Rita St. Amant’s Art Is To Dye For

Rita St. Amant’s Art Is To Dye For

"Sunflower" - hand dyed, applique, free motion thread painting

As we journeyed across Canada in search of artists to interview we passed through many larger urban centres, but mostly we came across the smaller towns as we traversed the roads less traveled. Willow Bunch in south central Saskatchewan was one such destination; a small town steeped in history, from its celebrated native son, giant and strongman Édouard Beaupré, to its connections to Jean-Louis Légaré and the famous Sioux leader Sitting Bull. It was here, in this pretty little town nestled within a small valley that we met up with fibre and mixed media artist Rita St. Amant.

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With a little trepidation we left Assiniboia and headed for Willow Bunch; Rita warning us of crater-sized potholes in the road that could swallow up our beloved 25 year old van Arty, or at the very least deliver a concussive blow. Also, Rita thought that her interview was for the day before our planned arrival. As it turned out our faithful chariot made it there in one piece and Rita was also still there, waiting for us with some carrot and zucchini cake, to be chased down with coffee and tea. So far so good.

"Big Muddy Valley" - needle felting

“Big Muddy Valley” – needle felting

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Descending to Rita’s basement studio and gallery one might think of a dark workplace devoid of natural light, but the multitudes of brightly coloured fabrics in every corner and space defy any gloom, and instead greeted our eyes with gusto. Some fabrics rest in their completed forms as quilted art pieces, silks or scarves, while others are waiting to be transformed into her next idea. Rita hand dyes most of her own fabrics with very little usage of commercial product, and will employ different techniques to do so. She uses an ancient Japanese fabric dyeing technique called shibori; a method which can involve folding the fabric in certain configurations or also wrapping it around a foam noodle before dyeing to create stunning patterns. She will also bind stones of differing sizes in the fabric with elastics to create other engaging designs. Varying effects are also created with the use of stenciling, a potato masher, and even used dryer sheets. Rita’s imagination reveals that there are endless possibilities for textile art and the mixed media that one can employ.

"Saskatchewan Tiger Lily" - hand painted on silk

“Saskatchewan Tiger Lily” – hand painted on silk

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Rita related to us that she has always wanted to be an artist, loving to draw as a little girl and then also moving into painting. She was influenced by her parents, with her father enjoying drawing and her mother being very artistic and involved with various crafts. Her first interest into the world of fibre arts came when she was at an art exhibit and was fascinated by the textile arts of Martha Cole, who proved to be a huge influence for Rita. That sparked her initial foray into fibre art and she hasn’t looked back, with over ten years now of creating her own works of art. She notes that the feel of the cloth and the many varied forms of art one can do with it explains why she has taken to the textile arts, but also that the mixed media challenges her to grow and think outside the box. Though a self-taught artist, Rita enjoys the camaraderie that going to art retreats brings; sharing ideas and techniques with other artists.

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Rita and her husband love to travel in their motor-home, and it is on these excursions that they both indulge in their pastimes and passions. He scours the landscape with his metal detector searching for buried treasure in the form of coins, while Rita takes her fabric dyeing process on the road with her. Depending on the area that they find themselves in, Rita will also include what she finds in these natural surroundings to incorporate into her fabric patterns, such as using varieties of leaves and plants. So whether at home or on the road, Rita’s love for her natural surroundings and the colours and textures that it brings is always a source of awe and inspiration for her next project.

Learn more about Rita and her art work in our interview with her shown below. Feel free to share on social media and leave a comment below if you like.

Lucy Reimer is Manitoba’s Fashionista Farmer

Lucy Reimer is Manitoba’s Fashionista Farmer

Farmers and artists are some of the hardest working people I have met, but when you put a farmer and an artist together, what do you have? An Energizer bunny named Lucy Reimer of Lucy Reimer Designs. We have interviewed many artists living in rural settings and more often than not we have found them to be inspired by their surroundings; their art manifesting itself as a representation of the landscape and nature through colour and beauty. So, needless to say, I was intrigued to learn that there was a fashion and accessories designer and maker in the middle of Manitoba’s prairie.

