Sunday, February 26, 2012

jiffy move

We are in the process of getting ready to move. Second time in less than a year. But oh, it will be worth it! Our current apartment in Charlottetown is just too darn small for us. If we both did all of our work on computers and weren't artists who made things and needed equipment for making, our current living space would be sufficient. But we do make things, and therefore, our space is not enough.

Spontaneously two weeks ago, Damien and I went to look at a duplex for rent two blocks away. Two stories, with a great third floor attic for Damien's painting studio, our own backyard, lots of storage, washer/dryer, room for both my looms (including my mammoth Cranbrook) is a rental that will satisfy all our house-living desires until we can save more money for buying our own home. And at pretty much the same price rent as we've already been paying.

The catch was that it was available March 1st and we hadn't given a month's notice on our own place....but, it all worked out and with the work of our great property manager, a new tenant was found for our place and we are moving in three days. The duplex is only two blocks away, so this move feels very different from our past three moves in the past four years, each move bringing us and our lives hundreds and hundreds of kilometres away (Charlottetown to Corner Brook, Corner Brook to Halifax, Halifax to Charlottetown).

In anticipation of the move, I worked last week to finish weaving my receding shoreline piece and get it off the loom so that my studio could be packed up. I'm really happy with my depiction of the extended stretch of coast and I'm looking forward to the next steps of embroidery and finishing which will be worked on in my new studio in our new home.....

All the inlay used for the land is my own 1-ply hand spun wool. The colours of the shore itself are, for the most part, natural dyed, while the green of the land was dyed in the fleece various shades of green by Belfast Mini Mills, which I spun with natural grey and then over-dyed in natural dyes (onion skins, alkynet roots) to vary the shades further. The brown/burgandy warp and the black weft used for the water area are 2/8 cotton.

Not sure if the piece will be hung vertically or horizontally yet...more time needs to be spent with it off the loom.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

receding shore

I've been thinking about weaving a new piece for a while now, in between embroidery, spinning and dyeing. A long horizontal piece, depicting a stretch of shoreline that is vulnerable to erosion. After the piece is off the loom, I plan on embroidering the coastal profiles of the shore in previous years, to demonstrate the impact of erosion.

Nice to be weaving again, even if it is on my small loom instead of my big one (the big one is dismantled in my parent's basement until I have the space for it). I do notice I need to take lots of breaks - my smaller loom is great for production, but is more physically demanding for this kind of inlay that involves a lot of hand work.

I am basing my weaving on this drawing, which is loosely based on the photograph below of eroded shoreline on the north shore of New Brunswick.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Textiles take time. Preparation of materials (spinning, warping, dyeing, counting, threading) takes time.

But in that preparation, there's space to further flesh out my idea in my head. As the weft gets dyed and the ikat ties are removed, as I wind my small skeins of hand-spun and over-dyed wool into balls for my inlay palette, the potential of all these separate elements combining becomes more concrete.

And so does a vision of how the piece will come together and make sense through being made.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

spinning out

For the last few days, I've spent parts of my days spinning wool. Finishing up my stash of dyed merino fleece from Belfast Mini Mills and combining it with a grey wool fleece into one ply. Also using up white wool fleece from New Brunswick that I was given for Christmas. Next I will over-dye all these mini-skeins of hand-spun yarn in different combos of natural dye.

I've been lucky enough to have been given a fantastic selection of natural dyestuff over the years: madder root, cochineal, alkanet, saffron, lac, and even indigo (I've only attempted the indigo twice so far), and my own collection of onion skins.

The thing is, I don't really have a dye kitchen in our apartment in Charlottetown. In the winter, the kitchen must be cleaned and taken over for a day of dyeing, and then cleaned again. In the summer, I can dye out on our back deck in the fresh air (though no outdoor sink is a bit tricky). I'm really missing our basement we had in our Halifax apartment: two giant porcelain sinks below a window with lots of afternoon light - perfect for the time-consuming process of natural dyeing and the necessity of letting things sit for days and not be in the way.

All this to say that the hand-spun one ply that I will dye (making due the my kitchen and living space as it is) will be used to continue my Islands project that was started last winter. The colours of wool will be my palette for crocheting my islands, matching the sand, cliffs, dunes, grass, forests, and bogs.