I am creating an installation during the City of Craft event made of unwanted clothes. We are also getting crafty and making things with the scraps or leftover supplies for the installation. If you have something made of scraps you would like included in the installation, bring it to the event and it will be used.
On Sunday, December 13 the installation is on exhibition. The leftover supplies & scraps from Saturday are available for people to take. At 4:00 pm, crafters and designers are invited to pick apart the installation, take the clothes and re-use them in future projects or as they see fit. Please spread the word to any designers working in "Slow Fashion." Thanks.
For early drop off or pick up of clothing or supplies, contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org or (905) 725.8118
Who are you? Denise Wild, Founder of The Sewing Studio
Where are you located? The Sewing Studio has two locations in Toronto's posh Rosedale neighbourhood: 1225 Yonge Street (at Summerhill) and 266 Avenue Road (at Dupont)
What do you/your business/your product do? At The Sewing Studio, we teach sewing classes for all ages and skill levels. We also sell sewing machines and offer sewing parties, sewing bootcamps, and Free Studio Time.
What will you have at the show? Do you have any special plans for your table/space? We're giving away a Janome sewing machine at this year's City of Craft as well as a surprise take-away for all the show's attendants!
Why handmade? Sewing is where fashion begins. There are no clothes on the runway without a bit of fabric and thread to begin. We love making something from start to finish whether we're conceptualizing a design from scratch, tweaking an existing garment off the rack, or copying one of our favourite pieces.
Are there any crafts you are especially tuned into at the moment? It's always about clothes for us! Right now we're loving long-fur vests (faux, of course) and everything slashed (tops, jeans, totes).
Anything else we should know? The Sewing Studio is launching a website extension January 1st that features sewing classes online and.... an online sewing magazine! Fashion-lovers rejoice!
Photo by Becky Johnson
Where are you located? 1537 Queen St. W Toronto ON M6R 1A7, two blocks East of Roncesvalles on the South side.
What do you/your business/your product do? I offer an array of seasonal, fresh and dried, hand tied bouquets for events, weddings and passers by.
What does your sponsorship for the show entail? A live flower arrangement and two gift cards for the raffle, and $2 gift tags with handmade lavender sachets for the swag bags.
Why handmade? Okay, my flowers aren't handmade but, I do believe there is something rather crafty about floral arranging. Whether it's a "you were right" bouquet or something for yourself, flowers are for spreadin' the love. From the minute they are cut flowers begin to die and so I think of myself as intensive care for botanicals. This urgency creates a certain amount of tension in the work and this makes the entire process for me incredibly romantic. My flower shop is unique in that I make all of the paper goods for the business by hand with the help of my logo artist Maybelle Imasa Stukuls. Hang tags, business cards and other promo goods are each hand done in the back of my little shop. Coriander Girl was greatly inspired by Karyn Valino and The Workroom. I wanted a workspace for floral arranging and all things craft. Basically, I've always wanted a grand craft studio, so I opened my own store! Now, I have an excuse to play all day long!
Anything else we should know? Right now I'm loving that the main part of my job is shopping for crafts! I am constantly sourcing new products for the shop and on the look out for new artisans who want to sell their stuff on a smaller scale. In the New year I'll be carrying jewelry by the lovely Kalpna Patel and other great local artisans. I just starting carrying Ella's Botanicals which I think are perfect for Coriander Girl.
Stay tuned in to these profiles as they also hold within them tantalizing previews of the swag bags we give to our first 100 shoppers (Saturday only, dudes), our hefty raffle packs and more!
We are very happy to start this profile series with local fibre-care juggernaut, Soak Wash. So without any further ado...
Who are you? Soak Wash Inc. creators of Soak- Modern Care for Fine Fibers
Where are you located? Sexy industrial strip mall just outside the big city (Mississauga)
What do you/your business/your product do? We used to be Jacq’s-Hats, an award-winning knit accessories company. Now we’re Soak Wash Inc. Our customers often ask us how they can best take care of our knit hats, sweaters and scarves. We didn’t like other wool washes, so we decided to offer them a modern approach to fiber care. We developed a premium, no-rinse wash solution that works with our stuff – and with anything else people care about enough to hand wash. Soak can now be found in yarn shops, sewing studios, lingerie fitting boutiques and department stores.
What does your sponsorship for the show entail? Goodie bags will include a mini-soak single use samples as well as some product knowledge. There’s a juicy Soak prize pack up for raffle grabs too.
Why handmade? Our designs, concepts, fragrances and packaging all stem from our creative crafty side. Our knits were hand-made. Soak is biodegradable, non-toxic, no rinse and eco friendly.
Are there any crafts you are especially tuned into at the moment? We’re in love with our new scent- Unleash which is a collaboration inspired by Ravelry.com. We’re inspired by the connectivity of craft at the moment. I’m also immersed in quilting these days.
Anything else we should know? We’re launching new products in January- Carrie + Phil- wash basins, from Soak. Carrie: fun-loving multi-tasker. Carrie is as happy carrying towels to the beach and toys to the park as she is keeping your yarn stash and other neat stuff, tidy at home. Phil: bright and indispensable. Phil loves protecting hand-washables from the rest of the laundry and relieving the sink of its duties by providing a safe haven for Soaking. He also works perfectly for dyeing, felting and other yarny tasks.
For even more Soak information as-it-happens, check out their blog at http://www.soakworthy.com.
Come one, come all and hear ye, hear ye:
As we draw nearer to the big, big day, our installations page has finally come alive on the website. Shoved full of valuable and dazzling information amassed and compiled by our installation curatrix (too cute?), Tara Bursey, it is a veritable treasure trove of large scale craft/art goodness.
And if that were not enough, you can also check our the installation features on our blog for Tara's in-depth profiles of individual artists and their work(s).
Keep your eyes peeled, crafty citizens; The streets around the Theatre Centre will start to be dotted with City of Craft Installations as early as next week!
Jen Spinner and Laurie McGregor are both Toronto-based artists and graphic designers. Their installation Escapes will be on display on the upper level of The Theatre Centre during City of Craft...don't miss it! Also, keep your eyes peeled for several small sculptural fire escape interventions scattered throughout the Theatre Centre...
In your installation Escapes, you are planning to explore the structure of the fire escape both two and three-dimensionally. Can you talk about the relationship between both approaches?
JS: The installation is a collaboration between Laurie and I, which sprung from my obsession with fire escapes and our desire to work together as artists. We were discussing different methods of examining the structures and all of our ideas involved taking them out of their urban context in order to highlight their beauty. The collaboration has naturally separated itself in that I’m dealing with the 2D aspect using paper cutouts and Laurie is adeptly handing the 3D component via miniature models.
In context, fire escapes are three-dimensional objects that serve a specific purpose, but out of context, they represent secret, “other” spaces that we, as city-dwellers often overlook. The 2D and 3D examination asks the viewer to think about the wrought-iron constructions as precious objects.
The paper cutouts are based on my photos of fire escapes. This process reduces them from full form imagery to flat silhouettes, which is my way of interpreting the “in between” sections of my physical surroundings. Taking this a step further, I think these spaces are extra important in an urban setting as we’re often too occupied with day-to-day living to fully appreciate the beauty existing all around us.
LM: The 3D wire models of the fire escapes also serve the same purpose. By scaling down the fire escape into a small, precious object, we can begin to see how these structures are fundamentally beautiful.
Is there any particular reason that you chose to render your fire escapes using the materials you did?
JS: I have a thing for paper (that makes me a bit guilty given the environmental implications of producing virgin paper). I keep lovely paper that I find to make collages and am really picky about the types of paper I use to print or write on. The cutouts follow a rich paper cutting tradition of using one piece of paper to render intricate scenes. In this case, I loved the idea that such sturdy constructions could be interpreted into delicate, ephemeral versions.
Much of my work involves repetition, which I find very calming: creating paper multiples mirrors the structures’ ubiquitous place in our urban landscape, and like the handmade cutouts, no two are the same.
LM: There were several reasons behind the decision on my part to use paperclips for the 3D models. However in all honesty, the largest factor in the decision was cost. Paperclips are super cheap, and plentiful. That said, the size of the paperclips also helped me decide on the scale of the fire escapes, and I felt that they spoke nicely to the fact that Jen was using paper for her models.
You are both graphic designers...do you ever find that the lines blur between your art and design practices? How do the two relate for you?
JS: The lines do blur in that there are similar problem solving skills used for both disciplines. For instance, I tend to do my own illustrations for my freelance design, which are heavily influenced by my personal collage work. But, ultimately, when I am designing for a client it is to solve a problem that is separate from myself. Conversely, when I’m producing artwork, it is very selfish and a chance to indulge in whatever I’d like to express creatively. Since I have more control over my art, it tends to be grittier and more instinctual than my design work.
In the context of this project, we decided to make the fire escapes bright pink because it further pushes the escapes into the limelight and out of their dark, dingy homes between buildings. It also seemed logical because we both use this colour often in our design work.
LM: At the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, it depends on your definition of the word "art." Personally, I wouldn't call my design work "art", but I would like to think that I occasionally incorporate my "art" into my designs. So yes, the lines do blur, and I think that the biggest thing that separates the two disciplines is intent and/or purpose. While graphic design may not be art, it is still innately creative, so it makes sense that a great designer's desire to create wouldn't just be satisfied by graphic design alone.
Are there any artists or designers that have been inspiring you as of late?
JS: There are so many artists who do incredible work with paper that have influenced me. I’ve been in love with Ed Pien, Libby Hague and Rob Ryan who all use paper and paper cutting in fascinating ways. I’m inspired with their ability to work with scale: both extremes of very large and minute. I also adore street art of all kinds. There’s a street artist who makes incredible collages as well as murals who I’ve been obsessed with lately: he’s based in Brooklyn and goes by the name Elbow Toe.
LM: I am inspired by so many people and things, including people and things that are completely unrelated to what I'm working on at the moment. I have a film degree, and film is where I have always found inspiration for a lot of things. A lot of my friends and acquaintances are artists and designers as well, and they all inspire and motivate me on a daily basis too. If I have to name names though, one of the people that continually inspires me is Charles Rennie Mackintosh, an Arts and Crafts movement/Art Nouveau period artist, designer and architect from Glasgow. His combination of clean lines and ornate flourishes is something that inspires me in both my design work and my art. On a more contemporary note, Stefan Sagmeister, a graphic designer based in New York City, is an incredible influence. He is definitely a designer that bridges that thin line between graphic design and art. The thing I probably appreciate about him the most is that he isn't afraid to take design off the computer. He is probably most famous for his poster design for an AIGA lecture - he scratched the text into his own skin and the photographed it. I suppose one of the direct influences for this specific project would be Alexander Calder, the American sculptor and artist who basically invented the mobile. He made beautiful, intricate wire models (on display at the AGO until January! You should go check them out!) which are definitely inspiration for the 3D models.
Do you have any favourite Toronto fire escapes? Or any memories that involve fire escapes?
JS: That’s like asking me to pick my favourite pair of shoes! I love them all because they’re each unique and beautiful. Like any obsession, once I started thinking about them as symbols of otherness, I see them everywhere and they’ve become a reassuring part of my city experience. One does come to mind, though: there is a painted white escape attached to a 10-storey building on the northeast corner of King and Duncan. I used to work around there and would visit it often on my lunch breaks. It’s particularly interesting because it is painted white to match the building and seems to recede into the brick façade when caught in the right light.
LM: Obviously I would have to say my own fire escape! I live on the third floor of a house and my flat is only accessible by a light blue fire escape at the back of the house. It seems like an odd choice of paint for a fire escape, but because of this, it's fairly awesome. As for memories, in university I lived in a house where the landlord had a lot of bizarre and strict rules having to do with every aspect of the building, including the fire escape. We were not allowed on the fire escape unless it was to escape the building in an emergency, of course. As a way of sticking it to the landlord, we regularly sat out there and drank. We were always getting in trouble with her for various reasons, but I don't believe we ever got caught out on that fire escape.*****
Handmade homesteader, or lonestar craft cowboy, you’re on call to join us on the radical-craft frontier to build this City!
Fear not, folks… this is no one-horse town! Put your hands on one of many plum roles:
All Around Town Heros- for vendor support and random acts of craft-kindness in the welcome department
Barn-raisers and Barn-burners- to put it all up and tear it all down
Sassy School Marms- to help out with our Craft Lab and spread the education word
Art Herders - to watch over installations and make sure they stay intact*
Décor Do-gooders- to make the place real pretty
Rangers- to spread the word to the outside world
Sheriff- strong-armed lovers to keep the peace and move tables
*special skill requests: hand-sewing/garment construction & tech savvyness
Camp out with us over the weekend, create happy trails, and meet amazin’ crafty-folks!
For more information and detailed descriptions of volunteer roles, email email@example.com
Shifts available throughout the event (9am-6pm Saturday, 11am to 7pm Sunday)
CITY OF CRAFT 2009
December 12 &13
Queen West & Dovercourt
A celebration of all things crafty in Toronto
Lizz Aston is currently an Artist-in-Residence in the Craft Department at Harbourfront. Her incredible work is both austere and playful, and straddles the compelling space between sculpture and fine craft. Don't miss her massive interactive installation, Beginning to Macrame, which will be hanging above the risers in the Theatre Centre during City of Craft!
