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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Feeling Felt

I recently spent a wonderful week in a workshop with Eva Camacho Sanchez on silk surface techniques and Nuno felting.

The first two days were working with silk, paper, fabric paint and dye. We had a lot of colouring, folding, stamping and plopping our bundles into pots of concoctions, and just plain water, on the stove and unwrapping to be surprised at how things turned out! This was the first time I had created a stamp for fabric, I've done it for Polymer Clay but this was more extensive and fun.

I do my own dyeing, in fact prior to participating in this workshop I had learned more about dyes and dyeing a couple of years ago with Pam de Groot which added some techniques to my dyeing at home.

Besides having a lot of fun with a great group of creative women...including Mags Kandis of 'Indigo and Rust'. She sat at her table behind me so we got to gab which was fun, but I also got to hear about her exploits in her indigo dyeing, working with cotton, natural substances...& just enjoyed creating alongside her.

On my other side was my friend Sonja Fijn who has been into fibre and wearables for decades so we have a lot of fun hanging out together and 'playing'. She came up from Toronto and we attended together.

This is my workspace for the week, I added another table for the felting part so I had lots of space.

I do this at home but with two tables up in my studio I lose floor space...I have three knitting machines set up too!

Here are Mags and Sonja venturing outside into the breeze to set their 'sun' paintings. I tried with some leaves on mine but they blew off, I liked what I got anyway...and used my pieces.

What's neat is that we did so much that even after using lots of my dyed, coloured and stamped pieces for the vest I made I have lots left over for work I've been doing at I did, Sonja and I spent the Saturday after the workshop getting out my paints and silks.

We did dash down to ArtNoise in Kingston looking for a stamp pad, some fabric paint but came up with a big fat zero and headed to, of all places, Michael's...where we got a stamp pad at least. I'll be ordering my Pēbēo fabric paints online...oh well. Art Noise is geared mostly to painters.

I never thought I'd have the patience to make a whole fitted garment using roving and silks as opposed to the prefelt which I dye and make my jackets from...but I did and I loved it so much that I and made two in the following two weeks...two days per vest.

Here is Eva helping me work my fibres together on the back of my vest project.

When I got back in my studio I made buttons for it and am looking forward to wearing it in the coming cooler months.

Now I need to make patterns which are larger (for my clients) and also with more waist shaping...this one was more A line so I worked at the fulling stage to take it down to more waist shaping.

Monday, June 04, 2018

When I Work...When I sleep.

I ended the heading of this post with an exclamation mark...why...well, it's because I'm tired of explaining my day to a number of folk. When I discuss my work/sleep/downtime hours to other colleagues, say, in a quiet time at an art show, I don't have to's just taken as my particular part of the day, which may be different from others.

I got onto this when away sharing a vacation home with some new folk and when I wandered into the kitchen to make coffee for my other half and me at 8am I was greeted with something like 'You slept in! How was that?'....whaaaaa? First...what business is it of theirs when I get up as I didn't have anything planned with them...we were on vacation and all doing our own thing.  Second...why did I go to lengths to explain that this was my normal time of rising and I may have been awake for an hour already and I didn't go to bed like them at 9.30pm and I tend to go to bed at 11.30pm and that's just me!

It's been a long time since I had a Monday to Friday 9-5 job (decades!) and being a self-employed fibre artist and working hard I tend to fall into my own circadian rhythm - going to bed when I'm tired and done working or hanging out in front of the TV watching something on PBS with my other half...getting up when my body naturally wakes up, without an alarm.

Don't get me wrong, I can get up at 4 in the morning if I have to catch a plane, or 6am if I have to be travelling to set up a show or such like. Yes, I can ... but that doesn't mean that hopping into bed at 10pm the night before means I'll actually go to sleep at 10pm...I'll go to sleep at my normal time of somewhere between 11 and midnight but get up at the required time to make that flight...and I've never missed a train, bus or plane yet.

Another thing that affects my sleep patterns is that now I'm past menopause I have disturbed sleep...which I never had before I was fifty...hormones or the lack thereof play a large part I think...not to mention being awakened from a deep sleep by a night sweat which at least are not as frequent or horrendous as they use to be but still happen after 19 years....that'd make anybody tired in the morning.

Being self employed I work alone so I don't interact with anyone while I'm working and my studio is at home so I can lose track of time when I'm absorbed in a project...especially if it's going well. I also work well still at night...I always have. Time was when I was sewing a new outfit or a dress for an occasion I have been known to work into the wee small hours.

In one of my last years at the Toronto One Of A Kind Show I was greeted by a lady walking into my booth with 'You open late, why don't you open earlier?'...well, I bit my tongue, counted to 10 and proceeded to enlighten her. I told her that we were there until 9 or 10 at night and that in the two days before opening day (I believe it was opening day that day) we were all building and setting up our booths, working to build, create, display, fix, paint and all the things that go into a booth. Many of us had packed up our studios far away and driven hours to get there .... then set up.

I went on to tell her that, often, the artists who lived in Toronto would go back to their studios when the show closed at night and get more work done...I knew because that's what I did when I lived in Toronto. I closed my little talk by saying that if she encountered an artist who seemed to be nodding off in their chair it may be because they had been working day and night in the preceding weeks to get ready for the show season...especially if it was Christmas time and they were relying on the next 11 days to make the bulk of their annual income.

....she left quiet and enlightened...and I went back to sleep! (..not really!).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dressing Mannequins.

Wow...I haven't written a post since before Christmas! I have so many things I love to share but have been sick, lazy or snowed in...then doing my actually log in and post.  Here is something that came over my email today from and as someone who has done theatre costume work and loves historic costume, I found this very interesting.

I have a copy of an article (somewhere in my files) from Threads years ago on how to make your own mannequin. It involves getting together with another sewing friend, an old Tshirt and either brown wrapping tape or duct tape. with your best undergarments on and that old T you wrap yourself in the tape then cut up the back (where a zip would be) and take it off. Now you have your shape replicated...stuff it, mount it on an old lamp stand and you have your own dress form to help with fitting an designing your own clothes.  I bought a dress form years ago at a yard sale (saving $$$!) and she's all foam but covered with a basic cotton sloper cover. I can stick pins in her when fitting...I've changed a little and my clients are all different sizes but she's still great to pin my pieces on when working up a custom order.

 This article shows how mannequins are sized, adjusted and altered to suit fashions from different eras. We've had bustle bottoms, corseted bosoms, tiny waists and straight up and down 'boy' shapes over the centuries.

Look at the different busts from this mannequin maker KCI Mannequin. Demonstrating corseted, pre bra, older, younger shapes.

This article is an interesting, useful and fun read....and do go to all the links and go deep.