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:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kid's art

I've been teaching lots of kid's art classes recently. I didn't plan to, but it just sort of fell into my lap. I really love how fearless children are with art materials. They just take whatever supplies happen to be lying around that start making things.

Drawing on the white board is very popular with one of my classes. This is the message that one of my young students decided to share.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


My daughter recently did an "artist apprenticeship" for her high school work experience. The group decided to create artwork with the theme "conformity". Most of the students did drawings or paintings. One person created a welded metal dress, called "The Cage". This is the weaving my daughter did as her contribution to the exhibit. All the artwork is on display at the MacGill branch of the Burnaby Public Library until the end of May.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Place des Arts classes

Here's what we did at today's Paint, Print, Portfolio kid's class at Place des Arts. 

We assembled the portfolios. Last week the kids made coloured papers using heart shaped upcycled crayons and smelly markers. Today we used the papers to cover the cardboard portfolios. I think the duct tape borders look great.

We also started work on an alphabet colouring book. When I was looking through my "stuff" for ideas, I came across a homemade alphabet colouring book zine, and thought it would be a good challenge for the make their own. I took in a copy of Graeme Base's Animalia, because it is so beautifully illustrated, but mainly because it is the only alphabet book I still have at home. None of the kids had seen it before, and they loved looking at all the detailed illustrations and finding all the hidden objects. They weren't so sure about making their own book though, and I had to give them suggestions on what to draw, but I think this is going to work out.

After class, I made a sakura inspired sample for next week. The cherry blossoms are all in bloom right now, and I saw some similar kid's art at the Richmond Cultural Centre on the weekend. This sample is made by blowing liquid watercolour paint around on the page to create the "trunk" and then dabbing on blobs of pink. I used the end of a paint brush, but I think I'll give the kids bundles of cotton swabs tied together.

The second session of the adult Exploring Acrylics class is tomorrow. In addition to the individual paintings, we are working on a collaborative canvas. I started it off with a bit of paint and some scraps of paper stuck down. I wish I had taken a "before" photo before the group started painting. 

Here's how it looked after the end of the first class:

Monday, April 10, 2017

The evolution of the Sustainable Weaving Project

These are some of the things that people are working on at the Sustainable Weaving project at the Dunbar Community Centre. This is a project of the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society (VACS). I think almost everyone is a novice weaver. We are challenging people to upcycle, or use materials that they already have. Most people are using torn strips of fabric for their weaving, but one participant uses leftover bits of sock yarn. That would be her long narrow piece in the top right.

The project started out as a "Creative Weaving Project". Musqueam weaver, Debra Sparrow showed us how to use traditional Salish looms - a tradition that she and her sister revived in their community. Historically, the weavings were made with goat hair, but these days, chunky yarn made for sheep's wool is used - usually it is the six strand wool  used to make Cowichan sweaters. The problem is that you need to spin the yarn first, while maintaining the thickness. It is an overwhelming task for my little drop spindle. I started to think about using materials that are more commonly available to me - that would allow me to keep the chunky quality of this style of weaving.

This piece uses several strands of thinner yarns. I like the way that you blend the colours by combining yarns that have slightly different hues

I also experimented with using torn strips of fabric to make a "rug rag" style weaving and came up with this weaving. :

Since VACS had a stash of fabric scraps that needed a purpose, the Sustainable Weaving Project.

We are hoping that everyone who participates in the project will contribute a small weaving, perhaps with a symbol that has meaning to them. We will combine all the contributions to make a larger collaborative piece. We don't yet know what form the finished piece will take. We will let that emerge organically from the materials.When it is completed, it will be displayed at the Dunbar Community Centre.

Our Sustainable Weaving sessions are on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month 4-6pm at Dunbar Community Centre in Vancouver. They are free and open to drop-in visitors.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Gelli Printing Play Date

Some arty friends of mine organized a gelli printing play date. The last time we did this was about two years ago, and that was the last time that most of us had even used our gelli plates. I've never actually used mine at home. For those of you wondering what the heck a Gelli Plate is: it is a tool for making deliciously wonderful and surprising monoprints. You can use acrylic paint and all kinds of textured things to create the prints. Here's a peek. 

I don't generally rush out to buy fancy art tools, but this one is definitely worth the cost. You can create lots of interesting papers to use in art projects in an afternoon. I came away from our play date afternoon with about 80 unique papers. Here are a few of my favourites: