Sunday, 11 December 2016

Winter Craft Courses at NSCCD

I will be teaching a number of classes at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design as part of their Winter 2017 program. 

Irresistible Dye Techniques
Image of dyed fabric by Sarah 

Simply Irresistible Dye Techniques
Mondays, January 23 – February 27 
6:30-9:30 (18 hours/6 weeks)
$185 + materials fee $50 payable to the instructor on first day of class
Class Size: 6 (no experience necessary)

Registration Closes January 16

Simply Irresistible covers a variety of resist dye techniques including the Japanese art of shibori (stitching, wrapping, and knotting), and ombré gradient methods using indigo. We will create silk wool and cotton samples using natural dyes and experiment with alternative dye methods such as rust. Thermo-treated techniques to create three dimensional works through the use of heat are demonstrated. 

Prints Charming Screen Printing
Image of screen print by Willa

Prints Charming
Saturdays, February 11 – March 4
1:00-4:00 (12 hours/4 weeks)
$125 + materials fee $50 payable to the instructor on first day of class
Class Size: 6 (no experience necessary)

Registration Closes February 6

Design and print your own fabrics! In this course we will use screenprinting, block printing and various resist methods. This course will encourage artistic exploration of ideas using basic colour theory to mix your own colours and experiment with transparent and opaque print pastes. The skills developed in this course can be applied in the studio or on the kitchen table. 

Design and Print your own tea towel
image of block print by Natasha

Design and Print Your Own Tea Towel 
Saturday & Sunday, January 28 & 29
1:00-4:00 (6 hours/2 days)
$60 + materials fee $50 payable to the instructor on first day of class
Class Size: 6 (no experience necessary)

Registration Closes January 23

NEW! In this two-day course students will explore shapes, colours, and layering using simple stencils to create their own personalized tea towels. 

Furoshiki wrapping cloth
Image of design by Kate 

Furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth)
Saturday & Sunday, April 1 & 2 
1:00-4:00 (6 hours/2 days)
$60 + materials fee $50 payable to the instructor on first day of class
Class Size: 6 (no experience necessary)

Registration Closes March 27

Students can make their own reusable and recyclable Japanese wrapping cloths, both beautiful and functional used for a lunch bag, ecowrapping technique, or clothing garment. Students will experiment with different resist dying techniques using indigo dye on silk and cotton fabric. 

Zen Stitching
Image of design by Ingeborg

Zen Stitching: Embroidery as Textile Art
Sundays, February 26 and March 5 
1:00-4:00 (6 hours/2 days)
$60 + materials fee $30 payable to the instructor on first day of class
Class Size: 6 (no experience necessary)

Registration Closes February 19

NEW!  Embroidery can be a traditional, sustainable, a simple repetitive act, allowing time for reflection and bringing a meaningful and thoughtful approach to textile practice. In this two-day course students will explore ways in which to slow down by using simple techniques, reusing and re-inventing materials and limiting equipment. Take the time to think about the practical and decorative techniques of mending.

To enrol in any of these courses, call Alexis, the Studio Coordinator, at 902-492-2524

Or register in person! Come see us at 1061 (Mary E Black Gallery) or 1096 (The Studios) Marginal Rd.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Contemporary Jewellery Exchange 2016

Earlier in the year I was selected to participate in the Contemporary Jewellery Exchange 2016. The exchange has been running for a couple of years now. It is an art project where 370 artists from all over the world were paired and asked to create a unique contemporary piece of jewellery for each other. 

Walking on Eggshells
Bone, Keralfex porcelain, sterling silver
39 x 9 x 1 cm
I was paired with Stephanie Ormon, from the UK, who also works in a diverse range of materials to create jewellery.

Bone detail
When we have completed the project we are asked to wrap it and I chose to use one of the furoshiki cloths created in the class I taught a couple of weekends ago. The recyclable wrapping cloth is made of cotton, shibori techniques are used to create the pattern with indigo dye.

