Category Archives: ACAD residency 2012

“A Birth of Silence” makes her debut

I can’t believe how slow i was with this one! Started at the beginning of April, i had some real time lapse moments–as in, i let it lapse in time to work on! Don’t know why i had such a block with it: Padded Cell took 7 months, and it was at least as much stitching as this one, give or take a hundred hours! *I sort of kept track at the beginning of how much time i was putting into the handwork, and gave up at around 142 hours–add another 76.675459 or so, and that means a lot of myopic moments!

So, nine months later, here it is, “A Birth of Silence”.

We are losing our habitats, our rivers, indeed much of our planet, to irresponsible stewardship, on global and personal levels. Without pollinators, our food supply and natural reserves will be devastated. I have chosen to represent these necessary life forces in “A Birth of Silence”. Bees hover around a butterfly egg, the honeycombs and pollen grains are suspended in space, perhaps to disappear forever. Without the key element of pollinators in the world, there will indeed be a colossal birth of silence, a death rather, of everything we need and desire in our world.

I am truly horrified by how even locally this mismanagement is so striking. I learned this past week that my beloved Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and the local “wildlife habitat” area are in jeopardy of becoming simply open spaces with no real natural benefit to the local ecosystem. Invasive plants, non-native plants, no water in the marsh areas, plowing over the area that was used as flood mitigation repair which opens it to more invasive and non beneficial plant life, plowing which also destroyed the natural land formations of small hills and barrows and all of the trees remaining after the flood, no long term plantings for birds and small mammal food supplies and nesting/shelter areas, removal of beaver populations, improper stewardship of new plantings, construction of touristy buildings and well meaning but spurious “art projects” gawdz, the list goes on and on……….I suspect some eco-activist action may will be upcoming in my future.

Through the local fibre arts group Contextural, this will be part of an exhibition at the Alberta Craft Council Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta. X3 features 3 organizations on the cutting edge of fine craft: Alberta Potters’ Association, Contextural Fibre Arts Cooperative and the Nina Haggerty Centre.


This is the starting fabric, the base, created in my 2012 residency at ACAD. I had deliberately done large pieces, intending to use them as start points for future work. (Some of these are still sitting in the stoodio, waiting for inspiration.) You never know where these will lead you until the time is ripe. Through the last few years, my intent is faster than the implementation though, truly “Slow Cloth”! (Note though, “slow cloth” is NOT just about hand work–it’s about intent and commitment.)  I know too that sometimes–for me at least–my ideas can’t come to fruition until i have the skill set to make them real, whether it be a particular technique, or a concept, or a deep seated NEED to do that specific work.

I flipped the fabric though so the orientation is this way (hence the upside down ©) :

big expanse orientation

After exploring this technique for the past two years, i am still thrilled by the dimension and texture created.

ABOS pre exhibition 1

ABOS pre exhibition 2

ABOS pre exhibition 3

ABOS pre exhibition 4

ABOS pre exhibition 5

I don’t yet have a photo of the whole hanging properly (the top 6″ of this is folded over behind), but am hoping to amend that by seeing it at the exhibition on January 16th–i might just finally show for an artist reception 😉 Measuring the final result with the draw-in and tension, the size is 36″ wide by 43″ height.

(I just realized, the conception, gestation and birth of this one was indeed 9 months……..)


 *I don’t normally count the hours, but i was curious myself to see how much time does go into these works. It doesn’t make me any “better” than anyone else who puts time and serious effort into their art, but i had to laugh after seeing an article about a young man who puts THIRTYFIVE HOURS into each piece 😉 HA! There are many of us who put in much more than that!


hanging a show

And again, struggling with “Artist statement”……….blah blah, blahdy blah….One line this time, a little artsyfartsy but not too much….”Evolving, devolving, in response to the self, learning the essence of thread, needle and cloth.”

I thought i had the original artworks that inspired the piece, but somewhere along the way with moves and purgings, they have disappeared. I think i may have donated them to the Salvation Army! Fortunately, i have photos, though #1 is truncated.

And for full circle, i may redo them in new flavours 🙂

“Not A Hive Mind” 27×20″ ecoprinted and rusted cotton, machine and hand embroidery, dimensional applique

Carmela’s sculptural felt pieces:

And i apologize to Carmela, her last name does not have an “a” on the end!!!

Siri’s ecoprint, aerial maps:

Karen’s graphic floor cloths:

Natalie’s screen printed linen yardage:

Bobbie’s screen printed “Lost Girls” series:

Karen’s painted silks:

This is only half of the show and is in the 371 Gallery at ACAD, as the other part is in the Marion Nicol gallery–and the students were still hanging it when i left. Photos of that when i get them at opening or on Critique night.


layering colour and patterning

Fabrics from the residency were overdyed and over printed this past week, with mixed results. Peony, lady’s mantle and ferns from my garden and a gathering of various leaves, solidago and tansy from surrounding pathways and empty lots heroically threw themselves in pots and gave up their colours. Pics later when things have ripened.

To celebrate, i feel a 2nd Anniversary sale coming up in the shop! I’ve culled my stockpile, found some oldies but goodies, a few pieces that have never seen the light of day and will be adding a few new pieces as well, all at a good discount. Please, take advantage of me 🙂 I plan to start listing tomorrow afternoon (Monday, July 30).

I’m also experimenting again, trying to create some fabrics in dark dark dark colour and patternings. I have in mind a few pieces that are more “dramatic”, though i’m not sure yet what i want to do with them!

