Thank you, 2009!

Thank you to all the organizers, volunteers, vendors, installation artists, helpers, shoppers, and others who made City of Craft 2009 such a great hit. We are all very tired and looking forward to some much needed rest.

Also, big thank you to Katie Muth for designing those awesome cards and letting us have a few.

See you all in 2010!


Installations Recap and Acknowledgements

It's been a few days since City of Craft, and now that I've had a few decent night's sleeps to recover, I wanted to take a few minutes to thank all of the fantastic and talented installation artists who contributed to installation programming this year. You made this year's installations the incredible success it was...thank you for your hard/smart/beautiful work. Thanks also to everyone who offered up kind feedback and compliments about all of this year's installations.

I also want to give massive thanks to fellow organizers Becky, Leah and Jen for putting up with me and offering their support and advice even when they were drowning in work themselves; Shanell Papp (a stupendously talented and seriously sweet installation artist who attended the show...all the way from Saskatoon!) who was an enormous help with installation-related stuff during the day leading up to as well as the days of the show; and last but not least, Rosalyn Faustino for her invaluable help installing the City of Craft group show and for installation support as well...

I've included some documentation above of some of the installations that appeared both at the Theatre Centre and at Queen Street satellite venues. For even more documentation, check out the City of Craft '09 page of my Flickr account.

Looking very forward to next year!

Yours truly,

Tara B.


Are you wondering....

....if you won Toronto Craft Alert's Handmade Love Draw?

Click on these little guys and find out:

Sponsor Profile: Sublime Stitching

sublime stitiching

Who are you?
Sublime Stitching

Where are you located?
Austin, TX

What do you/your business/your product do? Up-to-date embroidery patterns, beginner's kits, and how-2's. Sublime Stitching was founded in 2001 by Jenny Hart, due to an overabundance of bunny-n-duckie patterns and outdated, overly-difficult instructions for embroidery. Unable to find alternative designs for embroidery that appealed to a new generation, Jenny decided to make them herself, and her indie internet craft biz, Sublime Stitching was born. Sublime Stitching introduced edgy embroidery patterns, all-in-one embroidery starter kits and entertaining, now-I-understand-it instructions to bring embroidery back to life for a new generation of makers.

What does your sponsorship for the show entail? A pack of cute iron-on transfers for hand embroidery! http://sublimestitching.com/patterns - these will pop up in the swag bags and raffle packs.

Sponsor Profile: Broken Pencil

Okay, so the show is over. But there were a couple of sponsor profiles that came in too late for us to post before the show. We love all of our sponsors, so of course we are going to share their info with you. Besides, how else were you planning on recovering from the show? Grab some tea and read up, citizens. - Becky

lindsay gibb - broken pencil

Who are you? Lindsay Gibb, editor, Broken Pencil - the magazine of zine culture and the independent arts.

Where are you located? Toronto, ON - but we ship our magazine around the world.

What do you/your business/your product do? We write about independent arts and culture. So, we cover everything from zines and small press publishing to interesting crafting projects, indie gamers and independent designers.

What does your sponsorship for the show entail? You will find a copy of our magazine in your bag - as well we have supported City of Craft through marketing at our annual event Canzine and on our website www.brokenpencil.com

Why handmade? I like the surprise of finding unique and unexpected things, and I find you get that the most from items that are made by individuals to suit their own tastes. Whether it's a zine with a certain point of view or clothing with creativity, I'd just rather shop at a craft or zine fair because you never know what you'll discover.

Are there any crafts you are especially tuned into at the moment? I'm a knitting fanatic. When I'm near yarn it's hard for me to get anything else done. I'd always rather be knitting.

Anything else we should know? Broken Pencil is currently running a different kind of fiction competition called Indie Writers' Deathmatch in which writers submit their work and the finalists' stories are pitted against each other until one emerges victorious. For more information visit http://www.brokenpencil.com/deathmatch


It's Done!


Sorry for not lasting forever, that is; Sorry that the City of Craft is not a permanent city we can all continue to live in.

That's right, another year is over and (as expected) it was bigger and better than ever!

Full appreciations and accolades will be coming tomorrow. For tonight, though, we expect you all to do as we are - resting, eating, bathing, and more resting.

Toronto (and beyond), you rock us.


City of Craft


Sponsor Profile: the workroom

Following is a sponsor profile from a very special place, the workroom. The relationship between City of Craft and the workroom goes back to a time before either project existed. Karyn was one of the attendees of Craft Chat TO, the first thing that Jen, Leah and I ever put together. It was early 2007 and both the workroom and City of Craft were just sparkles in our eyes. It has been nice to grow up together. - Becky

workroom storefront

Who are you?
I'm Karyn from the workroom - Toronto's crafty centre for sewing classes, gorgeous fabric, notions and community events.

Where are you located?
We are located in the heart of Parkdale at 1340 Queen Street West (at Brock) We are also at http://www.theworkroom.ca and http://www.makesomething.ca

What do you/your business/your product do?
the workroom provides you with the inspiration and instruction to get creative and make something. We do this through a wide range of classes teaching everything from basic sewing and alterations, beginner upholstery, quilting, clothing and accessories and natural dyeing. We also sell all the supplies and tools you need to get crafty. Browse our wall of colour sorted fabrics(including Liberty of London and Japanese imports), sewing patterns, books, Bernina sewing machines, metal purse frames and notions. the workroom hosts free monthly events like our Stitch n' Bitch and Quilt Sunday. During the year we also partner with City of Craft for smaller trunk shows and events.

workroom leatherclutch
Students at the workroom show off their handmade leather clutches.

What does your sponsorship for the show entail? the workroom has served as a drop off/pick up/meeting point/storage facility for the City of Craft event. We donated fabric for decorating the City of Craft venue. Generally the workroom tries to be as supportive to anything the City of Craft crew might need, since we love them so much. I'll also be giving a fun workshop on Saturday at the show. Join me and make a cute set of four fabric covered magnets. It's the perfect little gift that everybody loves.

Why handmade? Handmade brings us so much delight. The act of being involved with the process, learning new things, being thoughtful about our choices and interacting with other creative people is so satisfying. the workroom aims to provide the space and encouragement to anyone who wants to join us in making things with our hands.

Are there any crafts you are especially tuned into at the moment? Quilting! I personally have about six different quilts on the go and keep thinking of more. Our quilting classes are always sold out and we are getting so many more people of all ages dropping in to buy supplies for quilt projects. It's really exciting to see all the incredible quilts people are making.

workroom quiltbasting


One More Sleep.

Photo by needle book

Can you even handle your excitement?

More Reports From The Swag Pile.

Photo by city of craft

So...Shannon and I spent a good chunk of Wednesday night in the workroom's basement collating wonderful swag from our lovely sponsors into the totes and she, Anna and Day printed a couple of weeks ago. The stuffin's were just so good that I thought I would tantalize you with a little sneak peek.

Above are some generously packed lavender sachets from our first ever floral sponsor, Coriander Girl. They also come with a $2 token good for anything in the store.

Up here are some full fledged graphic novels from Drawn and Quarterly. It's true! Each of the 100 swag bag recipients will get one (and in many cases, two) entire books from Canada's preeminent publisher of graphic novels and comic arts! Books? Can you imagine?

Also in the loot is:
WORN magazines, Broken Pencils, SOAK samples, pencils and coupons from The Paper Place, Sublime Stitching patterns and various show-specific coupons from the likes of Le Petit Pig, mynta, Hand & Shadow, Kid Icarus & more!

Please note: some swag donors do not give us 100 items so bag contents may vary. But they are all awesome.

The weather tomorrow is also supposed to be nice so we can feel less awful about making people line up. And if you miss out on the swag, there are even more jam-packed raffle packs being handed out twice daily.

It's a wrap!

We owe a big thank you to Chantal Braganza at the Toronto Star for featuring three City of Craft vendors in her article and video piece about gift wrap, history and waste.

Thank you also to Tanya Roberts (Snap & Tumble) and Reva Quam (Mr. Skona) for sharing their gift wrap secrets. Oh and Becky Johnson of the sweetie pie press, too. But that's me, so it feels weird thanking myself.


Sweet Swag (come and get it. early.)

Heads up to lovers of awesome stuff:

Arrive early on Saturday to be one of the first 100 visitors to receive a swag bag featuring the winning design by Shannon Lea Adolph of coucou salut. Swags bags include graphic novels from Drawn and Quarterly, goodies from The Paper Place, iron-on embroidery patterns from Sublime Stitching, gift certificates from Coriander Girl Florist, indie press publications and coupons and vouchers for free stuff from City of Craft vendors to be used at booths during the craft sale. You will not be disappointed!

These go super quick (no joke!) so do not dawdle.