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When we first arrived on their farm we were greeted by both Lucy and her husband Wally. During the farming season they both work 80 acres of land together, and when not driving the combine Wally is a power engineer at the hospital in Brandon and Lucy is down in her studio driving her sewing machine. When we sat at the kitchen table and got to know each other a bit, Gary and I were surprised at how much Wally knew about fashion and accessories. I should clarify; about Lucy’s fashion and accessories. Wally is Lucy’s biggest supporter in her business and we could see how proud he is of her. In fact, when Lucy is on the road heading off to the next craft fair or art show, Wally is always there. He helps her to set up, take down and even spends time showing the Lucy bags and Lucy Lu wraps to potential customers. There may not be a great man behind every great woman, but in this case there is.

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Lucy has been sewing since she was 12 years old. Her mother gave her a couple of words of advice early on; always sew a straight seam and iron as you go. From that point on sewing has been a passion in Lucy’s life. When she got older, got married to Wally and they had children, naturally she would sew her children’s clothes. And although she and Wally knew staying at home with the children was important to them, she wanted to contribute financially. A couple of friends suggested she make clothes and sell them. At first this seemed like a funny idea to Lucy because growing up on a farm often meant you learned to sew; everyone did. Who would buy clothes that she made?

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After meeting Lucy, I couldn’t help but think growing up on a farm gave her more than just the skills to sew, it gave her an entrepreneurial mindset. After all, farming can give many gifts; patience, stamina, tenacity, learning from failure, an appreciation for hard work, and a deep love for something that never goes away. These are the characteristics I see in Lucy and it shows in the craftsmanship of her work. She has been in business creating her Lucy bags for 10 years now and there is no sign of her or her business slowing down. I have met many artists who have a hard time with marketing themselves and their work and even Lucy noted that it wasn’t easy in the beginning. But now she is always thinking about the next thing, she’s not afraid to put herself or her work out there and she thrives on connecting with people. Great qualities to have as a creative entrepreneur.

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For people who know me, I am always going on about how important it is to purchase local food and goods whether you are in business or an end user. I was thrilled to find out from Lucy that she does this as often as possible. It was happenstance that she would meet a buffalo rancher just 45 minutes from where she lives who now supplies her with hides for her Aud buffalo bags (named after the buffalo rancher’s deceased wife Audrey). Also, she met a fellow artist, Laura Hamilton from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan at a craft/art market and loved Laura’s art. The idea to print some of her paintings on leather and then sew them into Lucy bags, aptly named Prairie bags, came about from this meeting between the two artists. And the printer Lucy uses is in Brandon, not some far off land. This is such a great three way collaboration.

Collaboration purses with Laura Hamilton

Collaboration purses with Laura Hamilton

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It is important to Lucy that each person who purchases a Lucy bag walks away with something unique and special to them, therefore no two bags are alike. If you like earthy colours but want a bit of pizzazz then you may find a brown buffalo bag with a purple and green polka dot liner, or maybe the bag itself is a peacock blue colour, or perhaps you are a die hard Saskatchewan Rough Riders fan, well she has a bag for you too. Lucy’s ideas are only limited by her imagination of which it knows no bounds.

We invite you to meet Lucy in person via her video interview and we encourage you to spread the word about Lucy and her work through social media and email. Also we would love it if you would leave a nice comment below. Thanks!

Textile Artist Monika Kinner-Whalen’s Prairie Passions

Textile Artist Monika Kinner-Whalen’s Prairie Passions

There is a popular social media hash tag for those of us that travel with our house on wheels; it’s called #HomeIsWhereYouParkIt. Sure, Gary, Marli and I love driving around Canada setting up our temporary home and then moving on to the next interesting spot, but it’s a transient lifestyle and to me a home has a more permanent ring to it. For all except the first 10 years of my life I have lived surrounded by the prairies in Alberta but I was born in British Columbia. You would think that after 40 years it would be in my blood; a place where my heart would call home. When Gary and I decided to move back to B.C. many people tried to provide some helpful advice, in particular about the closeness of the landscape and the grey skies that can hang around on occasion. At first I was worried about how I might feel about this but after being back in B.C. for 5 years now I know where my heart prefers to be.

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Fibre and textile artist Monika Kinner-Whalen will tell you the same thing about the prairies. I love being surrounded by the enormity of the mountains and the comfy feeling of being in a stand of trees, whereas Monika longs to see that vast expanse and uncluttered space for as far as her eyes can see. She describes her life on the prairies with such passion; the unforgiving thunderstorms, the never ending blue skies, the golden crops, the native grasses and plants and the ability to take a breath that feels like it could go on forever. The prairies are in her heart and she honours this place she loves by expressing it in her art.

