Thursday, November 16, 2017

Anvil Centre Residency - Week 1

When I applied for this residency, I thought I would spend my time making garments from some of the hand woven fabric that I've been accumulating. I have several pieces from last year's residency at Leigh Square, as well as some other pieces that I've worked on over the year.

I've had to rethink that plan. If I want to do any garment construction, that would mean that I'd have to bring in a sewing machine, mannequin, mirror etc, etc. This residency is just one month long, and I realized that I would spend most of the first week moving in and getting stuff set up. It would likely take most of the last week to get everything packed up and taken away again. That all seems to be too much effort for what would end up being just two weeks of working time. As it turns out, I also have some other more pressing priorities.

I've somehow talked myself into being part of a group show next month with the theme of "houses" - the actual title is still under discussion. I also have a show next fall themed around hand stitched textiles. I've started work on some "wish flags" that can be used for both shows. Wish flags are like hand made prayer flags that share messages of good will when they are hung in public spaces. This group can be hung together or individually.

I did get some work done on a piece of handwoven fabric that is destined to become a garment. I spent some time twisting the fringes on this twill fabric that I started weaving last year at Leigh Square. Twisting fringe is not the most exciting thing to do, and I've obviously been putting it off for a year!. At the spinning class that I'm taking we were talking about "thigh spinning", and I realized that I could use this same technique to twist the fringe. I was quite pleased with the results.

I had taken this piece ito my weaving class at Place des Arts and we started playing around, draping it on some of the students. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures, but we came up with a very elegant way to wear it that would just need a bit of hand sewing to make it into a very wearable garment.

Like I said, it was a slow start to the residency.  Let's hope I get more done over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Artist Residency at Anvil Centre in New Westminster

Last week I started a month long residency at the Anvil Centre. This is brand new facility on Columbia Street in New Westminster. I used to work right around the corner at Purpose Society running parenting groups, and I also worked in New West as the Literacy Outreach Coordinator for the community. Being back there feels very comfortable and familiar to me.

My residency got off to a slow start. I was supposed to start last Wednesday, but I had had a very heavy workshop schedule and I just did not want to leave the house, or even open my mouth that morning. By mid afternoon, I decided that I would go and check out the space without planning on doing any work. When I arrived at the Anvil Centre, no one there even knew I was coming. They managed to find someone to give me a key to my office space - it's a bit like a windowless cupboard really, but I'll mainly use it as a private and locked storage space - something that I didn't have at the residency that I did last year at Leigh Square in Port Coquitlam.

 Fortunately, I don't have to work in the office. That would have been a deal breaker for me. I cannot create in a space without natural light. There are some very nice bright studios with large windows right across the hall from my office that I can use whenever I'm there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Drawing like a child

I'm teaching an adult class on "art fundamentals" - things like line, colour, shape etc. It is an interesting exercise for me because my contrary nature makes me not want to follow the "rules". Last night's session was on shape. This was a particularly difficult one for me. I've actively avoided thinking about the basic shapes of objects for most of my life, and I know exactly why.

When I was a child, someone (yes, I do remember who it was) gave me a book about drawing birds. The book had step by step instructions for drawing a variety of birds. Each drawing started with a basic egg shape and built from there. I tried to follow the directions. I really did, but laying down those basic shapes sucked all the joy out of drawing for me. I tossed the book aside, and kept drawing my own way. However, somewhere deep down inside, I believed that one day, (when I became a "grown up"), I would understand how to do things in a logical, systematic way, instead of in my own random, childish, juvenile way. Well, perhaps I didn't quite use those words at the time - I was only 8 after all, but nevertheless, that's what I thought for a very long time.

In one of her books, Lynda Barry (look her up if you don't know her work) writes about how kids draw simply for the joy of making lines on a page, they don't worry about what the lines look like, or what they will become, they just draw. She says that for many of us, at some point that all changes, and we start to worry about whether or not our drawings look any good, and the "two questions" that take over. The two questions are "is it good?" and "does it suck?" I feel like teaching adults to draw is really about teaching them to forget about the two questions.

Here's some of the art that people did yesterday. I'm really excited at how they turned out.

Before the adult class, I had two children's classes. We read a book called "A Perfect Square" by Michael Hill, and then made art from a "perfect square" of origami paper. I liked the activity enough that I used it in the adult class as well. Here's a peek. The top row are by 3-4 year olds, the middle row by 5-7 year old and the bottom row by grown-ups.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The invasion of the giant bugs

Earlier this summer I was asked to teach a summer camp session making giant papier mache bugs. It was a blast, and all the bugs that the kids made looked amazing.

Here's a peek at a few of them:

I wanted to make more, so I gathered the Muckabout Kids (and a few grown ups too) to make some that we could exhibit all together.

All the bugs were exhibited at the 2017 Living Room Art in the Heights event. They were everywhere, flying from the ceiling, hanging from the walls, crawling around a cage. As a happy accident, there were several bug themed videos playing in one of the rooms where our bugs were displayed.

Feed the chickens, weave some cloth, catch a fish, or something like that.

A potter friend of mine asked if  I could weave a table runner to coordinate with a dinner set that she was planning to make for an upcoming show. She said she wanted lots of texture, trailing bits and loose threads.

I managed to almost immediately break the sample bowl that she gave me, because that's what happens when you try to carry an armload of yarn, a warping board, and a little ceramic bowl all at the same time. Nonetheless, I thought the warp looked great with the shards of the bowl.

So there I was weaving along, thinking about the beach, using lots of blue/green and turquoise yarns, with some hits of putty and even pink. I was enjoying how the table runner was turning out, when suddenly, I decided that it needed to become a circle scarf. I had left lots of warp at the beginning, thinking it would become an extra long fringe, so when I got near the end of the warp, I unwound it and wove it in as weft. 

Here's the finished scarf with the "warp becomes weft" bit showing at the bottom. 

And here's the table setting:

Oh, and the title of this post. I know you are wondering. That's the title that the potter chose for this piece, at least it was something like that.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Giant bugs

I'll be teaching a couple of weeks of summer camp at Place des Arts this summer. I think I mainly agreed to do it because the theme is papier mache bugs - and how could anyone not want to make giant papier mache bugs? Here are the samples that I've made.

At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to teach art to kids, but I've come to realize that I enjoy coming up with project ideas and making the samples for myself. Seeing the kids enjoy the creative process is an added bonus. I especially love how the art they make looks nothing like my samples.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this weekend.

The Vancouver Mini Maker Faire is a popular annual outing in our house. It's one of those rare things that every family member is actually enthusiastic about attending. If you've never been, I'd highly recommend it. It is not at all like a regular craft fair with vendors selling their stuff. While there are usually some things for sale, the maker faire is all about people showing off the stuff they like to make. There are all kinds of weird and wonderful things there. It's a hard thing to describe. You just have to go see for yourself.

I'll be there this Saturday doing a Junk Journalling workshop 11:45-1:45pm
The registration details are here: