28 September 2010

26 September 2010

Exquisite Corpse (and its friends)

By a wonderful coincidence, Port Coquitlam, the town just across the river from Pitt Meadows, had two new exhibitions, one by the BC/Yukon area of SDA (Surface Design Organisation). I went along to the preview and met up with CQ member Catherine Nicholls, one of the organisers of this show.

Quoting from the brochure: "Exquisite Corpse: A game of folded paper which consists in having several people compose a phrase or drawing collectively, none of the participants having any idea of the nature of the preceding contribution(s)."
It has evolved from a parlour game called "Consequences", and was played by the Surrealists - capturing spontaneous, irrational words and images. The exercise "revels in the idea of chance and results in fantastic bodily forms" - it's "still pertinent to today's obsessions with the body - as sexual object, as metaphor, and as the site of mortality and political contestation."
The 39 works on show used all manner of textile and paper-based surface design techniques. Among the 3D works was one that came all the way from Whitehorse, Yukon (about 2700 km) -
I loved the subtle colours of this hooked visage -
To make each figure, people worked in teams and agreed on (or drew straws for) who would do which section. Some teams made three sections each, then got together and decided which would go where - and which of the results would be entered in the show.
One team decided on an aquatic theme, and divided up the piece of background fabric -
The team who made the piece on the left worked in a way that's traditional to the paper version of the game, folding over their section and covering it before handing it on for the next section to be added -
In a workshop room, visitors were invited to participate, using images from pages torn out of magazines -
Of course I had to have a go; my creature ended up with a big nose and long bare legs, and a handbag as a blouse -
These had been prepared earlier -
The works in the exhibition by Salmon Arm artist Wendy Browne were difficult to photograph without reflections - they were "transformed from snips, rips and slices of paper" -
When we played Exquisite Corpses at a family gathering recently, we used four sections - head, neck to waist, waist to knees, and lower legs and feet -
A fun game - even for the "but I can't draw!" people.

Urban and rural dangers

On the Skytrain, Vancouver -and in the forest, Vancouver Islands (thanks to Barbara Pollard for spotting this one) -

Infection control

Another blast from the past, found while sorting photos - the siblings on a hospital visit, during an outbreak of Norwalk virus that seemed to go on forever...

Soup & sandwich

Cute little cafe in Ladysmith, BC, Canada - found while sorting out old photos.

24 September 2010


"Downpour", drypoint and monotype by James Mah, available to rent from the Burnaby Art Gallery.

The "rain" theme is only too present here in coastal BC - we get a lot of it...

23 September 2010

Pitt Meadows museum

The museum is one of Pitt Meadows' historic buildings - it used to be Roraph's general store, with the family living in the back and upstairs. Now it holds the history of the community - white settlement in the area dates back to the 1870s.

Whenever I visit, I check the "Miss Pitt Meadows" display. As a pupil at Pitt Meadows Elementary School in grades 3-6, I remember the excitement of the annual sports day - the parade, the ceremony, the rest... In my day, Miss PM was chosen by ballot from the oldest class in the elementary school, and her attendants came from the other classes, probably one from each class. I wonder how they were chosen the first time, in 1938 -
Interesting to see three Japanese names - I am always distressed to think that these families would have been moved, during World War II, to one of the eight internment camps in the BC interior, or perhaps even further east. About 22,000 people of Japanese origin lived in BC at the time, of whom three-quarters were born in Canada or had become Canadian citizens.

Across the road from the museum is another of Pitt Meadows' historic buildings, Hoffman's workshop, full of fascinating machines and tools -

20 September 2010

Natural dyeing

Seeing the results Sue got, I have to try this.
Eat (or serve) an avocado, and save the skin. Boil* up the bits fabric with the avocado skin. Let cool. Remove fabric. Enjoy.
*It doesn't seem to take a lot of boiling - probably depends on the individual avocado skin. This is a method, not an exact recipe. Your results may vary.

19 September 2010

New size, old theme

These unfinished pieces are 5" x 5" - little bits of "landscape" with things floating round in the sky. My plan is to stitch them to either a dark or light bit of fabric to frame them, then mount them on heavy paper. These have a layer of batting/wadding behind them, but it's not really necessary - in fact, flatter is better.They combine dyed fabric, printed fabric, scraps picked up off the floor, mark-making techniques, random stitching -- and were put together in a kind of happy daze.

My plan was (still is) to make a bunch of them quickly, then put them away for a while and see if any look good to me in a few months. While I'm making bigger pieces, I collect the scraps for "little landscapes" and sometimes one gets put together almost unconsciously.

18 September 2010

Over the edge

The binding is on - it's finished! Side 1 is where it all started -
and side 2 is the dragon side - you can't see him very clearly, but he's there -
I'm not going to point out a single one of the quilt's subtle faults. There are design things I would have done differently, and technique things I would have done more carefully, but I've done enough ripping out of seams during construction ... it's together now.

It's been a challenge to do it in the time available and with the materials on hand, and a joy to be able to spend so much time sewing - and it's been a labour of love.

Next ... something small ... or some escapist reading ...

At the edge

The final borders are on - it all needs trimming - where better than on the floor -
To my surprise, I really enjoyed working with these muted colours. Some more quilting here would be nice, but time is running out and this will have to do for now -
Next: the binding. Estimated time, 3 hours, even though it's already pieced and cut. Time remaining before leaving the house with suitcase: 7 hours. Packing: done.

Manna from heaven

Thinking about what to use to bind the dragon quilt, I remembered a bag (from a bring&buy) with some crumpled navy lawn, too fine to use among the heavier cottons, but perfect for a doubled narrow binding. Would there be enough? When I got it out to iron before cutting strips, I found it was already cut, and pieced -into 10 metres of bias binding! That saves a lot of time - thank you, unknown person who did all the preparation!

16 September 2010

Final border (almost)

While rummaging around for more fabric for the border to go around the "men" fabric, this emerged - from the Bob Adams workshop at FOQ in 2007 - I was worried there wouldn't be enough with the fabrics already assembled - the strip needed was 308" x 8". I cut as many 8" high lengths as possible, and pieces what was left into 8" high strips. Then it was a matter of sewing a smaller piece onto either end of a bigger piece, then cutting that into several narrow pieces 8" high. Repeat until big pieces are small strips. Here they are laid out on the floor, in no particular order -
and some go back to the cutting board for disassembly -
It's looking livelier -
After about 5 hours all the fabric was in one long strip - definitely enough.

14 September 2010

Making fabric

Frottage (rubbing!) with a shiva/markal oilstick. Lots of interesting textures can be found round the house. I have only this silver paintstick, and although the finished fabric is very useful in the fabric collages I've made recently, using the oilstick is very messy - getting the crusty bits off, for a start - you find tiny bits of everywhere that have come off in the rubbing; it gets all over your hands and smears off onto the fabric when you handle it, and it's not that easy to get it off your hands.

On the plus side, I do like the uniqueness and "randomness" of the results, and you get a variety of marks with one simple tool and technique.

I leave it sit for a day, then heat set with the iron. But so far I haven't used it for anything that needs washing.