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As with many artists we have met, art for Monika started out as something she wanted to do for herself and her family. It very quickly, within 7 years, turned into a full time career. She is largely self taught and has worked hard to teach herself to create beautiful art pieces with threads, fabrics, and yarns. Her dedication to hard work and always perfecting her technique through experimentation and curiosity has lead to recognition from her peers through magazine articles, keynote speaking opportunities, teaching workshops and awards.

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As you probably guessed, Monika’s subject matter consists of all things prairie. She is best known for her landscape thread paintings where she details blades of grass, wild flowers, and crops set on a back drop of one of Saskatchewan’s many vibrant living skies. The thread is her paint and her sewing machine is her brush. What I love about Monika’s thread paintings is that they actually look like a little miniature piece of the prairies with the texture adding another dimension of realism to her pieces.

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Recently, Monika has started relaying the macro view of the prairies in her art. These pieces remind me that although the wide open spaces are what I tend to focus on while cruising down the highway, there is another world of beauty under foot which is frequently missed. Often when we find ourselves face to face with something tiny we can make out details and textures that can’t be seen without having our noses just a few inches away. But Monika chooses to leave out the details in this case. She uses the fatter cousin of thread, yarn, as her paint for these pieces. They become less detailed than her landscapes and more of her impression of what she sees under foot.

As I focus on my computer screen and write about Monika and the art she creates, I think about how easy it is to get caught up in my own little corner of the world. It is artists like Monika that help me see the beauty in life, in my surroundings and even in the mundane and remind me to look up every now and again so I don’t miss the things that take my breath away.

Monika Kinner-Whalen creates and lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with her husband, three children and one dog child. Check out what else Monika has to say in her interview and help us spread the word about her work through social media and email. Thanks!

Ps: We love comments so feel free to leave one.

Fibre Artist Ann Harmer Puts Another Feather in the Mushroom Cap

Fibre Artist Ann Harmer Puts Another Feather in the Mushroom Cap

Lobster Mushroom

The more I learn about mushrooms the more I love them! Fortunately for Gary and I our trip to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia would lead us to the doorstep of fibre artist and mushroomist Ann Harmer and her world of the magnificent mushroom. Ann lives with her husband Rick and their two friendly pooches on a parcel of land near Katherine Lake where we had camped the night before. They moved from Burnaby about a decade ago after falling in love with the area. Rick says it was Katherine Lake that pulled them there. Outside their door is a rainforest which harbours all the right conditions for mushroom life. Before moving to this area, Ann had decided she wanted to learn all about mushrooms not realizing this endeavour would lead her into a creative realm using the humble fungi.

Ann Harmer Wearing One of Her Crocheted Scarves Coloured with Various Mushroom Dyes

Ann Harmer Wearing One of Her Crocheted Scarves Coloured with Various Mushroom Dyes

I was curious to find out if using the mushroom to make dyes was some sort of ancient art form. As Ann explained it only began when a woman in California was creating a dyepot out of flowers, and merely out of curiosity happened to throw in some little yellow mushrooms. It turns out she got a beautiful yellow dye and the rest is history. Now people all over the world forage for pigment mushrooms. They even get together once every two years for a pigment mushroom symposium to discuss all things fungi.

Range of Colours From Pigment Mushrooms

Range of Colours From Pigment Mushrooms

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Typical mushroom hunting season on the coast begins in July and goes into November. During that time Ann can be found out in the forest with her two dogs on the hunt for pigment mushrooms. Only a fraction of all mushroom species contain a pigment that is suitable for dyeing. I must say I was astounded at the colour palette; everything from earthy browns and greens to pinks, blues, and orange hues. Most of the mushrooms Ann hunts for are not edible but there is the lobster mushroom that she and Rick share. The lobster is a deep orange colour on the outside with a white fleshy inside. Ann peels the outside for her colour palette and Rick uses the tasty inside for his palate.

Beautiful Earthy Tones on Handspun Wool Art Yarn

Beautiful Earthy Tones on Handspun Wool Art Yarn

Mushroom Paper Bowls

Mushroom Paper Bowls

Some of Ann’s mushroom hunting involves locating a species that contains chitin. Chitin is the substance that helps to create the hard shell for arthropods such as insects, lobsters, and spiders. In the case of the mushroom, Ann can make a strong paper-like fibre which she turns into bowls, beads for jewellery and sculpture pieces such as hats and shoes (future project).

