Tuesday, January 3, 2017

52 Sketches, Week 1 Nothing is two syllables

For the last couple of years, I have done an annual weekly creative project. In 2015, I made an art journal each week for the whole year - I've almost finished filling them all up with artwork too. Then last year, I did a textile project for the whole.year.

This year, I've decided to do a sketch each week. I really enjoy sketching on location especially when I'm travelling, but I haven't been finding the time to do much lately and I'm getting rusty. I could really tell on my trip last month. It took a few days to get comfortable sketching.

My first sketch of 2017 is the view from my dining room window. In case you are wondering about the caption. I like to write down something that I hear someone say while I'm sketching. I usually just wait until I hear something "good", but since I was home alone with a lippy teenager today, I had to give her a few prods before she would say anything more than a grunt..

Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy things in January

Are you looking for a fun, creative New Year's resolution? 

2016 has been quite a year. This is the perfect time to start keeping track of all the things that make you smile

Join me each month to make a fun little journal that you can use to keep track of your own happy things.


A few years ago I made a series of junk journals to record all the happy things that happened in my life each month. They are just small simple little booklets made out of random bits of paper that I had lying around in my studio. I decorated them with equally random stickers and other bits and pieces. They were so easy and fun to make. It always makes me smile when I go back and read through all my random happy thoughts.

This year, I'll be running a series of Junk Journalling workshops. We will meet on the first Friday of each month from 6-8 pm at Muckabout Studio (Hastings at Gamma in North Burnaby). I'll have all the materials and supplies you need to make your own "Happy Things of the Month" journal. $18 per session, or buy a 5 session punch card for $75.Contact the studio directly to register.  (They have sessions each week, but I'm only there once a month. The other instructors are all fantastic and will introduce you to other junk journalling ideas.)


If you can't make it to the Friday workshops, I also sell Mini Junk Journal Snack Packs at the Muckabout store. You get a premade mini-journal in a takeout container filled to the brim with fun papery bits that you can use to decorate it. The kits are $10 each.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The couple that weaves together...

On Saturday, I did a workshop for a lovely couple. He bought it for her as a birthday surprise. They spent the day weaving together.

He wove a scarf in the colours of his favourite sports team -the Saskatchewan Roughriders (green, black and white)


She chose a lovely earthy pallette (orange, green, black and white). I had lots of other yarn colours for them to choose, I really did. Even though they made their colour choices for completely different reasons, the two scarfs ended up being very complementary. They even matched the walls of the studio!


They both look very happy with their finished scarves.




Leigh Square residency week 9 - The End*

*yes, that is another "Series of Unfortunate Events" reference. That's two weeks in a row now. I just realized that as much as I enjoyed the series, you might get the impression that I thought of this residency as "unfortunate". Absolutely not! The residency has been a great experience. I've enjoyed the dedicated, productive time, and many opportunities have come my way as a direct result of the residency. I'm planning to do a post reflecting on the whole experience, but for now, this will just be a regular recap of my week.

I had a visitor on Wednesday who popped in to comment on how much he liked the pieces that I had on display. Then he told me a story about a dream he had a few weeks ago. He dreamt that he was following the ancient trade routes along the coast and that while he was somewhere in Oregon (he said he didn't know why, but he was sure this took place in Oregon), he met a weaver who showed him many beautiful and finely woven goat hair blankets. He said he remembered how delicate and soft they were to touch. (I'm not entirely sure that goat hair is particularly soft and delicate. I'd describe it more as coarse and sturdy, but never-the-less, that's the fibre that people along the coast here did use to weave their blankets.) When he told me this story, I thought he had seen the weavings that I had done on the Salish loom, but he seemed confused when  I mentioned them, so we went out to see the display cabinet.


That's when I realized that I had specifically taken those two pieces out to take to the Creative Weaving Project at the Dunbar Community Centre. Oh well. I appreciated his story and I'm glad he shared it with me.

Since this was the last week of my residency, I had made a list of the things I wanted to finish up.

I wanted to get some looms warped for my workshop on Saturday. I'm really enjoying the direct warping method for shortish warps.