The 3d form is harder than i thought–i don’t have a clear picture in my head for it, though it’s clearer than it was a week ago. Working deliberately in 3 dimensions means things either have to flow around it, or have a definite reason for being chopped and added to. At the very least, i suppose i will have some interesting samples! Not sure it will be enough to show for the res exhibit at this point, but who knows: surprised myself by finishing “Not A Hive Mind” way ahead of schedule, so this one might leap into itself in time too…

I’m also feeling a bit violated today–i stoopidly turned my back on my shopping bags on Saturday and all it took was a split second for someone to take 2 large pieces of mail that i had not left in the car as i should have. I’m kicking myself for my OWN stoopidity, but thankful that my wallet and keys were not also appropriated.


the bees are launched

So, the theme for Contextural 2012 residency exhibition being “Material Resonance”, a riff on what we were doing five years ago when Contextural was “born”, i had dug through my archives and found a photo of this face/work and decided to “respond” to it.

“Not A Hive Mind” 27×20″ ecoprinted and rusted cotton, machine and hand embroidery, dimensional applique

(The borders by the way, are straight and have 90degree corners–i need to learn how to adjust or use my camera so it doesn’t barrel edges.)

Quite a different feeling, and quite a different time frame to make! I think the one in ’07 probably took 2-3 hours, not that that makes it any better or worse: it’s just interesting to feel the effect time has on work. I know though that i thought less during that period of where to go next, what influence the current piece would have on future work or even what i’d use it for when it was done! Of course, i was also not that into hand work: “Slow Cloth”, or doing things by hand period were not on my radar. I don’t dislike now that original face but it doesn’t really have any personal meaning to it either. I joined Contextural in 2009, so it’s only my 4th year, but this was an interesting jump point. To go back to old work and change, augment, refine, build on, (whatever the appropriate word/phrase is), was a valuable exercise.

I’m surprised too to see that while it seemed a long time to make this one, it was really only July 12th that i first put needle to it! Amazing what happens when you turn the computer off.

Some of the mysteriously dyeable lace has made an appearance again, though only as a slim border. I don’t know what i’ll do when i run out of it 🙂

As i worked those gold radials, i was thinking ahead to the 3d piece i want to do, again not sure it will be done (enough) to show in the exhibition, but something i definitely want to finish regardless. And lest anyone have the image of tires on this piece, a radial pattern is one that appears to radiate from a point, like the spokes from the hub of a wheel!

A good sign for me that the form/figure is where i want to be next, is that i couldn’t sleep last night, thinking about it. (When i stop resolving problems at night is when i know it’s time to turn to something else.) I’m not getting all mystical or artsy here, it’s just a fact, part of my process and practice. (Dear gawdz, i used those words in a serious sense….someone slap me….)

Though i need/want to get to the next piece, the form, i am taking the weekend off, starting



couching hair

Maybe i am a masochist after all……

The last stage of stitching has commenced on the bee work. I’m accenting some of the radials with a gold thread, which is beautifully soft and surprisingly subtle added this way—–glad i didn’t go with the first choice which was the copper i used on the bees. HOWEVER, it is nerve wracking  and exhausting working these lines: the thread (Coats and Clark) is as fine as a hair, which means the first stage of getting it through rusted, painted and already heavily embroidered areas is a tongue biting exercise in patience and careful thread manipulation. Then i have to couch it which means more tongue biting, myopic thread spacing counting and a few choice words.

It also doesn’t help that i am bothered, yes bothered severely, by groupings of 4 or 6. That means when this happens i have to add another line to bring those areas to 5 or 7 radials. Wacko, i know, but i just can’t help it. It’s taken me 3 hours this morning to get all but 2 sections done. Thank the gawdz i didn’t choose to do every radial, thinking that would have been overkill, or i would be truly stomping my pretty little big hoofies in exasperation. As it is, these hoofies are ready for a wander with DogFaced Girl and the hoofies at the other end will resume when we come back.


and continuing on, going full out 3d

It’s rare that i have a period after a finished piece that i have the next one lined up, and raring to go. Usually i drag around wondering if i’ll ever be happy again creating, and leaky angsting all over the place about what i want to do. Oh, i always have plans, and notes, but no gumption, no fire in my belly and certainly no excitement.

Not so after completing “Not A Hive Mind”. (As i write this i mean SO NEAR completion. One more full day i figure.) I’ve pulled fabrics out of hiding and am asking the form what it wants, consulting the notes to see they are in agreement with the choice and doing that back and forth dance you do before you jump 50 metres out into the cold air right off that sharp cliff edge into cruelly frigid water that has a lot of hidden rocks and a dangerous undertow………..whew………..

This one has fabrics from this summer’s residency. I thought it only right that some showed up for the exhibition, not that it’s prerequisite.

love the colour, love the shape, but don’t like the idea of a target on my back!

two circles would be too obvious for breasts, one is okay

lace might be too “feminine” for what i intend this to be

maybe a backbone created accidentally on purpose during the Pollen workshop??

or a feather(-ish) backbone?

None of these are set in stone, none will be whole or as “straight” as in this photos. I intend (and have to do) lots of seaming to fit the shape correctly, especially the breast area and belly, perhaps a hint of buttocks as well. All the basic seaming will be by machine, because as much as i love the hand work, i’m constrained by time–and i’m not a masochist. A little tweaking by digit of course, and the embellishing for the most part will be manually done.

This will also fit into The Artist’s Body series which has rather been languishing over the last year and a half. Time enough to return to that after the exhibition…..

Whether or not i get it done for the exhibition is entirely a different bowl of snakes.


breathing hot and heavy :)

While the bees rest, i have only a third of the background left to embrilt in honeycomb patterns, add a few more gold rays, then attach the backing and said bees, and “Not A Hive Mind” will be DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE. Another not so slow Slow Cloth to add to my gallery wanderings and seekings 🙂

EDIT 2:11PM All embrilting done!