Monday, November 17, 2014

Okanagan School of the Arts Workshops 1

  I have been working in one version of my most perfect place... there are several variations on this... but this is definitely a good one. The Okanagan is beautiful. And home to Canada's best wines, including some amazing reds. I'm staying on the Naramata bench, right on the KVR walking trail, in a vineyard... overlooking the lake.... with fine sunrises and sunsets. It is heavenly...and that is just my mornings and evenings.

  All day I spend at the Shatford Centre, home of the Okanagan School of the Arts. Some days I am teaching... and then others I am there as Artist in Residence. I'm using this time to tidy up some old work, refine my plans and goals for 2015/2016 and then start to enter into the mindspace for my upcoming exhibition in February. It is a wonderful world! Even with a separate studio space at home, and older children now, who are pretty self-sufficient, it is still a unique experience to go to a different space and focus. I think that is the have clear goals to work towards in this special time set aside....with some breathing spaces allowed for...of course...and a fine glass of local red wine.

  This weekend was a three day session on Joomchi Feltmaking. We had a small class, due to a few cancellations, so I had the opportunity to make my own piece as a demonstration. With experienced feltmakers in the class, we delved deeper into perfect fit in garment construction and with a focus on lots of surfaces and composition techniques. 
All of the pieces were beautiful and perfect for their individual wearer and creator...

  And my own, red study....working with a single colour to really highlight the textures in the piece.

   This is first class I have taught in years that was not full. It was a tiny ego hit...being honest with you... but not for long...this smaller class size opened up opportunity to go much farther with my students and create something alongside them. We had more time for discussion and even a short "felt clinic" looking at past projects and tips for improving each work. It was a great gift of space and time.... These were three calm, creative, wonderful days, in an incredible setting and facility. It was pure pleasure.

And there are still 4 more days to go....
Warm wishes, 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Technique: Colour Shifting with Batting

  Wool fibres can be used like paints, laid out to create surface colour changes, but also combined in layers to build new colors through shadowing. We can also use this simple technique to create a shift or transition in colour progression.  It can be easier to imagine how to blend the layers when using wool roving than when using wool batting.  This is a method I use to create a more subtle shift in colour when laying out using wool batting.

This technique is illustrated using C1/Pelsull and C1 wool batting from New England Felting Supply.

 For many projects, we only need half the total thickness of the batt.
Unroll the batting so you have it at its full thickness. Then open up the layers into two- divide the sheet into two thicknesses. The wool batting divides easily this way…like sheets of phyllo dough….one half will usually be a little heavier than the other. For this layout, I am using the slightly more thick layer. Remember to do this for all your wool colours.

 On the area where you want to continue your layout and start the colour transition, divide this wool layer into two, and pull the top layer up about 2 inches (5cm). This amount will depend on the size of your overall project and composition.Pulling up a larger amount like 4 inches (10cm) will give you a large transition area with more opportunity for gradation.

 Using one hand as a clamp, pull off this part of the top layer.

 Repeat this process on your next colour. In this case I'm using two complementary colours.

 Lay the thin section of the new colour, over the thin section of the previous colour. Because these are both half thicknesses, the transition area now will be the same density as the full colour layer.

  Repeat this same process for all of your layout and colour transitions.

  Wet out and compress as usual.

 You may want to add this the very lightest, finest wisps, not adding weight, but another layer to deepen the gradation through the transition.

 Felt using your usual methods.

 In your transition areas, the two colours overlapping migrate through one another, creating colour shadowing. This migration is what will create the seamless colour transitioning. Tossing your felt really helps to get those fibres integrated and achieve good migration. It is very important to full your felt completely. If you are not seeing any colour shadowing, you probably have more felting to do!

 The transition areas show clear colour blending. A definite purple between the analogous blue and fuchsia, and a brown/orange tone coming from the lime green and fuchsia. This transition could be even more graduated by making a more deep overlap, and lightly adding wisps to the edges of the transition area in the closest colour. The colour transitioning is more subtle between analogous colours than complementary colours. This would also be true when using natural wool colours.

 This is a beautiful and simple technique for adding more depth to your felt composition, with just a simple variation in wool layout.

  A question about laying out using batting in this way was asked by a student in one of my online classes. I started writing out a text description of how to achieve the gradated result, and realized pictures just would tell it so much better! It was a fun exercise for me....a nice distraction from larger projects I have on the go, which I so need from time to time....and also a great opportunity to write a post here!

Warm wishes, 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hegira: A SHIFT dress

hiˈjīrə,ˈhejərə/ : any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place. 
Usually an exodus or migration.  C16: from Medieval Latin, from Arabic hijrah: emigration or flight

This is the sisterdress to Migration.  I wanted to take the wishbone sculptural elements and use them in larger, more transparent forms.  An individual path compared to that of the many in Migration.

  Hegira was a watery dress from the very beginning. The large sheer panel in the middle of the dress, both front and back, illustrates a journey, broken at times, and coming from or starting with a fork or confluence...Rivers with portages, canals with locks, seas with storms...this was created with layers of silk gauze, with resists to prevent the one superfine merino wool layer from obscuring the path.  This dress is lighter than light.

  Different materials mirror the motif; resists, 3-D sculptural elements and silk organza.  The journey can look different but we can arrive in the same place....some are more obvious than others...The forms are like tracks...not continuous...they would take great observation and patience to find and follow.

  This dress was dyed on a full moon dyeing day this summer, which makes it feel just right to tell it's story on another full moon indigo dyeing day today. It is always a wonder-filled to experience to pull the textiles from the indigo vats...

  Hegira had many dips into the indigo vat....developing an intense deep blue...
I added pathways of stitches...but I think there are still more to come ....

  This dress looked wonderful exhibited as a scuplture, but it's story feels even more complete when shown worn on our beautiful island....reflecting the journey by water we all take to get here...

  How can I resist adding more beautiful....shades of indigo captured by Amy Melious...(and the model's name is Indigo also)...created and engaged with water...and the moon and some ocean stars....

  Hegira....the lightest definition of this word sums up this process...a journey to a more congenial place....
Warm wishes, 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fall Felting Retreat- Quebec

The dates and details are set for a relaxing, revitalizing, energizing fall felting retreat - I am so looking forward to this event! 
The retreat will run on October 3, 4, 5, 2014, at Meech Lake, Quebec, just outside Ottawa.
All of the details are described below...please just contact me if you have any questions. This retreat will fill very quickly, so do reserve your space as soon as possible!

Shadow Felting: Friday, all day, and Saturday morning.
Working in layers of silk gauze and fine merino wools we'll create highly refined, drapable textiles.  This strata effect adds depth and interest to the felt surface, building up shading and shadows in both neutral compositions and those highly coloured. We'll also cover the colour carving technique to add bold rifts within the surfaces. Techniques can be used to create either a scarf, shawl, or tunic/shell top. 

Felt Illuminated: Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.
Warm, Soft, Comforting- everything we think of in wool- but with an edge when used in lighting design. The wool fibre patterns are accentuated through shading, unique to this combination of fibre and illumination. The learning challenges in this class are to measure and make resists to construct a 3-D felt form to exact finished dimensions and to create lightweight, structurally strong felt that illuminates beautifully …Combine fibres, multiple layers,  felt lace, prefelt, colourwork and stitching to construct a striking interior design piece.

Saturday Evening during the retreat: Ottawa/Gatineau Felt Gathering
Saturday, October 4th.  6pm-10pm
Felt United Project plus social gathering.....more details to follow!

General Information:
We will be working together in a very beautiful and peaceful setting….encouraging the feeling of a true retreat time, with immersion in our environment and craft.  In the evenings we can continue felting, talking fibre and creativity, or simply enjoy the quiet space.  There is basic onsite accommodation for up to five people, or you can attend on a day basis. All participants are welcome to stay or join in for the evening free felting time.  Please contact me for more information if you need accommodation. 
Retreat fee is $375.00.
Included is a hearty, local Fall lunch on each day.  We’ll do our best to accommodate special dietary requests- just let us know and we’ll see what we can do!  
Materials lists will be sent out with registration information or you can have the materials provided for a $65.00 materials fee.
About the space:
The retreat will be held at a beautiful cottage set on three forested acres on Meech Lake in Gatineau Park. There is plenty of room for people to work comfortably, and to find a quiet space as they desire. The Fall colours will be at their peak (hopefully!) and we’ll be able to work either indoors or out, with a lake and forest view to inspire us.  As time permits, participants can walk along the lake, go canoeing, or take a hike up the hill beside the creek on the hundreds of kilometres of trails than run from the trailhead next door. This is a place that is very special to me, and it is my favourite time of year to be there- I am looking forward to sharing it with you!  The cottage is only 10 minutes from Chelsea, which has some very nice restaurants and café’s, and 20 minutes from Ottawa, Canada's capital city. 

About the retreat schedule:
The class time will be from 9:00am- 5:00pm. A  full, dynamic and energetic session,  balanced by some slow time through the day to enjoy the surroundings, journal, stretch, and relax.  Free felting time in the evenings are often a very rich part of the retreat experience;  to deepen our relationships, discuss the technique shared through the day as well as our own fibre experiences, or just chat over a bottle of wine.  Evenings are open to everyone participating in the retreat.
Please email me if you would like to reserve a space. Your space will be confirmed on receipt of the full fee via PayPal or cheque.  The retreat has a maximum attendance of 8. Payments must be received in full by September 13th.
I look forward to felting with you this Fall!
Warm wishes,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rift : A SHIFT dress

  The layouts in this series of dress sculptures were so complex. There were often multiple layers of resists, or else multiple layers of patterning. The designs had to be thought through in that reverse thinking way required when working with resists, and also with transparencies, opacities, and inclusions.  My brain was burning with keeping it all held in order to get to the end result. Thinking through on what will show on which side of the garment and where, and what will happen if it is overdyed. Where would each design element fall on the body when shaped into the 3 dimensional and worn. Left and right, front and back, inside and outside....all parts were relevant...all at one time. 

