what I did this summer...

It was a summer of playful exploration, making space and finishing up projects. I started the summer by applying the Kon Mari method to my studio. I purged so many old projects, supplies, and frankly, a ton of papers that just weren't making me happy. Re-organizing what was left has given me so many project ideas. If I'm honest, I'm still feeling really burned out by taking on too much at the beginning of the year. I'm working hard to find more balance both personally and creatively.

Part of finding balance includes incorporating more play. Inspired by an online class I took on Creativebug.  I started with watercolour and ended up creating a personal palette. I love mixing colours and discovering new combinations. Starting my days with unstructured colour meditations was amazing! I find in my work that I lean towards neblues and greys and a bit of chartreuse because I understand them and know how I like to use them. Because there was no end product or time crunch I had the mental space to try new combinations. I was surprised with what I found and I'm excited to include my research into new work.

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Once my studio was in order and I had made some time to play, I headed off with my boys to an island I hadn't visited in a long time. I was drawn to shadows and rocks both on the island and in our local Japanese gardens. It all seems to be coming together in some way. The creative process is such a mystery. If you give it space to grow and you are aware of all the connections between the mundane and the profound exciting things happen. I'm curious to see what fall brings!

tool making

I recently spent a glorious week at the University of Victoria for the Treadle Lightly conference put on by the Association of Northwest Weavers' Guilds. It was great to meet weavers from all over the US and Canada and to explore techniques and materials along with them.

ANWG2017Bryan

If you've been following my instagram account you'll know that the best part was spending 3+ days with Bryan Whitehead learning to make a bamboo reed. Bryan is kind and irreverent and brings humour, warmth and thoughtfulness to his workshops. It was a real gift to have him come from Japan to share his experience of learning to work with bamboo.

an antique reed from Bryan's collection

an antique reed from Bryan's collection

As an indigo, green tea and silk farmer he embraces his environment as well as the techniques local to the small farming village he lives in. Bryan spent two years growing and preparing the bamboo materials that we would use. It was a herculean effort by someone driven by an intense attention to detail and getting things right. I feel very lucky to be one of twelve people who learned not only about bamboo but also about the honesty of materials, and concept of refined poverty.

tools from Japan

tools from Japan

I'm excited to take this new understanding and a reed made by my own hands into future work.

the reed I made

the reed I made

Discovery Exhibition Wrap Up

What a thrill to see these pieces come full circle! From January 8-28, 2017 these double-weave sculptures were installed at the Seymour Art Gallery as part of a group show of emerging artists that explored the idea of balance.

This was the third time I've worked with this form. The work slowly getting larger and more complex. This time I was exploring ideas of time and work in this woven three-dimensional journal. Each sculpture represents one day in which I documented my activities. The densely woven areas contrast with unwoven areas of evenly spaced warp threads representing changes in activity, units of time, and motion. The structures themselves depend on a balanced application of surface tension to avoid collapse.

It was especially exciting to see how movement and shadow played into the experience. That was a lovely and unexpected outcome of the installation.

Thank you to everyone who came out to see it.

handweberei I + II

I just came across these fantastic German films from the 1930s.  If you've ever been curious about the whole weaving process, this is pretty much how it's done. Only most hand weavers do all of this on their own. I might have to get a pair of weaving overalls now.

 

I love how the mechanical aspects of the process are exposed. Weaving is really so much more than throwing a shuttle back and forth. I'm also thinking these fellas were pretty proud of their flying shuttle and automatic cloth advance too!

indigo workshops

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I recently finished up a three day indigo dyeing workshop with two groups of amazing kids! We incorporated some history, cultural studies, math, science, environmental studies, design . . . Indigo is such a perfect vehicle for kids of all learning abilities to be successful and feel good about themselves. So I guess we also threw in some social emotional development too!

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The primary class did Adire Elenko inspired paste resisted cloth and the intermediate class made Shibori patterns. Kids in both classes were invited to make their cloth useful and to think about what they are going to do with it next. I'm so curious to see what they come up with.