As a craft, macrame is somewhat obscure, and associated with a particular time in history-- the 1970s. What originally piqued your interest in macrame?
Wow. Macrame really gets me going!
If you’ve ever had the chance to pick up an old book on macrame you’ll see what I mean. Like you mentioned, macrame was all the rage in the 1970’s. I guess I hold a certain sentiment towards it because like many others, it conjures up feelings of nostalgia from my childhood in the early 80’s, being surrounded by the remnants of bizarre homemade objects.
Macrame was a very absurd and extravagant craft-form, where artists would dye great lengths of hemp, jute, or other natural fibres and knot them together in monumental hangings and excessive three-dimensional sculptures.
As a subject in my work, macrame first claimed my attention, when I took an Artists Books workshop a couple of summers ago. I spent an entire week dissecting images and patterns; and making cut-outs from instructional diagrams in a book of How-To Macrame. All of the work I have done since then has propelled forward from those initial small scale studies.
There is so much history and symbolism behind knotwork, from the endless knots of Buddhist and Celtic art and spiritualism, to nautical knots, to macrame and lacework. Is this idea of the knot as a symbol at play in your work? Have you done any research on the greater implications of the knot?
I find a great sense of poeticism in knot-work as being one of our oldest, most basic and sophisticated technologies. There is an endless wealth of ideas, associations and symbolism to knots and knotting. Knotting practices are representative of a greater identity, encompassing the beliefs, practices, languages and superstitions of many cultures. I am interested in the knot as a universal language, one that carries residual histories and memory, connecting the past to the present as a living tradition. As a ritualistic process, it is compulsive and repetitive, used to build connections and bridge gaps. Knots can be transcendental, where one type of knot may be found similarly among other knotting practices under a different name; and the names of the knots themselves are each rich with significance and word histories. My work continues to evolve as I delve further into these themes, inspiring a greater dialogue into the symbolism of the knot.
I feel like your work occupies a space somewhere between art and craft. Can you talk a bit about this division (or lack of division) with regards to your current work and methods of making?
I have always considered myself to be an artist working in a fibre based medium.
To me, craft is a very process driven practice where you are given a specific set of starting points that are largely based on discovery through material exploration and the use of sampling. My work confronts a set of concerns that are as equally based in material craft practices as they are in conceptual ones.
As makers, we are constantly engaged in an ongoing dialogue that exists in the creation of meaningful objects; challenging the application of traditionally learned skills, to expand upon a greater definition of art and design. Contemporary craft continues to evolve as it has become a celebrated practice that is of-the-moment and vital. This marks a turning point for a community of makers, whose work charts out and advocates a larger discourse in the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary Canadian art and design.
Aside from your piece Beginning to Macrame that will be up at City of Craft, what other projects are you working on right now? Or what projects do you have waiting in the wings for after City of Craft, or the New Year?
I am currently developing a body of work using one of my favorite processes, which incorporates a technique of stitching and burning-out different surfaces to create knotted and crocheted patterns. Hopefully I can find a way of taking this technique into a three-dimensional direction without compromising the preciousness and fragility of the work.
Other than that, I’d like to make some cool Christmas presents for my friends and family and maybe get a good website up and running, ready in time for the City of Craft.
Images, from top:
Beginning to Macrame (detail), 2009
Decreasing Your Knot Vocabulary, collaged paper fibres, machine embroidery, burnout, 2009
Check out her Toronto skyline-inspired design - so clever & cute!
Shannon is a Montreal-based crafter who makes adorable art pillows and dolls screenprinted with her illustrations. They are available through her etsy shop, cou cou salut.
Shannon's winning design will be printed (in colour) on cotton totes, stuffed with crafty goodies, and available to the first 100 attendees of City of Craft.
We'd also like to give honourable mention to a couple of other stellar designs:
Alec Dempster's woodblock print inspired by the embroidery his wife does based on traditions from Veracruz, Mexico:
Jessica Leong's slightly trippy celebration of textiles of all sorts:
Thank you to everyone who entered!!!
Hello readers! Welcome to the very first installment of a series of interviews with this year's City of Craft installation artists. Jacinta Lodge is a freelance writer and embroiderer who currently resides in Berlin. The following interview discusses her crafty technique of choice, her installation for City of Craft, Early Training, and the ideas that informed it. Enjoy!
Your installation Early Training employs a technique called Blackwork. What is it and where did you first learn about it?