Turkey Tail Pendant and Mushroom Paper Beads

Turkey Tail Pendant and Mushroom Paper Beads

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The humble mushroom is an incredibly versatile species. It has been used in bioremediation as well as making a material that could replace plastic one day and not to mention they are wonderful to eat. And now as we have learned, it earns a noble place in the world of the visual arts. Before we left Ann and Rick that day we spent some time chatting over a cup of Earl Grey tea and some Candy Cap shortbread cookies that Ann had made. Candy Caps are a mushroom that taste and smell a bit like maple syrup. Even Gary couldn’t resist them!

To find out more about Ann Harmer please click here to get to her website.

Join us as Ann talks about the process of using mushrooms as dyes. We always love your comments and please help us spread the word about Ann on social media and through email. Thanks!

Rachelle LeBlanc – Fine Craft Through Fine Rug Hooking

Rachelle LeBlanc – Fine Craft Through Fine Rug Hooking

The Picnic

Fibre artist Rachelle LeBlanc had no idea that when she took a stress-reliever escape trip to Shelburne, Vermont back in 2003 that she would be returning with more than just a rested mind, but also a new found passion. It was while touring what is now called the Patty Yoder Gallery that she was intrigued by the remarkable hand-hooked rugs displayed there. With the often frenetic pace of work and raising a family she knew that she needed another focus, a hobby that would allow her to unwind and release her energy. Upon her return home she learned that her mother-in-law had a latch hook that she could have for free. Rachelle didn’t need any more encouragement than that, and she started playing around with some scrap pieces of wool and quickly realized that she had found it; she was hooked.

Sweetness In The Shade

Sweetness In The Shade

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Rachelle says that she loves being an artist because it suits her temperament well. She loves doing her own thing and rug hooking is an activity that requires her to slow down, breathe and enjoy the quiet time within her studio; a meditative process that acts to expel the stresses of daily life. The balance to this, and her favourite facet of rug hooking, is the fun she derives from creating challenging patterns and working through the difficult details leading up to the fulfilling completion. This is why she chooses to do fine rug hooking as opposed to the primitive style. A piece can become more difficult by utilizing more colours and detail, and she notes that the longer a rug takes to complete the more spectacular it will become. The Picnic (shown at top) had more colours than any other piece she has done and took 2 1/2 months to complete. Personally, I am astounded that every difference in colour, shading, wrinkle or detail of a subject is a different piece of wool and can be put together with such clarity. Another challenge she took on was to hook a three dimensional piece. She chose a male child as her subject and using a mannequin of a one year old she designed a pattern. Using the problem solving and results from her first sculpted piece, Rachelle is looking forward to creating a series and adding more dimensions such as the next figure having ears and so on.

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Harvest

Harvest

Rachelle always creates her own designs with good reason. Inspired by her family and what’s going on in her life at the time, Rachelle’s subject matter for her rugs are a reflection of her own story and the emotions she felt surrounding a particular moment. In her studio she can take that emotional thread and release it into a hooked rug where it will forever be memorialized. Through time and hard work I can see that she is creating a “storybook” or “photo album” chronicling parts of her family’s life that can be handed down to the next generation. I also feel that she is leaving a legacy of her passion and of who she was. I especially like the subject matter reflecting the simple pleasures of life and things that matter the most; family, nature and events surrounding both.

Bed of Violets

Bed of Violets

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The process of hooking a rug will start with an initial sketch from a photograph of a particular scene or subject. Rachelle will then do mini watercolour paintings to figure out the colour variations, even down to the proper skin tone, and will lay out her piles of coloured wool to determine her palette and what she has available. If she is lacking the proper colour she will dye the amount of wool needed to accommodate a specific section. It’s much like a painter determining their colour palette to use and mixing paints to arrive at the vision they imagine.

Orchard

Orchard

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Unlike painting, rug hooking has historically not enjoyed the same recognition as a fine visual art. Admittedly Rachelle has not experienced this stigma herself but has rather received great support and feedback from the arts and crafts community. Will we someday see hooked rugs hanging in fine art museums around the world? Maybe it is already happening, for back in 1990 Rachelle saw some Jacquard weaved pieces hanging in a fine art museum and this ignited in Rachelle a goal to someday see her own work hanging in one. I think Rachelle’s drive to always challenge herself and push the boundaries of rug hooking, along with finding joy while doing so, are all the ingredients she needs to achieve her dream.