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residency update

The last few months have been quite the journey. My daily practice has been to follow the materials and let them lead me. I've been making and making and making. Now I'm starting to see what themes emerge and what connections are made. I'm a planner by nature so this has been a crazy ride for me. It's hard to feel like I'm going in a direction when the only constants are me, my location and the indigo. I've had to put a lot of trust in myself and the materials. Sorting, and curating and reading, and researching have become the latest layer. And miracle of miracles, something tangible is emerging. As things coalesce I'll share more about each of the four projects coming out of this. I'm pretty excited about all of them and feel like they are bringing me closer to the vulnerability and truth that I was looking for in my work. Each of them expresses a part of me I will continue to develop even after the residency is over. But for now I can share my material exploration.

cotton indigo

For the first three months I explored three different indigo recipes with various fibres, Michel Garcia's 1-2-3 vat, a ferrous sulphate vat and a thiourea dioxide vat. I dedicated roughly one month to each vat. The recipes I've linked to here are similar to what I used. There is so much different information on indigo out there. You really do have to just jump in and figure it out as you go along. I compiled a number of recipes from notes from my previous work with indigo, from The Art and Craft of Natural Dye and from The Modern Natural Dyer   I found The Art and Craft of Natural Dye to be the most detailed and comprehensive. I was lucky to find a copy in the Emily Carr library.

linen indigoI wanted to work towards those deep dark blues and hopefully become confident enough with the nuances of a fermentation vat to be able to bring it into my home practice. I feel like I could chase indigo forever and still not understand it all. I was surprised at how easy the fermentation vat was to maintain but it just didn't give me those blues I was looking for. This photo of ferrous indigo on linen is a great example of what happens when you don't use a basket. The staining is from the iron. It was interesting as well to see how the vats worked with different fibre types. I now have a rich resource in the sample book I created. I can figure out which vat recipe, tools and fibre combo will work the best in different situations. That's pretty exciting in itself.

GIphotocollageSimultaneous to these indigo experiments I was looking at patterns around me. I generated close to 400 photographs in and around Granville Island. These became the starting point for near daily mark making and collage exercises. These exercises became the inspiration for a family workshop on developing a visual language. These samples from people from age 5 and up show the incredible range of marks and imagery inspired by photos like those above.

workshop collageMy own mark making experiments have also led to repeat pattern development which I've been using in combination with home made rice paste resist something I've always wanted to try.

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I never imagined a sketchbook practice would be one of the pieces that came out of this residency. Over the course of a few months I've internalized the need to create marks or colour tests or just play. I've been generating ideas for weaving and just freeing my hand and eyes. I'm grateful and feeling so lucky for this time to explore, reflect make and deepen my engagement without getting hung up on end goals (too much).

 

 

on being a resident artist

I'm into the second week of my residency at the Leeway studio at Emily Carr University. I'm starting gradually, getting up to speed on the practice of sharing a studio again. I'm (literally) up to my elbows in an indigo vat. I'm thinking about how to use the indigo with other dye substances and resists without focusing too much on the outcome. I always aspire to this way of working but my need to predict and plan usually finds its way in. I've been integrating bits and pieces from Maiwa Symposium lectures and books and articles that I've found at the ECUAD library. I'm consciously developing a residency practice that involves mindfully experiencing my environment. I've been taking time to walk a little to and from the studio and document those walks with photos. I feel myself moving slightly away from weaving and heading back to dyeing whole cloth. Although there will likely be a dyed warp in there somewhere, even if it's not woven right away. It's always a back and forth with those two for me.

holding space

The Holding Space exhibition at Espace Fibre will gather under-graduates (and a few recent graduates) from across Canada who work primarily with fibre. The April event is being coordinated by the Concordia Fibres Students Association. I'm so excited to be a part of it with this woven sculpture. I only wish I could go too!

With this piece I was re-visiting a double weave sculpture that I made for one of my final weavings at school. I wanted to use finer materials and create a bigger and yet more delicate structure that incorporates fluid boundaries, simultaneous interiors and exteriors through delicate balance and tension. Commonalities and breathing space are the result of this tension. It's really meant to be experienced. To walk around it and see the compartments and how they relate to each other and support each other. How they are different and similar at the same time.

anonymous

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I've got a few pieces in this year's Anonymous Art Show at the Cityscape Community Art Space in North Vancouver. I like the idea that emerging and established artists share the gallery walls. There are hundreds of pieces for just $100 each with partial proceeds going towards art programs organized by the North Vancouver Arts Council. The show opens November 20 from 7:00-9:30pm.

stitching

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Things have been quiet on the blog as I've been experimenting a lot with embroidery and my photos of the urban landscape. This random, collage style appeals to me and I love how I can embroider in between weaving projects. When I can't weave, I can always take a piece of embroidery along with me. I've been especially inspired by the work of Tilleke Schwarz and Michael Brennand-Wood, both of whom I was able to meet this past month. Both of these artists create works that incorporate seemingly random bits from their lives or things they come across. To create meaning from disconnected things really excites me. I've been sharing my process more on instagram and I've been thinking about starting a daily embroidery tumblr. I think it would be interesting to see if I can capture a feeling, practice a technique or even create a larger piece by doing one embroidery a day.

