Friday, 23 June 2017

Stand Back 5 Feet - Paris Exhibition

Study of the Object
Cotton on silk organza 

I was invited to participate in the exhibition “stand back 5 feet/ tenez vous à 5 pied en avant” by curators Evan Peacock, NSCAD MFA candidate and Levana Schutz, a visiting exchange MFA student from the BeauxArt academy in Paris. They proposed a double exhibition between the Atelier Rhème exhibition space in Paris and the Anna Leonowens gallery in Halifax. The shows will feature work exchanged by artists from both locations.

Artists have been asked to respond to the title of the show with a new work. Although this name maintains relevancy towards the mathematical space between Paris and Halifax, the title primarily refers to the ephemeral state of meaning caught between two languages and two spaces. This occurs through movement, distance, and translation. Perfect translations will not be possible. This offset between the movements of languages is the focus of “stand back 5 feet/ tenez vous à 5 pied en avant”. 

Study of the Object
Hung on window in studio
Cotton on silk organza

In response to the conceptual theme I have started creating work that explores binary code translated into stitch (using french knots and running stitch) onto silk organza, which through the very nature of translating code into stitch the reading of this is lost or at least difficult to understand. 

My favourite poem by Zbigniew Herbert called Study of the Object has been decoded by thread.  Whilst I am not entirely sure of the final outcome, it is likely it will be combined with digital imagery in some way.

Friday, 16 June 2017

PIN 7 exhibition at ANCA Gallery, Canberra

Felt, cotton, stainless steel wire, purple turquoise

I am delighted to share with you that my work will be featured in PIN 7, is the seventh annual brooch exhibition at ANCA Gallery in Canberra, Australia. The pins continue to explore the theme 222 Grips for a stone, a 2 year fascination and investigation of different ways to 'grip' a stone. In this part of the series, the stones are semi-precious, and a variety of stitching methods have been used to fasten them in place.

# 174
Felt, cotton, stainless steel pin, quartz crystal
The concept of reducing scale and honing in on a wearable miniature platform appealed to artists from a broad range of practices including sculptors, printmakers, painters, ceramicists, silversmiths, machine makers, photographers, wood workers and glass artists. Following the success of the
inaugural exhibition ANCA ran ‘PIN’ exhibitions in 2012 (rePIN), 2013 (PINup), 2014 (PINHaH4), 2015 (sPIN) and 2016 (PIN SIX).
Felt, cotton, stainless steel wire, opalite 
ANCA Gallery is running this hugely popular exhibition for the seventh time in 2017. PIN 7 will be exhibited at ANCA Gallery from Wednesday 28 June to Sunday 9 July 2017. 
Felt, cotton, stainless steel wire, quartz druzy and Nova Scotian pebble

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Zen Stitching : Embroidery as Textile Art

Few of us have the luxury these days to idly sit and contemplate, dwelling within the present whilst being creative with our hands. Zen Stitching aims to provide some space and time where we can learn the traditional techniques of embroidery whilst at the same time allowing ourselves to slow down. 

Sampler of some of the techniques covered in the workshop

I have just completed a 2 day weekend workshop at the NSCCD where we explored a number of stitches (running stitch, back stitch, chain stitch, stem stitch, blanket stitch, satin stitch, leaf stitch and french knots to name a few!) 

The reverse side of the embroidery is just as interesting as the front

One of the participants asked how to cover the reverse side of the embroidery when using the hoop to display the embroidery. As a textile artist, I am just as fascinated by the reverse side of the material and when observing textile pieces in a gallery will try to peek behind it to see the back. Quite often this will reveal how a piece is put together - and it is just as interesting, although in a slightly different and messy way. In some senses I can relate this to life (and particularly on social media these days) how we present ourselves to the world, can quite often be the reverse on the inside. 

Being fortunate to have grown up in a family where embroidery was taught at an early age, it is an art form I return to periodically. Having just dedicated the time to share these techniques at the workshop I now have the bug to continue working on my sampler / cloth journal and create a bit of Zen magic. 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Suspended Objects at Uncommon Common Art

My work Suspended Objects was selected for Uncommom Common Art, an annual site responsive event that has been running for the past 10 years. Uncommon Common Art (UCA) brings visual art out of institutions and into rural communities of Kings County, Nova Scotia between June 1 to October 31, highlighting the exceptional location of the Minas Basin Valley. 

Uncommon Common Art was initiated by Terry Drahos, originally from Chicago who is actively promoting art in the Nova Scotian community by encouraging artists to exhibit and install work in the public arena.

This year the event is curated by Angela Henderson, interdisciplinary Canadian artist and educator. The theme for 2017 was:

"Drawing on the rich geological, historical, and the possible futures of Kings County, Uncommon Common Art 2017 seeks public art installations that frame this landscape through concepts of the terrestrial and the subterranean.

The vast tidal range of the Minas Basin situates the exhibition on the threshold of the shore where the landscape, in a constant state of flux, is continuously reshaped. Amidst subterranean layers of human habitation and a broad historical context, a range of locations await the artists’ response. Within the interconnected threads of these communities, Uncommon Common Art 2017 raises questions of how site-specific public art can respond/reveal a multiplicity of perspectives within the spaces we inhabit. Can art in public space unearth histories that are hidden or contested? What are the immediate and long term effects on public space where art is situated? Does the artwork continue to resonate once it is removed?"

20 art works have been selected and are installed throughout the Kings County region and a guidebook has been produced that  leads residents and visitors to explore the art installations in our communities, nature trails, and country lanes. For added fun, geocaches have been included hidden near some of the art sites. 