Enjoy our video interview with Rachelle and please feel free to comment below and share on social media and email.

Shelley Hakonson Turns Art On Its Ear

Shelley Hakonson Turns Art On Its Ear

“Lucille's chameleon-like behaviour mystified her friends, she was never the same way twice.”

When we first arrived in Dawson City, Yukon on September 19 it was cold and snowing. Unfortunately we had just fried our electric heater the night before and had no choice but to find a store to purchase a new one. I was expecting to have to rob the nearest bank in order to pay for it but surprisingly the price was reasonable. We settled in for a cozy evening in Arty with anticipation of meeting visual mixed media artist Shelley Hakonson the next day. As I prefer to do with all the artists we interview, I went looking for some information about Shelley so I could come up with my own unique never-been-asked-before questions. I perused through her website, www.shelleyhakonson.com and found it to be most intriguing. Interestingly enough, after looking at Shelley’s work and reading about her, I thought I was headed into a deep philosophical journey and pictured myself way over my head in Shelley’s art arena. As I would come to find out my assumptions were unfounded.

Shelley in front of one of her hand-stitched pieces

Shelley in front of one of her hand-stitched pieces

Part of the Heart Series - "The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts....``

Part of the Heart Series – “The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts….“

More from the Heart Series. Click the thumbnail for a larger image and caption.

Dawson City is saturated with the past; clay roads, wooden board walks, surrounding gold mines and signs of the once bustling gold rush town lingering all around. It is basically open in the summer and closed in the winter. The mines shut down, tourists have retreated home, most merchants close up and the locals gather at Bombay Peggy’s (a former brothel) for one last pint or two before the great migration, usually to some place warm. Shelley and her husband Greg participate in this exodus every year, traveling to places such as Russia and Italy. She packs along a sketchpad and notebook and as they travel gathers her inspiration for the following year’s upcoming pieces.

Part of the Zoomorphic Series - “Since Chuck got the big promotion, he's been the Cock of the Walk", said Bob enviously... "but just wait until he finds out about that wife of his...”

Part of the Zoomorphic Series – “Since Chuck got the big promotion, he’s been the Cock of the Walk”, said Bob enviously… “but just wait until he finds out about that wife of his…”

From the Zoomorphic Series. Click the thumbnail for a larger image and caption.

What do Gary Larson of The Far Side fame and Indiana Jones have in common? Shelley Hakonson, of course! Shelley’s interests are far reaching and a bit on the far side one might say. She is an avid reader and many of her ideas come from the English language. Her love of words, phrases and idioms are the subject of most of her work. For example, phrases become images and images become her art. In her Zoomorphics series she has taken a phrase like “fish out of water” and painted the body of a human with the head of the animal in reference. In this case her waggish imagination conjured up a woman’s body with a fish head posing awkwardly in her dress and high heels. Although the painting might leave you scratching your head, Shelley provides us with a little more insight into where this oddity might have come from by giving us clues with an accompanying one liner caption. The rest of the story, she says, is for us to figure out however we like. It is her hope that the viewer will have fun and share in some of her lightheartedness.

Titled - Raven Wife

Titled – Raven Wife

From the Artefact Series. Click thumbnail for a larger image.

Shelley is also an ardent lover of different cultures and the mystery and intrigue that surrounds them. Before she became an acrylic painter much of what she did was mixed media textile art. When you walk into her home there are remnants of these pieces all around such as the Mongol Shaman Bag and the alien spacesuit pulled from a burning rubbish bin near Roswell and they all have a story associated with them. What is incredible is that her work is all hand stitched and is so intricate and detailed that some of the Artefacts, as she calls them, have fooled people into thinking that she and Greg had engaged in some archaeological discovery during their travels and brought back real artifacts. Remarkably, it is all Shelley; she finds something that interests her, does some research on the subject and then sets out to create her interpretation of it. Although based on facts, Shelley says she allows herself a liberal amount of creative freedom.