I can't wait to receive my piece from Stephanie!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Furoshiki workshop at NSCCD

Cotton with Indigo  
This weekend I taught a two day workshop to make furoshiki Japanese wrapping cloths. Working with cotton and indigo dye we experimented with different shibori (resist dying techniques) to create beautiful fabrics that can be used as an alternative for wrapping paper.

Both beautiful and functional they can be used as a lunch bag alternative, a eco-wrapping technique, and even a clothing garment. The fabulous thing about furoshiki is that the fabric can be as special as the gift inside and it can be reused many times.

The end result is a gift that keeps on giving.

Some of the wrapped fabric drying after being dipped in Indigo

I received some great feedback about the course:

"Thank you Kate. I really enjoyed your workshop & I am hooked. I think I could easily spend a LOT of time doing shibori! It is really fun & inspiring, gets my creative juices flowing.

I am anxiously awaiting the unveiling of the rest of my designs tomorrow & will send photos." - Lynda 

For more information: 

Pinterest board for shibori designs - a collection of ideas and techniques 

Facebook page - A place where workshop participants share images of their creation

Furoshiki - fabulous site on ways to fold and wrap your present using cloth 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Erosion 1.6 : the most beautiful is the object that does not exist

It seems that as soon as I take a breath after my MFA thesis exhibition came down, I turned around and installed a new work in the annual group NSCAD MFA show 'MIXMASTERS'.

The MFA group was divided into four topics: 


I chose to be part of Experiences of Rules, Systems & Frameworks, together with 3 other artists we spoke about how our art practice fits into this category. 

This reminded me of a poem by Zbigniew Herbert called Study of the Object.

“Mark the place
where stood the object
which does not exist
with a black square
it will be
a simple dirge
for the beautiful absence
in a quadrangle”

Erosion 1.6 started from the idea that when a digital file is repeatedly opened, saved and closed that the quality of the information is reduced. This is known as generation loss, where file size increased and the introduction of artefacts increases entropy of data through each generation. 

I can see connections between the loss of memory in a digital file and to that within human memory.

I started to think about how we store our memories and that everything these days is being digitally archived – yet the digital storage is not always that reliable or effective, as technology constantly improves and changes.

This has become particularly obvious when I attempted this project using an old (although once state of the art technology). Files saved on DVD are becoming obsolete, as is the software to capture it. Burning, or transfering the movie file became an important part of the project as I struggled to do something seemingly straightforward. Many computers no longer have DVD drives and even software to burn these files can be difficult to obtain.

Museums these days are displaying their artefacts on screens and we no long have the physical object as reference. The artefacts themselves are becoming obsolete as they are replaced by a digital representation.

A frame work in technological terms is the implementation of a standard structure of an application for a specific operating system.

My current method for the 222 Grips for a Stone series (in which this project continues to explore oblivion and liminality). Inspired by 10 Rules for Teachers and Students that was popularised by John Cage, some of the rules I set for myself include:
  • collecting found objects
  • working only with these objects to create an assemblage
  • work intuitively
  • repetition working on the same idea
  • which is the grip.
  • Embrace uncertainty
  • consider everything an experiment
  • mistakes are where the exciting things happen   
  • be self disciplined
  • All rules are meant to be broken

I find that within this method of working that setting parameters makes it easier to work within a guideline and the constraints themselves enable and enhance creativity.  

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Beech St Children's Centre response to MFA exhibition Erratic

Beech St Children's Centre's creative response to my MFA exhibition Erratic

I received a lovely message from Justin West who works at the Beech St Children's centre

" Beech Street Children's Centre visit your exhibit At the Anna Leonowens gallery They were inspired to create their own work in response to your work This is done with string, modelling clay, and instead of nails we found old marker caps Our children responded to your materials They also laid down underneath your work and walked around it a few times - getting all angles of it They walked away and wanted to thank you for sharing your work with us and the public - this was the first time these children went to a gallery and we will be back for sure"

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Erratic - the opening night

Erratic is a philosophical investigation about stone and its relationship to the development of the human mind. The term is used to describe stones that have been moved by geological forces or to describe unpredictable behaviour. This concept is explored using found objects combined with clay that are subjected to a series of traumatic yet transformative events, which often result in unpredictable outcomes. The metamorphic process that distorts the object is a metaphor for the human condition reminding us that change is inevitable, and the dissolution of order creates a fluid, malleable situation where one’s sense of identity dissolves, bringing about disorientation and the possibility of new perspectives.