Blackwork is generally considered a 16th Century English technique. The most famous picture of it from this time is Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII. However it does seem to stem from earlier Spanish work, and it's widely considered that Catherine of Aragon (that poor ex-wife of Henry VIII) introduced it to England. Mary Gostelow's book Blackwork has a fascinating introduction to the history of the technique-- and embroidery in Europe-- which can be read online at Google Books, if anyone is interested.
Blackwork itself is a single stitch, a double running stitch (also called the Holbein stitch, I guess because of that painting!) which is just a running stitch run first one way then back over it so that there is a solid line. Traditionally, blackwork was (employed to create) ornate images, usually of vines and fruit. Modern blackwork is made more of repeated small motifs (called diaper patterns), which are used to fill an area.
I was introduced to blackwork about seven years ago at the Stitches and Craft show in London. (It was there that) I met Leon Conrad, a passionate traditional blackworker and incredibly helpful man, and bought a book by Jack Robinson from him. Since then, blackwork has become one of the many techniques I enjoy.
What is the relationship between your way of working-- embroidery in it's various forms-- and your subject matter, which has included tattoo flash, graffiti tags, and stencil art?
Well, to be honest, I'm not sure there is one. Personally, I enjoy graffiti and am impressed by the political and social messages that a number of graffiti artists impart. (Because) my current work is more heavy on social commentary, evoking graffiti meshes well with that and I enjoy coming up with new ways of using what are, in the end, very traditional techniques and stitches. But embroidery is just my chosen medium and I'm far more at home with needle and thread than with paint and paintbrush. Although it's common in textile art stay with themes close to textiles/women's roles, I've never really thought that the medium should dictate the theme-- painters rarely examine the history of paint in their work, or the role of painters in society. There are a lot of things to examine in this world and just because the mirror you hold up is made of fabric, it doesn't mean the subject must be also.
Training addresses the subject of the indoctrination of children. This is something that happens around the world, from child soldiers in Africa and the Middle East, to the passing down of racist ideologies from generation to generation. What inspired you to address this subject in your work?
(The indoctrination of children is) something that always interested, or perhaps better said, offended me. Ten years ago there was a photo in the newspaper taken at the Orangemen march in Ireland that year, with a young girl-- not more then seven-- at the forefront of the picture, doll in hand, fist raised and screaming in hate. That was where this piece started…it was such a vivid and horrific picture for me.
Right now I'm at the age where all of my friends are having children, so (the indoctrination of children is) a topic that (had been) running (through) my mind. If I'm against indoctrination, I would want my own children to be against indoctrination...but then am I not just indoctrinating them myself? Every individual or group thinks that their way is right, so in this respect who is worse-- the people with children at protest rallies holding signs against non-believers, or those with children holding signs against believers? Can any group actually take the moral high ground in terms of what they are training into their children?
You are originally from Australia and currently live in Berlin. The Berlin art scene is well known-- what is the craft scene like in Berlin? Is there overlap between the art scene and the craft scene there?
The craft scene is really only just developing here. It's a few years behind the US, UK and Australia in that respect and mostly because the Germans are amazingly hung up on the idea of Spießig. Spießig is a great word-- it means bourgeois, old fashioned, conservative...it's generally used to describe anything your parents like (and which, therefore, you are far too cool to do). I usually translate it as "think of ceramic flying ducks on a wall"…that pretty much covers the concept of Spießig for me. So avoiding Spießig-ness is the number one aim of every German under the age of forty, which means that crafting is generally avoided.
But all that said we have a few people beginning to push the craft scene here. A sewing cafe called Linkle, a crafting cafe called La Bastellerie and events such as Fashion Reloaded, a diy fashion recycling and upgrading show as part of Berlin Fashion Week, are slowly moving the crafting movement out of Spießig-ness. But we do have a way to go yet before we're really taken seriously by the ultra-cool artists.
Do you have any favourite artists or craftspeople who embroider, from the past or present?
Two embroiderers I admire are Jane Nicholas and Tracy Franklin-- amazingly skilled women. Jane is an Australian who brought stumpwork back en vogue, and Tracy is a Royal School of Needlework graduate who specializes in contemporary goldwork. As for embroiderers from the past...I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of antique embroidery…not because I dislike it per se, but because (I feel that) it usually doesn't offer me much, thematically or technically, to chew on.
Jacinta's installation Early Training will be on display during City of Craft in the window space at the Ontario Crafts Council, 990 Queen Street West (near Ossington Avenue, north side).
Images, from Top:
Early Training (in progress), embroidery on canvas, 2009
Early Training (detail shot, in progress), embroidery on canvas, 2009
Stitch Graffiti, cross stitch on canvas