Tuesday, November 12, 2013

fall season

It's been a busy few weeks as October turns into November.  I drove to Sackville New Brunswick (the little town that could) to attend the Heart and Pocket Review as part of the Handmade Assembly conference. Organized by Struts Artist Run Centre and the Owens Gallery (Mt. Allison University), Handmade Assembly is the third annual conference all about craft in contemporary art practice.

I've visited Sackville many times, but have never walked the Waterfowl Park trail in the center of town: a wooden boardwalk winding its way over the Tantramar Marsh.  This visit I had some time to kill when I arrived on a sunny Friday afternoon, and was blown away by the beauty of this trail.

As part of Handmade assembly, the Heart and Pocket Review was a one day craft fair held at the Royal Canadian Legion, and all I have to say is thank you Sackville!!  I did the same show two and a half years ago and the fine folks of Sackville were very supportive then, but this time the fair far exceeded my expectations - in fact once I was home and back in my studio, I had to chain myself to my loom (not literally) to make sure I would have enough inventory for my next show two weeks later.  Thank you to everyone who came out in Sackville, bought a scarf, a pouch, a tea towel or a baby blanket and gave me such positive feedback about my work.  I will see you in Sackville next year....

I also had the chance to test drive a new booth set-up.  I realized back in September that all three shows I am doing this fall do not supply pole and drapes.  Since 2007, my booth set-up has depended upon the pole and drape system to suspend my display racks.  I was worried that I was going to have to sacrifice a precious week of weaving time to designing and building a new booth display.  But, a week before I was heading to Sackville, I had a stroke of luck.  We were checking out the second-hand furniture at our local Habitat for Humanity store, and we discovered a cardboard box full of what looked like giant Tinker Toys:  lots and lot of thick wooden dowels and wooden balls with drilled holes, as well as masonite shelves painted white.  Damien was thinking "sculpture", and I was thinking "multi-configurable booth display".  I used it on a table top in Sackville and it worked great - lots of space for hanging my scarves and shelves for surface display.

While in Sackville, I stayed with the parents of Joanna Close, a fellow textile artist and good friend who lives in Halifax and who came up for the show along with Kat Frick Miller, an artist and illustrator living in Lunenburg, NS and also a fellow Halifax Crafter.  Ellen and David Close live outside of Moncton and they took very good care of us - we were very well fed.  Joanna has moved away from production weaving and is focusing her efforts these days on illustration, producing beautiful watercolour cards...the ones pictured above feature the provincial flowers of all the provinces in Canada.

The fair was made up of a variety of craftspeople, some just starting out and trying out different materials and techniques.  I was very taken by this knitted red fox sculpture one of the other vendors had on display.

When I returned to PEI from Sackville on a rainy Sunday afternoon, we attended an artist talk by Canadian ceramic superstar Jack Sures at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery.  He has an incredible retrospective exhibition there called Tactile Desires.  His sense of play and love of materials was contagious and I came away from the talk re-invigorated to play within the materiality and processes of my own textile medium.
One way to play and produce more product for upcoming craft fairs was weft ikat scarves.  I have been doing warp ikat scarves for a while now, but weft ikat seemed to require a little more planning and mathematical calculations.  So, I decided to just do a small production run of eight scarves to get a sense of the work required to produced weft patterned ikat.  To make the process more efficient, I think I need to design and build a skein winder adjustable by small increments...this will take some research! 
In the meantime, I produced eight weft ikat scarves in raw silk, cotton and wool.  The weft is the raw silk, and the yarn has been ikat dyed to create unique patterning such as the elongated repeat diamonds in the photos below.

This past weekend, I did the PEI Crafts Council Christmas Fair.  I got to try out my new booth set-up on the floor this time and it worked great:  I loved the multi-levels I can create and I was very happy that my lamps were able to clamp onto the round wooden dowels.  I had a great spot in Memorial Hall at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, lots of natural light.  A big thank to to the Crafts Council for organizing a great show, and thank you to everyone who bought a Marshall Arts textile.

All weekend at the PEI Crafts Council Fair, I was sitting across the the Pembroke Farms booth.  Pembroke Farms is a sheep farm run by Lorna and Brian McMaster outside Murray Harbour, PEI.  They have all sorts of beautiful wool products, including full sheepskins from their own breed of sheep (Pembroke breed).  On the last day of the fair, I decided I needed to buy one as a gift for our school house: a one of a kind extra large, curly, Pembroke sheepskin.  Perfect for curling up on in front of the wood stove, something we will have forever...our cat Luigi seems to love it too.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

country living

Last week I finished my seasonal work with Parks Canada. I'm adjusting well to country life: yoga, weaving, walking, preparing for upcoming craft fairs.  I've been looking forward to this stretch of time. 

I'll be doing three small craft fairs this fall - only doing shows within Maritime driving distance.  This weekend I head to Sackville NB to sell my wares at the Heart and Pocket Revue, part of a Handmade Assembly, a great little conference organized by Struts Artist RunCentre and Owens Art Gallery.

I often takes walks down Halliday's Road, about a 25 minute walk from our house.  The end of the road leads steeply down to a shore where there used to be a wharf and ferry service to Charlottetown.