Because I've had several workshops and events recently, all my looms had warps on them, so I had to clear some off before I could rewarp them. I decided to play with some pick up stick patterns at the same time: They don't show up too well in this piece, I think they look better in a balanced weave, but this was a practice piece for me. After all, it's only been about 20 years since I've used these techniques.


I also wanted to finish the warp that I had put on the big floor loom.

I managed to get to the end of the warp and when I unrolled the finished piece, I realized that I had woven about 1/2 the full length by myself in the last two weeks of my residency. This piece was supposed to be woven by members of the community. There were a few community members that did some weaving, mainly at the Culture Days event at the start of my residency, and the groups of kindergarten/grade one students who came by for during their field trips. I think this was the only disappointing part to the residency. I'm not sure why, but very few people in the community were interested in weaving. I was going to be a give the finished banner to the centre for them to display, but in the end, I decided to keep it for myself as a souvenir of my time at Leigh Square.


Terri stopped by to remind me to cut the warp off the loom in front of the reed so that the next person to use the loom doesn't have to rethread the whole thing.  I really meant to, but somehow, I ended up cutting it between the heddles and the reed. Oops! It's a pain to rethread everything, but it was my mistake, so I spent the time to leave the loom the way I found it.


One of the things that I've been working on now and then during the residency is making full size patterns for some of the garments that I've designed. I finished up with rough patterns for six garments. I hope to eventually post some tutorials for making handwoven garments.


And just like that, it was time to leave. Overall, it was a really productive and useful experience. I'm glad that I did it. I've realized that I am not ready for a permanent off site studio, but I would like to do more (occasional) short term residencies like this in the future.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Leigh Square Residency - the penultimate week (8)

I've always wanted to use that word, and yes, I did know what it meant before we read "The Series of Unfortunate Events" - possibly my favourite children's book series ever.

To get back on topic, yes, this is the second to last week of my residency. I gave some thought to what I wanted to get done in these last two weeks. One thing that hasn't been working out as I had hoped is the community weaving. I can't quite remember how long I made the warp, but there's lots left and it won't all get used if I leave it for other people to weave. I just don't get that many visitors. I've decided to spend time weaving on it myself. I was going to leave it behind as a gift to the community, but since not that many community members have actually contributed to it and I've done most of the weaving on it myself, I think I will keep it as a reminder of my time at Leigh Square.

This week I wound up what I call a "magic yarn ball' - a ball of random yarns of different lengths tied together, and did some weaving with it. I love how random the weaving is, with little bits of nubbly texture from the knots which just get woven in wherever they land. This is the technique I'm planning to have people use in the "Weave a Scarf in a Day" workshop that I'm doing at Muckabout Studio on December 3rd.

I also did some patterns using two shuttles with two different yarn colours. It is so simple for beginner weavers to get some interesting patterns this way. When I was weaving in Mexico, they called this type of weaving "pick and pick". The students in last week's classes really enjoyed working with these patterns.



Speaking of last week's students, Joanne came by to visit and brought in the weaving that she started last week. She's already finished it and says she has lots more ideas that she wants to try out.  I think her next plan is to make some journal covers.

I spent a lot of my time this week setting up a loom to do 1/2 twill. There are two ways to do 1/2 twill on a rigid heddle loom:

.1 Using one heddle - it's faster and easier to warp, but you have to use a pick up stick and repick every third shed.

2. Using two heddles. This is slower to warp, but supposedly the weaving part is more straightforward. Since this is a very long warp (for a rigid heddle loom in any case), I decided to spend the time up front and warp with two heddles. When I wound this warp, I had not planned to use two heddles, and in hindsight it probably was not the best choice. It has three different yarns. The light pink is tripled (it was wound into balls this way, and I didn't bother to separate them). The dark pink yarn is quite thin, and the red is slubby. To complicate things further, I decided to move some of the warp threads around rather than just put them on the loom in order. It took me all of Wednesday and well into Thursday to get it set up, and along the way, I remembered why I don't like to do two heddle weaves. Let's just say it's very creatively threaded. Admittedly, I was distracted on Wednesday as Joanne came to visit. It was fantastic to have the company and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with her, but perhaps the complicated warping sequence was not the best choice of activity to do with someone else around. I'm hopeful that it will give some interesting results, just like the creative student warp last week. We'll see.