Titled - Drowning

Titled – Drowning

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Demeter from the Sacred and Profane Series

Demeter from the Sacred and Profane Series

The imagination and creativity of Shelley’s work is endless. On the one hand she enjoys making people smile and laugh at her witty high jinks with preposterous portraits of common phrases and idioms we can all relate to, and on the other hand some of her work is passionately serious. There are many things in life that need to be brought to our attention and make us think. We are all inquisitive by nature and I believe Shelley really knows how to access that curiosity. She certainly did that for me.

Be sure to get to know Shelley as she shares with us her fun loving spirit expressed through her art. We love comments and please help us spread the word about Shelley by sharing/liking on social media. Thank you!

Zwany Mauritz Connects Through Creativity

Zwany Mauritz Connects Through Creativity

Our second interview of our 2013 tour was with Zwany Mauritz from Chilliwack, B.C. Zwany is a fine artist as well as a fashion and purse designer. Her and her family immigrated to Canada from Holland 10 years ago. She comes from a family of twelve children and most of them are creative in one form or another. Her mother was an artist specializing in portraits and her father was a musical artist. Zwany shared with us that her childhood was rich in the arts and so creativity was always instinctive for her. She grew up walking in her mother’s footsteps so it was fitting that she went to art school and painting portraits became her passion.

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Nowadays she is an eclectic acrylic painter and does abstracts to landscapes and everything in between. But her favourite subject is still people. She loves to make a connection and so what better way to get to know someone than to paint them. People sometimes request a portrait of themselves or of a loved one and provide Zwany with a photograph, but she admits that it is much more fun when she can have the person sitting in front of her. Also, as she explained, it is easier to paint the person’s personality into the painting because they can chat which gives her a chance to get to know them while she works away. She finds her live portraiture paintings to have more spontaneity and it forces her to work fast and be concise.

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Zwany is an expressive and deep thinking painter. There are times when her paintings have a certain personal connotation for her and she finds herself using paint to lay down her emotions. In many cases she uses the swan in those paintings. It represents her as her name, Zwany, means swan in Dutch. This gorgeous bird becomes Zwany in the painting and with it she has created a diorama of the important emotional moments in her life. She has painted about love, family, anger and the dark and light side of herself.

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When Zwany is not painting, you can find her designing, redesigning and repurposing clothing, fabric, buttons, bobbles, shells and anything else that no longer seems to have a purpose. She custom makes designer fashions, typically for special occasions, for women with unique figures. One of her greatest satisfactions is to make something beautiful in order to make someone happy. Zwany also loves to design purses either from scratch or she will give an old outdated purse, as she says, “a new coat.” She never runs out of ideas or material to work with. She is either shopping at the local thrift store, being on the receiving end of outdated articles of clothing or hunting through her own closet to find something to completely change or just give it a new look. It gives her great pleasure to repurpose a neglected blouse or a lonely tie that may have otherwise ended up in the landfill. If she is dismantling an old dress perhaps she will use the shoulder straps for the straps of a new purse or turn a set of 1980’s style curtains into a funky hand bag.

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For Zwany it is not about the end result. It is about the creative journey she takes every time she picks up her brushes or sits down at her sewing machine. For her, creativity is a joyous and fulfilling place to be.

Please join us as Zwany talks more about her love of painting and designing. We always appreciate comments and spreading the word on social media. Thanks!

Textile Artist Terry Phillips Brings Fibre to Life

Textile Artist Terry Phillips Brings Fibre to Life

I have to pinch myself everyday just to make sure I’m not dreaming!

April 23, 2013, another simply gorgeous day. The air has just the right amount of chill and the azure sky is soothing on my morning eyes. Today we will visit Terry Phillips at her home and studio, Hopespring Studio, on Quadra Island, B.C. Terry is our 81st interview since we began in August of 2011. I sometimes wonder if traveling and interviewing artists will become routine and just another day but it never does. It holds as much intrigue and excitement today as it did right from the start.

Terry Phillips at Hopespring Studio on Quadra Island, B.C.

Terry Phillips at Hopespring Studio on Quadra Island, B.C.

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Terry Phillips is a textile artist and watercolour painter. She started out making traditional block patterned quilts and painting on watercolour paper. A creative mind knows no boundaries though, and so one day Terry found herself combining textiles with paint. Her quilts began to transform from functional bedspreads to free flowing artistic textile art that would add a bounty of life to the loneliest of walls, and her paintings became an integral part of that process. When Gary and I were invited into her studio we were greeted with eye stopping pieces of art. Each piece stood out on it’s own; some for the colours, others for the texture, still others for the three dimensionality, and most with all three.