After 2.5 years of dedicated hard work my MFA Thesis Exhibit opened on Monday 31 October at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax. 

The hanging objects (made from clay and found objects) were suspended from the ceiling with a meter between each object. I was hoping that this method of display would encourage the audience to engage with each object, as each one piece of work was unique, with traces of fingerprints that gripped the clay along with the found object that became another grip of the clay object. 

To my delight everyone walked through the installation, and as a result the hanging objects would sway slightly, moved by the displaced air. 

The exhibition is receiving positive feedback, including the above sketch by of the MFA crew sitting amongst the installation whilst I talked about the work.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Erratic - The installation of the exhibition

I was incredibly fortunate to have access to the gallery ahead of the usual Sunday installation due to Reading week. The gallery was closed during this time which allowed for time to paint the wood scaffolding that was then attached to the ceiling. Because of the age of the building I needed to build a support for my clay objects. The ceilings are incredibly high (theres a 12ft ladder in the background). 

The next step was to then attach the ropes that hung from the ceiling. This was done at the same time as the scaffolding to prevent our legs from getting tired.

Each of the clay objects weighs approximately 5 kg, with 45 in the installation. The clay objects contain found rusty metal, some of which were old tools and some were so rusty it was hard to tell what their original use was.  

Susie counting my 'grips for a stone'

Despite working within the parameters of creating 222 grips for a stone, I haven't counted how many I have made so far. As I work on the project, the number starts to become irrelevant. Suzie counted 66, 45 of these were used in the exhibition, and the remaining 21 were taken back to my studio. 

Im guessing there must be close to 200 by now. Ill let you know when I do finally count them!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

CFAT Scholarship: Video Editing

This week we learnt the basics to video editing using the Adobe Premier Pro software.

I combined imagery taken whilst travelling through Iceland and my animated rotating rock. This is the result.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Wabi Sabi and the Art of Imperfection

Last week I touched upon the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi that is the world view based on the idea of transience and imperfection.

Wabi Sabi
Shino glaze Cone 6

I find the nation ofWabi Sabi and the ways in which to achieve it incredibly exciting. It is the idea of letting go and letting the materials talk for themselves. There is an element of chance and the unexpected. When my ceramic pieces are fired in a reduction atmosphere kiln, I can control the results to a certain extent, however it is always difficult to predict exactly how a piece will be fired. Opening the doors of a kiln after firing is always an exciting event to see what has happened.

Wabi Sabi
Shino glaze. I love the pinhole effect
A reduction firing requires the use of a gas kiln, which depletes the oxygen atmosphere which means that the glaze and clay body will trap carbon which can affect the colouring of the glaze and clay. I enjoy working with Shino, a Japanese glaze which can be white although due to the carbon trapping process can also become darker and sometimes metallic.

Detail of the shino glaze

These are some of the results of my most recent Cone 6 reduction firing.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Artist: Susie Brandt + Studio Visit

The super summer visiting artist series at NSCAD continues with Susie Brandt participating in the artist in residence program and also exhibiting at the Anna Leonowen's Gallery.

Susie Brandt

Susie is a textile artist and her exhibition is a work in progress consisting of piles of donated worn clothing and textiles that will be processed using scissors and her hand-crank sewing machine into rope. The exhibition is an interactive experience where the audience is invited to participate in the making of the rope, but cutting up post consumer textile waste and twisting it into rope. 

image from
who participated in one of Susie's projects
at Haystack Mountain School of Craft

About her process, Brandt states, “ropemaking is a basic gesture in textile production. The phenomenon of twisted and plied fibers resulting in a strong flexible line dates to 1700 BC. Because lines of rope can be used for hoisting, fastening, and climbing, rope had transformative effects on pre-industrial communities. Considered Post-industrially, rope offers an entry point into textile issues around locality, labor and waste/re-use.”
I have been very fortunate to meet Susie and she visited my studio to chat about my work and provide feedback. I find it is always helpful to get receive external advice as this provides opportunities to talk about my work which helps to tease out areas that I overlook.