I also rethreaded a simple blue warp. It also somehow ended up with a few funky things going on. I didn't notice until I started weaving on Thursday night. I've certainly been reciting the mantra "there are no mistakes" a lot this week.


I started work on another tapestry on my Salish loom. I've been wanting to do a Sakura themed weaving since the cherry blossoms were blooming last spring. I'm really enjoying this loom with the chunky yarns for tapestry. I took it along to the Dyepot Club meeting on Friday and someone asked why I started weaving from the top, and I said "That's what Debra does". She said it doesn't really make sense when there is a fixed bar at the bottom. There are some vertical frame looms that just let the warp threads hang, and in that case you have to start weaving from the top, I've been enjoying the challenge of thinking about the image from the top down, but maybe for my next project, I will start from the bottom.


I have a short "to do" list for next week. Let's see how much I get finished.

Possible Omissions Show and Sale

Last weekend, we held the Possible Ommisions show and sale at the Mission Possible studio. I took along a few things to exhibit and sell. Making things to sell is most definitely outside my comfort zone, and has been causing me a fair bit of anxiety. I'm usually a fairly relaxed person, so this is not a feeling I have very often, but it's important to do things that make you uncomfortable now and then right?

So, the next time I get asked to participate in a sale (like next
weekend for example), I have a bunch of things ready to go.

We had lots of bare wall space, so I hung some of my recent paintings and asked people to give me feedback on them. Several people commented that they look like my textiles. I don't feel like they are finished yet, but I haven't decided what I want to do with them next. I expect I'll get them out every once in a while and play around with them.


I took a loom along and let people try it out. It was a leftover warp from one of my earlier workshops with an interesting threading arrangement. I liked the way the warp is spaced out with some areas with larger floats. I like the way the piece turned out, and lots of people asked what I'm going to do with it. I think it is the perfect size to become the back of a vest. Now, I just have to collect some weaving for the front.
I took my button maker along and people had lots of fun making little collage buttons. Interesting message choices. The ones that say "be kind" and "It's not the end of the world" were made by a librarian from the US. I think she's planning to wear them to work.

And, why yes, that is reference to A Clockwork Orange in the upper left corner.

I think my favourite is the forest with the little green heart that says "How beautiful you are!"

I was thinking of selling the button maker last year because we hardly ever use it anymore, but I'm glad I hung onto it.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Leigh Square residency week 7

 This was a bit of a different week for me. We are having a show and sale this weekend at the pottery studio. Instead of weaving, I decided to spend some time making things to sell there. Since most of the other people in the show are potters, I decided to do something different.

I stitched some glass beads onto the felt beads that I made as samples for the mini workshop i did a few weeks ago and turned them into necklaces. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.

I also made some necklaces from some bamboo tiles that I painted ages ago and then promptly did nothing with them. I added some beads and sari silk bits to dress them up a bit.

I'm also going to take some of the felt cuffs that I've had on display at Leigh Square, and I've done a few mixed media paintings of labyrinths and standing stones.

This whole making stuff to sell is new to me. I have no idea what people might want to buy. I keep thinking back to an overheard quote that I wrote in one of my sketchbooks: "it's an experiment, it doesn't need to be fixed". Thinking that way is making it easier for me to finish some things without getting all bound up

I had two weaving workshops on Thursday. A full day affair in Poco, and then the first of a series of evening workshops in Burnaby. Not the best planning for sure, but they went well. A couple of the students brought along  their own rigid heddle looms. The one on the left is an Ashford and the one on the right is a Schact Cricket loom. It's nice for me to see these other looms in action. Although they are made by different companies they share some features that are quite different from the Beka model that I use. There are things that I like about them, and there are things that I prefer about my Beka looms. Both the students said that they would rather have a Beka loom - mainly because it is less bulky. I have to admit that is my favourite feature as well - especially when I have to carry several of them to workshops, or put one in my suitcase when I'm travelling. (I carried a warped loom in my suitcase when I went to Europe last summer and gave a talk about freestyle weaving in Finland).


Here's some of the fun weaving that people did today. Lots of exploration of "pick and pick" patterns made by weaving with two shuttles with different colours of yarn.


The Thursday evening series will continue on November 24 and December 1. There is still space to join us for one or both nights. Send me a message if you are interested.