Suspended Objects (Stop 15) is located in Minors Marsh in the town of Kentville. A continuation of the exploration of my thesis exhibition, the objects when suspended from the bridge the objects become weightless and distorted; dancing within time and space upon the reflection in the water below. In the reflection we have no terms of reference and our understanding of these objects becomes distorted. This idea refers to memory, and how things fade over time and something a seemingly solid as a stone will change over time. 

The river below is effected by the Bay of Fundy tides, which has some of the highest tides in the world and can reach a peak of around 16 meters high. Some of the suspended objects are made from unfired clay, whilst others are fired and more permanent. I am interested to see how the installation will weather for the duration of the event, which runs until the end of October 2017. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Shiori Patterns : Itajime

Itajime is the shibori process of folding fabric and then clamping it between boards or sticks. We have been exploring these techniques in my Irresistible Dyeing Class at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design. We used indigo which is such a magical dye to work with. I love watching the magic as the fabric turns from green to blue as it oxides when it is removed from the indigo dye bath. 

The dyed fabric needs to sit for 24 hours (to allow the indigo to 'set') and hearing the 'oohs and ahhhs' as the fabrics are untied and unfolded when the process is finished is such a delight.  

Below are some of the before and after results.

Creating a resist with C clamps

C Clamp resist pattern

Jam jar top and bamboo sticks resist

Jam jar top and bamboo sticks pattern

wooden block and elastic bands resist

wooden block and elastic bands pattern

Friday, 19 May 2017

NEW!! 2 Day Weekend Tapestry Workshop

I wanted to share with you some of the exciting textile courses I am teaching at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.

The 2 Day Weekend Tapestry Workshop is a fun course where we learn various weaving techniques suitable for creating both geometric and organic designs while exploring form, colour and texture. 
Tapestry weaving is portable, fun and expressive technique with endless possibilities to create fabric for rugs, cushion covers and decorative wall hangings. The technique is incredibly appealing as the yarns can be used to 'paint' a picture across the supporting warp.

By the end of the two days we aim to have finished a small wall hanging. 

Join me for more creative adventures. I'd love to see you there. 


COSTS : $60 + materials fee $30 payable to the instructor on first day of class

WHEN : 12:30 - 3:30pm Sunday 28 May & 4 June 

WHERE: Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, Halifax  


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Rust Fabric Dyeing

It is week 3 of my Irresistible Dyeing Techniques class at the NSCCD. In the first couple of weeks we explored different shibori techniques using indigo dye, and last week we created 3D fabrics using thermo-plastic techniques and I demonstrated how to use rusty objects to create beautiful designs and patterns on fabric. 

At the beginning of each class we always have a 'show and tell' where we share the outcomes of our methods from the previous week. This is a lovely way to learn from each other, as we all bring our unique life experiences with us to the class room. 

This week, one of my students brought in a large panel of fabric (approximately 60cm x 60cm) to show her exquisite rust design that was inspired by my rust demonstration. It is created using an old metal ceiling tile she collected on her travels. Isn't it lovely!

And the best part is that the technique is very simple to do. 

How Does It Work?
The rust-dyeing process is extremely simple.  When a rusty object is in contact with fabric, fibre or paper, it leaves an imprint. Place your rusty items on fabric, wet it with water and vinegar to hasten the oxidisation (rusting) process, and leave the fabric and rusty item together until we are satisfied with the colour or pattern. Then remove the item, and wash the fabric. The whole process takes only a few days and requires little effort.

  • Fabric - cotton and silk are the best fabrics for dyeing. Wool fabric will take dye, but the rust tends to colour it a bit harshly; a wool/cotton blend can be a better choice, if that works for your project.
  • Plastic kitchen gloves
  • Spray bottle filled with a mixture of 50 percent water and 50 percent vinegar
  • Plastic bags or wrap (optional)
  • Plastic bin, box or tray
  • Rusty items which can be used over, and over, and over again.
  • You can even rust non-rusty iron items. To aid the rusting process place in a shallow pan with a bit of salt, water, and vinegar, and in a few weeks, it was fabulously rusty and ready for dyeing.


Cover your working surface with plastic bags or wrap. Rust will also dye your clothes, so wear old clothes that you don’t mind staining.

Lightly spray your fabric with the vinegar/water mixture.
Place your rusty items on the fabric in any pattern you like.
Place another piece of fabric on top.
Keep your fabric slightly moist for the next few days; this will help the rust designs to develop. (Tip: Weight down the fabric with small items such as rocks or bottles if you want to make your imprint clearer.)

Lightly spray your fabric with the vinegar/water mixture (1:1 ratio). You can add extra vinegar at any time, to help speed the dyeing process.

Now, wrap loosely with a plastic bag to keep the fabric moist, which hastens the dyeing process, but you also want to make sure air can reach the fabric as well. Oxygen is necessary for the rust to develop.

Length of the Dyeing Process
Check your fabric once a day or so; make sure it’s damp, and see how the colour is developing.

For light colours, you may only want to leave your dyeing project for one day.

For very dark intense colour, you might leave it for 4 or 5 days.

If left too long, the rust can eventually damage the fabric, especially if it is thin or delicate. However, if you check your fabric every day or so, you should not have any problems.

I find that the rust-dye develops more quickly in warmer environments; I especially love rust-dyeing outdoors in the summer, as it goes very quickly.

Finishing Your Dyeing Process
When you are satisfied with the colour and patterning of your fabric, remove the rusty items and keep them for use in your next project.

Next, immerse the fabric in a light saline solution; this completely stops the rusting process and neutralizes the fabric. For the solution, I use about one tablespoon of salt in 4 litres of water.

Then wash the fabric as normal – if it’s silk or wool, hand wash with dishwashing liquid and rinse thoroughly. If it’s a cotton or synthetic, you may machine wash and dry as normal.


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