One topic that Susie brought up was the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi which is the world view based on acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, suffering and emptiness or absence of self-natureCharacteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

I was first introduced to the idea of Wabi Sabi by my ceramics teacher (and amazing artist) Ian Jones who taught me to love the imperfections in my ceramics as I was learning. This was incredibly insightful since I have a tendency to be a perfectionist and was attempting to make 'perfect' ceramic pieces.

Having Susie reflect that my pieces also capture the delicate balance of grace and ugliness made me realise just how influential Ian's teachings were. Below are some very recent pieces that I have been working on which reflect the wabi sabi aesthetic.



Thursday, 7 July 2016

Artist: Anna Hepler + Studio Visit

Also last week I was incredibly lucky to spend some studio time with Anna Hepler, who is also exhibiting her work at the Anna Leonowen's Gallery and an Artist in Residence at the Ceramic Studio. Anna is a sculptor and print maker who creates large forms using a variety of media. When it comes to using different materials she believes it is very important to keep an element of unfamiliarity in her work, to keep her work more 'honest' or 'vulnerable'.

Double Hung
Anna Hepler

Anna's work is incredibly inspiring and there is a great interview which talks about her creative processes.

Whilst the work in the Anna Leonowen's Gallery are explorations in ceramics, she is continuing to explore the 'slumped' form, like in the image above.

List of Works

I have found the visiting artist studio visits incredibly insightful and helpful to give critical comment and feedback about my work as an external 'eye' provides clarity and a new way of looking at things.

We have been experiencing thick summer sea fogs recently - this is a view from my studio window.
It generally looks like this...

I think I may need to upscale these wire sculptures if I want to create more of a dramatic impact! 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Artist: Meryl McMaster + Studio Visit

This week I had the pleasure of a studio visit from Meryl McMaster, who is currently exhibiting her work at the Anna Leonowen's Gallery as part of the NSCAD visiting artist series. Meryl is a photographer who uses the medium for self discovery, exploring how we construct our sense of self through lineage, history and culture.

Second Self

In her series 'Second Self' which is exhibited in the gallery, the artworks reconsider identity through portraiture incorporating drawing and sculpture. The process of making this work is fascinating and goes through a number of steps to reach the finished piece. First, she asks each participant to draw a self portrait of themselves, using a line drawing where the pen is not allowed to be lifted up off the paper. She then recreates these images using wire, which act like a mask when worn by the real person.  

She is inspired by Alexander Calder, who explored the use of wire in his work through sculpture, mobiles and jewellery. I too, love working with wire, and that is perhaps one of the many reasons why I am so attracted to her work. 

I have been exploring wrapping objects with wire as part of my exploration for 222 Grips for a Stone series. 

copper wire, found coal
Jogging Fossil Beach

copper wire, found stone
Bay of Fundy

copper wire, found wood
urban Halifax

As part of an ongoing exploration, I am interested to see what happens to each of these objects when exposed to heat.

I received some great feedback from Meryl when she visited me in my studio and I look forward to applying it to my work.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Jeweller: Jan Smith + Studio Visits

I had the pleasure of a studio visit with Jan Smith, who is a brilliant jeweller and printmaker visiting NSCAD as part of the University's Artist in Residence summer series.

Enamel Brooch and drawing by
Jan Smith 
Jan combines mark-making in metal with enamelling techniques with fascinating results ending as wearable jewellery pieces. She is based in British Columbia where she also teaches.

Because of her interdisciplinary approach, I found her feedback to my studio work incredibly helpful.  