strange material

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I'm excited to be able to finally share some more details about the fall launch of Strange Material. Last summer I worked on my contribution, a piece that explores storytelling with embroidery and other simple surface design techniques. I'm so honoured to be part of this project and look forward to seeing the other pieces. Mark your calendars, a book tour is planned for the fall. I will be at the Vancouver stop at Hot Art Wet City on October 7 if anyone wants to stop by to see the art in person and say hello!

weaving workshops

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I finished the last day of a weaving workshop with fifty kids from ages 5-12. I'm so grateful for the Capilano alumni that came out to help and to the parent volunteers that quickly learned how to weave! It was amazing to see how focused and intentional everyone was. At times, the room was so quiet. It's always interesting to see the kinds of goals they set for themselves and the varying abilities in dealing with challenges. For some it came easy and for others it was a lot of work. I'm so proud of these kids. They are all amazing artists even if they don't always see it yet. Can't wait to work with them again next year!

ikat studies

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I've been playing around with a densely sett cotton warp. It's only three inches wide but very long so I can try a lot of little things with a straight tabby tie-up. First up are these three little painted warp studies. I'm liking how the tight warp sett creates a soft, pale image. The upper right images show how the block print translated into a woven piece. I think these will work really well on a larger scale.  

jun tomita

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jun_tomita_collage2I'm smitten with these weavings by kasuri weaving master, Jun Tomita. The way that a very simple colour palette and weave structure can be used to create such depth and warmth seems like magic to me. These pieces were part of a hotel renovation project in Japan called TEXTyle 118 rooms. A number of textile artists were commissioned to create artwork as part of a transformation of 118 hotel rooms. I was lucky to be able to see a copy of the publication that went along with it but I'm afraid I can't read Japanese so I only have images and artist names.

shibui

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Another weaving documented. I'm slowly catching up. This one is from last term. I was continuing my exploration into Japanese structures and questioning how we look at intrinsic patterns and materiality. We expect weaving to be structured and rigid but in this case it is less linear in structure and finds an affinity with an unexpected material – rusted steel rectangles that are folded to fit into pockets created by the weave structure. Light from the environment alternates between seeping through the holes in the weaving and being blocked by the steel. Each container or basket holds something requiring further investigation. Upon closer inspection, patterns and details are revealed in the rust patterns.

I was inspired by the sculptural weavings of Lenore Tawney, Kay Sekimachi and Jane Harper as well as a photograph I took of metal bars obscuring a curtain covered window. I imagined the materials exchanging places, where the textile becomes the structure and the metal is secondary. I wanted to create a three dimensional piece that invited tension between different materials while still being mindful of how they interact with each other. I see this piece as a prototype for working in multiples, perhaps with other materials such as plexi-glass, and perhaps on a larger scale. It could be a waterfall or screen type installation piece.

meet the Ackermans

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I just discovered Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman. I love their approach, breadth, sense of adventure and their mutual admiration for each other. Evelyn's tapestry work is intriguing. She took medieval designs and updated them for a contemporary audience. Next term we will do more tapestry and jacquard weaving. I'm already starting to generate ideas. Once we get going, it's hard to stop and think.

ikat

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ikatcollage_2013

I recently did a series of ikat studies. Choosing to use acid dye to create varying depths of shade in the wool weft and altering the amount I manipulated it in an overshot style, I created three pieces of varying visual texture. From random all over texture, to more precise ikat striping. The background is cotton weft and warp in a simple tabby structure. To my six year old, the one in the middle looks like the reflection of a sun setting on water. I like the Rorschach quality of them.

As I was weaving them I was thinking about Surrealist photography,  Japanese kasuri weaving techniques and the innate qualities of the materials I was working with. It was interesting to consider how much effort should be exerted to created the image I wanted or should I just allow the materials to create their own unique random patterning? Apparently my obsession with Japanese textiles continues . . .

alpaca

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Over the summer I borrowed a four harness floor loom and wove up a long alpaca warp. This is the first of the two scarves now off the loom. It's incredibly soft. The plan is to sew it up into a mobius loop that loops around twice the way I've pinned it here. I have yet to wash it but I'm hoping the drape will soften slightly although I kind of like the structured feel of the unwashed wool. I look forward to wearing it. It's supposed to snow tonight!