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Terry’s work is representative of all things intriguing to her. She admits that she would like to try to focus on developing her strengths in one or two areas rather than many. Her ideas come from everywhere. Her mind is open to whatever wants to come on in. I love her enthusiasm for her art. She has a child-like sense of awe and excitement combined with years of hard work and loving attention that is evident in her work.

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Textile art has opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for Terry and she says she has only scratched the surface. There are so many different paints, fibres, techniques and materials that she incorporates into her pieces in layers upon layers. Everyday she gets to explore and stretch her imagination. What a wonderful way to live life!

Join us as Terry shares her enthusiasm and passion for textile art.

Warning: After watching this video you may want to start creating your own textile art!

We love comments! And don’t forget about sharing on social media.

Passionate About Pastimes

Passionate About Pastimes

Home of Shirlee Hogan and Pastimes PEI Rug Hooking and Wool Shop

I had it in my mind that our trip across Canada would not be complete without interviewing a traditional Maritime crafter. Having never been to the east before, I wasn’t exactly sure what we were looking for in that regard but when we stopped in at the Nova Scotia Tourist Information building we found rug hooking. I didn’t know what was traditional about it at the time but I was looking forward to finding out.

This is a story about three sisters, Shirlee Hogan, Heather Tweedy and Bette Young of Pastimes PEI Rug Hooking and Wool Shop. The story starts off with Shirlee looking for a pastime to pass the time. She discovered rug hooking about 25 years ago and it seemed like a good fit. Soon after, her sisters Heather and Bette thought it would be fun to give it a try and so they joined in as well. As time went on a business emerged for the three sisters and they have been at it ever since.

Shirlee Hogan

Heather Tweedy

We met with Heather and Shirlee at Shirlee’s country home. She lives in an adorable house that looks like she bought it from Hansel and Gretel. This is also the home of the sisters’ rug hooking and wool shop business. Shirlee and Heather were awaiting our arrival at their shop and I was excited to see what we would learn that day. I had no idea what we were in for. We couldn’t have found two better ladies to interview. Not only were they a wealth of knowledge, they also shared wonderful stories about each rug they introduced us to. The better part of an hour was spent talking to us about how they got started, the history of rug hooking in PEI and to top it off they gave us the Coles Notes version of how to make a rug. We even got a hands on lesson!

When I first looked at traditional Maritime rug hooking my first thought was, “it looks kind of simple”. It didn’t look overly creative to me or what I perceived to be creative. I would come to find out later that this is part of the tradition; the rugs were born out of a need for functionality rather that a need for creativity. There are two styles, the Cavendish or geometric which made good use of small scraps of fabric that would otherwise be discarded, and the pictorial, which depicted images of people’s farms, their houses, nature and pretty much anything that was important in their lives. These weren’t just rugs that guests would wipe their feet on, there were stories captured in those rugs like photos in an album.

Click on the images in the gallery below to see a larger image.

Rugs were made by women who dauntingly cut each strip of fabric from old, worn out clothing. The colours were limited to what they had back in their day. They were primarily dark, representative of work clothing. The Pastime ladies have expanded on the colour palette a bit but they remain steadfast in the simplicity of the patterns which still represent the important things in people’s lives today. They do, however, have a great little machine that cuts the fabric strips for them; several at a time of course. And, if you aren’t into investing any time in preparation the ladies have assembled kits so you can get down to rug hooking business right a way. I was astounded to hear that Heather hand draws every single pattern, and not just the original to be mass printed on a machine; every single one! Whether you are a seasoned hooker or a first timer, they want everyone to have the best experience possible and so they pretest all their patterns. The sisters complete each pattern before it is packaged into a kit or sold on it’s own. Talk about a labour of love!

Gary and I had fun spending time with Shirlee and Heather and we left there feeling hopeful that some traditions of the past are alive and well. Of course the ‘simple’ theme emerged once again with the lives of those that came before us, teaching valuable lessons in friendship, recycling (although that wasn’t even a word back then) and cherishing the precious moments in our lives.