One of the key things she suggested was to tidy away all the 'conversations' I was currently exploring (I have about 10 different directions my work could go in) and focus on just one of the conversations. This is harder to do than it sounds, and I have 'hidden' half my work behind sheets so that I cannot see it and be distracted by it. There are now about four 'conversations' which will eventually need to be paired down into one. 

This is a photo of my studio before her visit. It looks quite tidy - but within this are too many ideas for me to focus on over the next 6 months.  There is probably a lifetime of exploration within this space, which is why I am thinking of doing a Phd next - but more about that later. 

Studio space before Jan's feedback

So I took Jan's advice and did a BIG tidy up. Ill post an 'after' picture soon.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Shibori - the art of binding fabric

Most of us are familiar with the beautiful effects of the ancient Japanese art of shibori. Fabric is dipped in rich indigo blue with white organic patterns created as a result of the binding and resist methods applied to the cloth.

The Simply Irresistible Dye class have been experimenting with the indigo dye vat throughout the duration of the course. With an array delightful designs to share with the class we all 'ooh and ahh' as we discuss how we achieved the desired affect.

Fabric folded and a resist is formed using wooden sticks

It struck me that the binding of the fabric is also an art form, often under appreciated and overlooked as the shibori fabric (the end result) which is what we strive to achieve.  

The wooden blocks used to create a resist have also been dyed by the indigo and become beautiful artefacts in the process, retaining the memory of where the bands were placed to hold the wood in place.

The lines show where elastic bands were used
to hold the wood in place on the fabric. 

These binding techniques could be applied to my fascination and exploration of 222 grips for a stone.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Dying with Rust

The fun continues in the Irresistible Dye Class I teach at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.   This week we explored dying with rust. Its quite a simple process and it achieves some fabulous results. 

To start we laid down a large plastic bag and upon this we placed our fabric that had been sprayed with a 50/50 water vinegar solution.  

Fabric with rusty huddles from an old loom laid upon it

Then we placed the rusty objects on the fabric and covered the rusty pieces with another bit of fabric. This was all wrapped in the plastic bag to prevent the fabric from drying out, the dampness encourages the objects to rust onto the fabric.

The rusty fabric after a week of soaking

We left the fabric for a week, and the above is what happened in the space of 7 days.

Each layer of fabric reacts differently to the process

Tori displaying her rust dyed fabrics 
For more images of the results of our rust dying visit the Irresistible Dye Facebook page.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

222 Grips for a stone - the imprint of touch


222 Grips for a Stone - unfired cone 6 stoneware clay 
  1. 1
    a firm hold; a tight grasp or clasp.
    "his arm was held in a vicelike grip"
    "a tight grip"
  2. 2
    a part or attachment by which something is held in the hand.
    "handlebar grips"

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Contemporary Jewellery Exchange - My exchange partner

Brooch by Stephanie Ormon

Meet work created by Stephanie Ormon, my exchange partner for the 2016 Contemporary Jewellery Exchange.

Stephanie is based in the UK and creates jewellery works using mix media. The above brooch is a combination of ceramics, enamelling and sterling silver.

Im incredibly excited to be paired with someone with a similar aesthetic and who works with a variety of mediums. If you would like to see more of Stephanie's work visit her Facebook page.

Thursday, 19 May 2016


Shibori is a Japanese resist dying technique, which produces patterns on fabric. Resists are created by binding , stitching,  folding , twisting , or compressing the cloth.

Kimono made using different shibori techniques

There are an infinite number of ways one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth for shibori, and each way results in very different patterns. Each method is used to achieve a certain result, but each method is also used to work in harmony with the type of cloth used. Therefore, the technique used in shibori depends not only on the desired pattern, but the characteristics of the cloth being dyed. Also, different techniques can be used in conjunction with one another to achieve even more elaborate results. 

I have been enamoured by this ancient art for many years, and held a solo exhibition inspired by an exchange trip to Japan, Fish Bells and Teapots in 2001 of kimono's created using these techniques. 

I am now teaching these techniques as part of the Irresistible Dye Class at NSCCD - and we are having a wonderful time. The results are documented on the Class Facebook page. 


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