleries and museums, as well as commercial production businesses and textile mills. I'm really interested in the powerful role material culture plays in shaping our sense of history and community, and how material traditions are re-interpreted to determine their continuity into the future.

Fingers and toes crossed!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


With the embroidery of my woven map of Charlottetown's vulnerable waterfront, I have started to re-visit other woven works I've completed in the past two years. I feel the embroidery of the handwoven image and cloth brings a whole other depth and strength to the pieces. The map of Charlottetown is finished for now: all the streets of downtown have been overlaid, the perimeters of the flood zone have been re-emphasized and the motion of the sea onto the land has been indicated with vertical blue arrows.

After washing the map last night (this always brings the cloth together, making it something whole as opposed to various elements forced together), I took a look at a piece I wove in Halifax almost two years ago. It is a depiction of Bottle Cove, a magical piece of coast on the west coast of Newfoundland. When I wove the piece, I emphasized the parts of the shore where I had visited and/or thought of as particularly magical in yellows.

So last night, while perched cross-legged on the couch with an embroidery hoop, I used a chain stitch to draw a a line along the coast where the water meets the land. I have never been satisfied with the piece and am excited at my start at embellishing the coastal abstraction with embroidered mapping.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

this town is small and close to the water

This week I've started re-visiting a woven piece I completed over the summer. The piece is based on a map of Charlottetown showing the areas of the waterfront that are vulnerable to potential flooding due to predicted sea level rises (the woven red areas).

I wove the piece (very slowly on my days off from Parks Canada) on my big Cranbrook loom when it was at the school house in North Milton between July and the end of October.

This week, I've been embroidering into the woven cloth, adding the streets and accurate shoreline, building up the map-like elements.

The more I add, the happier I am with it and the more ideas flow....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

more scarves for the shop

Just listed some more scarves in my Etsy shop today...trying to fill the shelves with stock!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

scarves for wintertime

Yesterday I got around to photographing some of my scarf inventory for my Etsy shop. Photographing, uploading and editing the photos, and then listing the item in my shop takes a lot of time, but I managed to get 6 new scarves listed. It was my first time photographing my scarves inside our Charlottetown apartment, but the soft winter light pouring in our living room bay windows was perfect. The scarf you see here is a Stream Scarf in Winter Dusk, and it is now for sale in my Etsy shop. Bit by bit, I hope to get more of my inventory photographed and listed in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

After two weeks of socializing, sleeping in late (and staying up late), reading, watching movies, going for wintry walks - I'm ready to get back into a routine. I'm ready to make art and research and weave away the winter.

Just before Christmas, I received a book about Swedish rep weaves by Laila Lundell...this was a gift ordered for myself to simultaneously satisfy my curiosity about Swedish weaving traditions and rep weave rugs. My first rug project is on the loom (see photos above): a long rug for our bedroom to warm feet when we hop in and out of bed. Rep weave is a simple plain weave structure, the magic occurs because of the close sett of the warp threads binding in the thicker weft, while a thin weft allows for repeat treadling (like in overshot). My warp is made up of natural linen and blue cotton, my weft is three strands of thick wool.

This is one of my favourite photos from the Rep Weave book: love the blues and the combination of the rug and wall hanging....my only question: where's all the bedroom clutter (ie. books and clothes on the floor)??

I also manged to finish up a custom order I received in December at Halifax Crafters' (the aqua scarf in the middle is for Heidi).

And today, four back issues of Selvedge magazine arrive in my mailbox. I ordered these over a month ago to improve my textile library, keep abreast of contemporary fibre art, thought, and design, and basically spark my imagination as I settle into a productive winter.