Join us with Shirlee Hogan and Heather Tweedy in their interview and watch as they share with us the story behind the Cavendish rug and a lesson on how to rug hook. Please feel free to leave your comments as well.


Jennifer Galliott Weaves a Way of Life in Newfoundland

Jennifer Galliott Weaves a Way of Life in Newfoundland

I can’t paint every younger person with the same brush (although I would like to) but it gives me great comfort in knowing the future is in the hands of some of the younger people Gary and I have met along our journey. When we were in Newfoundland and Labrador it was recommended by two people that we go drop in on Jennifer Galliott. Jennifer is a tapestry artist, and she is also a potter and painter and gallery owner. She lives in Woody Point, right in the heart of Gros Morne National Park. At one time her grandfather owned a boat store for his fishing equipment which sat across the street from the water. Due to an unfortunate fire incident the boat stores across from his burnt to the ground. Eventually Jennifer’s grandfather was able to move his store across the street and it has sat on the waterfront ever since. This was significant not only for the convenience of accessing his boat and fishing equipment but also because nowadays it is the home of Galliott Studios and it’s quaint little cafe. Jennifer renovated the building that I imagine once smelled of ocean life, and turned it into a place where local art is on display for sale, including her own. It is also a place to meet, hang out and enjoy the breathtaking view from the deck that sits right on the water.

Inside Galliott Studios

Oceanside Deck

Jennifer struck me as a determined and ambitious young entrepreneurial artist. She graduated from art school in 2008 and she could have chose to go anywhere in the world to eke out a living for herself but she chose to come back to the small village of Woody Point, Newfoundland. Since then she has established a name for herself in the community and her studio and cafe has a reputation as the place to go and connect and seek out wonderful local art. She regularly brings in local Newfoundland and Labrador musicians for Sunday evening get togethers and has invited author readings in conjunction with the writers festival that comes to town once a year at the end of August.

We had a chance to spend some time with Jennifer and get to know her a bit. We all mutually agreed an interview was a great idea for the next day. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make it happen but Jennifer agreed to an e-mail interview along with some pictures of her work. Check out what she has to say about herself and her art.

AQ: How long have you been creating your tapestry? Jennifer: I’ve been weaving tapestries for 5 years now AQ: painting? Jennifer: on and off for years AQ: pottery? Jennifer: two years

AQ: Why did you choose these three mediums? Jennifer: I stumbled onto pottery when I found a kiln for sale for cheap online. After that my aunt gave me her kick wheel, and it kind of grew from there.

AQ: You took part of your art education in Alberta. Was it easy for you to decide to come back to Woody Point, Newfoundland and work as an artist? Jennifer: Yes. While I was away I made art largely about Newfoundland. The town of Woody Point is such a wonderful place people wise, as well as the natural beauty. Not only are both sides of my family from here, the town is also located right in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gros Morne National park, I don’t think it gets much better then this.

Jennifer Galliott

AQ: What challenges have you faced as far as establishing yourself in a small community like Woody Point? Jennifer:The town is very seasonal, also there isn’t a lot of money in small towns to be spent on a lot of art.

AQ: Are there some things you find easier being an artist here than in a bigger center? Jennifer: I’m surrounded by constant inspiration.

AQ: Please explain the process you go through when designing and crafting your tapestry? Jennifer: Before I weave a tapestry I first need to draw what is known as a cartoon. A cartoon is kind of like a blue print of what I will weave. It is a picture that is true to size and sits behind my loom as a guide to what I am weaving. Once this is done and sometimes coloured in, I then have to tie vertical strings known as warps, and make sure the tension is even throughout. Then the weaving starts.

AQ: What and/or who influences your designs? Jennifer: Mainly travel, being homesick, or home.

Tapestry in Progress

AQ: What advice would you give someone either thinking about pursuing an art career or someone who is fresh out of art school? Jennifer: Don’t give up. If there’s no work you just need to make some for yourself. Also learn how to apply for things and either enter yourself into nominations, or get a friend to do it for you. Also always ask for help you never know the huge amount of talent that could be around you.

AQ: What is the most gratifying aspect of being an artist in the mediums you have chosen? Jennifer: Being able to make an idea reality. I always try to push my limits and luckly don’t see the enormity of something until I’m in the thick of it. That being said I’m also very stubborn and no matter how long it takes I manage to finish what I’ve started. There’s nothing better then being able to look at something and think wow! I made that.