 The lightest layers of wool roving made me think of skin tissue healing. So relevant to this dress full of (beautiful) scars and my intentions. 

   This dress is made of shadowy shards. Like flakes of obsidian. But cradled within a softer surface....Black and white forming shades of grey over time.  Geology is just so prominent in many of the SHIFT dresses. This piece has elements of all rock formations, sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic; tectonic shifting, escarpments...  It is hard, sharp and cut, but softened around the edges in overall dress form, like a tumbled stone.  Geode like inclusions; seams of precious earth....scars, dreams, in general. Not simple.
 They are pushed up and out of the base textile; carved and twisted through the fulling.  Complicated, (if you chose to think about it) like the shadowy base.

  This dress is sinuous and feminine on the wearer, and full of tactile metaphors.  I like that it can be just a beautiful dress, and can also hang as a sculptural form filled with intention.  

  The techniques used in this piece will be part of the Fall felting retreat in Quebec this October. I'm trying to get the details posted about this as soon as possible....there's lots going on right now...lots of big events vying for my attention...but this is up next! 

  It's not all serious thoughts and introspection! I've got lots of plant dyeing lined up for the next few days...some summer lightness...warmth, sunshine and flowers; folly and experimentation!
Warm wishes, 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Greater than the sum of the parts...

Migration with Day Tripper and Night Dance in the background

 The SHIFT exhibition opening was a wonderful night! The show was very well attended by an enthusiastic audience.  To open the show, only Barbra Edwards's dramatic paintings were in the exhibition space.

Beautiful World and Form Speaks to Form
both 54 x 48" oil / wax on panel
Grey Rhythm 48 x 72"
oil on canvas
with  Confluence in foreground

  My pieces came out individually on models, bringing each piece to life with sculpture. After each model walked though the gathered crowd, she took her position in the exhibition, as the pieces would be displayed for the duration of the show.  Then everyone had the opportunity to move into the exhibition space to interact with and view in detail the paintings and felt pieces.  It was a fantastic evening!

  Barbra and I worked separately on our pieces through the spring/early summer and only shared hints of our directions in our work. We had never met before being paired for this exhibition and only met twice throughout the process, each working in our separate studios, on our separate islands. In our occasional conversations though, the most amazing relationships in our work began to become apparent, as well as  commonalities in life experiences.  Barbra's palette is bold, but always has an earthy base. My use of plant dyes is the same. This guaranteed some cohesion in our exhibition. But the degree of cohesion could not have been foretold or expected to be as amazing as it is here.

L to R
SHIFT #3 with Rift
Creature Love (48 x 60" oil on canvas) with Stratum in foreground
Day Tripper
60 x 43"
mixed media with oil

Rift with SHIFT #1 (diptych)16 x 32"  oil/with wax
  What was the most remarkable surprise and continues to give me such great pleasure is just how strong and beautiful the relationships our pieces have with one another.  Each of Barbra's pieces has a unique connection with one of mine, through form, line and colour. 

Beautiful World 54 x 48" oil /wax on panel with Hegira (right)

 Great and insightful reviews in the newspaper today, and two of my pieces sold!  I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity to get to know Barbra and her work. And to the Salt Spring Arts Council for pairing us in this exhibition.  I'll be etching out some quiet moments at the gallery over the next week to soak up the relationship of these pieces. Together, greater than the sum of the parts...

You can read our artists statements here.

And see more of Barbra's work here.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Last Dress

Yesterday I finished the last piece for my exhibition...a little background for you, written as I worked. 
Here I am....on the day of the photo shoot of my most recent work. One day before the installation, and two days before the big opening and fashion show.

And I'm taking a slow day to finish the last dress. This dress was actually the first one I started as I prepared for this exhibition. I got it all laid up on my table and then realized it was going to take me weeks to make all the parts. I needed my work table in that time, so the first dress was carefully rolled up and set aside...until now.

I like the way this dress has been in process throughout the creation of all of the pieces for this exhibition. It is the dress that is the most time intensive, with lots of handfelting and slow plant dyeing.

Each "wishbone" takes about 15 minutes to make and there about 60 of them on the dress.  Each of the three ends needs to be carefully hand worked to attach it to the body.

Once fully felted the surface result is a little wild, very sculptural. Interlaced and overlapping, crawling, leaping, edging their way up and around the dress surface. In my mind these are wishbones, and they are also tracks. They cast shadows, changing with the angle of the viewers perception.  They're a little ugly...and also beautiful.

This dress was dyed with iron and tansy that I collected this morning while walking up the hill and looking out over a gorgeous sea, with mountains beyond. I am so happy to have the time to work through this slow completion process today, at the end of a long journey of thinking, and planning and felting. 

 And this evening, a group of beautiful women joined me and brilliant photographer Amy Melious, for a photo shoot of the finished pieces. It was wonderful to see these brought to life, so very different from standing on mannequins in my studio. I very much appreciate the time and effort put in by everyone for this shoot. What a setting and company to end the day...and the work for this exhibition.

The last dress....a full cycle of creative process as well as of story and place.

I'll try to fill you in on the other SHIFT dresses in between in the next few weeks!
Warm wishes,