 The difference of the north shore.

 Woven bird's nest.  Maybe hummingbird?

And we got our woodstove delivered last Friday and hooked it up over the weekend.  It feels like a real milestone in our school house renovation adventure.  The joy and comfort of wood heat is extraordinary as we head into our first winter here after a year and a half of work.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

easy like a sunday morning

It has been a very long hiatus from my blog.  Not on purpose, but because time started to pass and then it became harder and harder to find the right way and the right time to re-engage with this blog which has become a time-based document of my hand-weaving practice and my life at the periphery of that practice.  So, here I am easing myself back into my blog with a plethora of photos from my life in the past four or five months.  The major event of my life and work in recent times is that we moved into our beloved school house on June 1st and shortly after I started work full-time with Parks Canada for another summer season.  We are still plugging away at doorways, trims and much more - but as autumn falls, we turn our attention to getting our home ready for winter.  It has been a glorious and busy summer, and I have been so happy to come home at the end of every workday to our school house home.  I finish work with Parks for the season in about 3-4 weeks and I look forward to slowing down, and spending time weaving in the home I have been dreaming about for the past year.

 Classroom transformed - our main living space housing my two looms.

 Our glorious windows, facing south-east.

 Bamboo flooring, some artwork up on the walls.

 Our nephew Aiden steering the Cranbrook loom.

 The view from the kitchen through our little window to the classroom.

 Vestibule clad in tongue and groove pine salvaged from the second floor.

 Big skies and Belfast sunsets.

 A short walk to Halliday's Wharf beach.

 Fist weaving project since moving to the school house: cotton throw cushions to match the couch.

 My piece for Art in the Open 2013 (August 24th): Archipelago.

Ikat raw silk warps, drying after being dyed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ikat studies

It's been a while since my last post.  It is not because I have taken a break from weaving, but more because I haven't taken the time to stop and photograph my work.  But today is the day!  First day of spring, and of course there is a snow storm, so this means I am forced to stay at home instead of heading out to work on the school house.  It also means I can put the finishing touches on my order for the Craft Council of NL:  tweek my hang tags for my scarves, design some new tags for my pouches, wash felt and dye the last four River scarves, and generally makes sure the whole order looks super duper.

I wanted to document my 16 ikat Swedish lace scarves, but because of the ikat dyeing technique and the colour variation it produces, it doesn't do the scarves justice just to photograph them rolled or folded.  Instead, I have done a series of photos of the details of the ikat effects on the dyed silk warp strings.  I like the imperfections and the static effect that occurs when the dyed warp is threaded onto the loom and the areas of dyed colour translated into cloth.....enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

spring order

The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador placed a nice, big wholesale order with me the other week.  Their large shop in St. John's, Devon House on Duckworth Street, has been carrying my work since 2007 when I lived in Corner Brook for a couple of years.  The Craft Council of NL has been incredibly supportive to me over the years, especially when I was first starting out.  Every two years or so, they place a a wholesale order with me, and this year, I am really excited about the variety of handwoven pieces they would like.

Part of their order will be a large selection of my Swedish Lace ikat scarves woven with raw silk and cotton.  Partly designed to familiarize myself with Swedish handweaving for my trip to Sweden last fall, this design has lacy open stripes of cotton and plain weave stripes of ikat dyed raw silk. 

 Yesterday I prepared all the silk warps by measuring them out on my warping mill, tying them up with plastic and then dyeing them.  When they were still wet, I stretched them all out again on my warping mill to dry.  The colour palette for this production run is a mix of blues, aquas, and raspberry pinks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

start to finish

Yesterday I posted about my handwoven cloth, fresh off the loom and ready to be sewn into zippered pouches.  Thanks to my trusty Singer Fashion Mate sewing machine (made in Italy in the 1960s, all metal parts, bought on kijiji for cheap), I whipped up 8 new pouches last night. 

The handwoven cloth on the outside is made of cotton with small bits of hand-dyed raw silk.  They are 9" wide (zip to zip) and 5" deep.  I lined them with fine unbleached cotton that I re-purposed from a second hand sheeting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

sample me up

This January, I've been slowly plugging away on weaving cloth for my little zippered pouches.  Varying the dimensions slightly and playing around with weave patterns and stripe arrangements allows me a huge variety of designs and effects.  The last couple of warps, I've been more mindful of designing the cloth for the construction of the pouch, emphasizing a stripe of overshot circles along the bottom of the finished pouch.  In the photo above, the cloth is freshly woven and cut off the loom, and has been washed.  I am now ready to cut apart each different 10' length of colour, buy some more zippers, and start sewing up the pouches.

For these pouches, I dressed the loom with a warp that is about 3 yards long, and then switch weft colours every 12 inches - the measurement needed for each pouch.  Instead of committing to a long multiple scarf warp, this allows me to use the process of weaving the pouch cloth like a sampler:  I get to try out a variety of different woven patterns and explore the effect of different weft colours on the weave....and as soon as I'm finished weaving one warp of pouches, my mind is eager to try out the next idea that has been sparked in the process.