Sponsor Profile: Tealish

We are very happy to have Tealish on board once again for our annual tradition of throwing a mid-show tea party (this year on Sunday afternoon from 2:00pm - 4:00pm). Rounded out with sweets from Dufflet, this Sunday wind-down is the perfect antidote to your holiday mania. Read on...

Who are you?
Tealish - Modern Tea Boutique

Where are you located? 198 Walnut Ave, www.tealish.com

What do you/your business/your product do? Tealish features over 150 of the worlds finest teas. We carry a huge selection of traditional favorites from major growing regions including Japan, China, India, and Sri Lanka as well as vibrant and delicious blends of black tea, green tea, herbal tea, white tea and more! We also feature Toronto's biggest Tea Based Beverage Menu - we make tea lattes, fresh brewed iced teas, and even tea smoothies!

What does your sponsorship for the show entail? We are providing tasty hot tea to accompany the sweets for all thirsty shoppers on Sunday.

Why handmade? Because high quality, hand processed teas taste a million times better than the mass-market junk that fills most teabags!


Sponsor Profile: The Devil's Workshop

Topaz ring by Sarah Wan of The Devil's Workshop

Who are you? The Devil's Workshop - Jewellery Making Workshops, Custom Silver/Goldsmith and Handmade Ready to Wear Gallery.

Where are you located? We are located in the heart of West Queen West at 955 Queen Street West (South/West corner of Trinity Bellwood's Park).

What do you/your business/your product do? We offer Silversmith, Lost Wax Casting, Metal Printmaking, Enamelling, Bead Working and more to the total beginner or budding new talent or established jeweller. Learning how to manipulate fine metals with ease empowers our students to take their jewellery to the next level. We also offer ever popular Wedding Band Workshop held every Saturday, couples spend the day with us and make their wedding bands from scratch out of gold or silver in just one day! If making your own jewellery isn't' for you but you would still like custom one of a kind jewellery then commission us to make it for you!

What will you have at the show? Do you have any special plans for your table/space? At the City of Craft this year The Devils Workshop will Raffle off several classes, showcase student work.

Why handmade? When creativity hits me the only option is to sit down at my work bench and make. I am happy to be able to offer this creative outlet to others.

Students at The Devil's Workshop make their own wedding bands.

Are there any crafts you are especially tuned into at the moment? I am dying to learn how to Enamel, we offer a class but I have not had the time to take it. I have been enjoying metal etching, being able draw images directly onto jewellery really allows more creative freedom. Combining Etching and Enamelling will be my next new obsession!

Anything else we should know? This Valentines day we will be holding a very special workshop. Come into the shop and make a special Valentine Pendant with a secret message hidden inside! Also... We love what The City of Craft is doing!

Sponsor Profile: Toronto Craft Alert

Who are you? Jen Anisef/Toronto Craft Alert

Where are you located? On the interweb: http://torontocraftalert.ca

What do you/your business/your product do?
We are an online (and occassionally offline) resource for the Toronto-area craft, DIY & design community. We spread gossip (the good kind) about craft-related happenings, shops, makers, supplies, sales, and pretty much anything anything crafty going down in Toronto. Also a space for the craft-inclined to connect with their kinsfolk!

What does your sponsorship for the show entail? We are a mouthpiece for City of Craft news developments - we spread the word about applications, volunteers, the big weekend, and related programming. We also provide free ad space for the event & some swag bag goodies. I personally shed loads of sweat & tears (no blood...yet) putting together the show itself as one of the co-organizers.

Whah will you have at the show? Do you have any special plans for your table/space? Our main purpose at the show is to connect with our readers and to cultivate new ones. We want to meet you guys and answer any questions you have about the project, hear your suggestions, and hear about what you do.

We definitely have a special plan: The Handmade Love Draw, where you can enter a ballot with your favourite object for sale at City of Craft 2009 under $100 and if your name is drawn, we'll buy it for you! You just need to come to our booth to enter and check the site on Monday Dec. 14 to see if you've won.

Why handmade? I think most people reading this blog will relate - there is a special energy that comes from using (be it aesthetically or practically) a handmade object that you just don't get from mass-produced goods. I was reading the gift guide in Metro a couple of days ago and everything was from Homesense and the like, and it was so hard to imagine choosing to give someone I care about something made by a machine. I do have faith that slowly the mainstream is catching on to the inherent value of buying handmade (and supporting a local, independent economy) & making stuff yourself...I hope we can play a part in spreading the good crafty word!

Are there any crafts you are especially tuned into at the moment?
Learning shibori and other natural dyeing techniques is definitely on my to-do list. I am slowly buiding a database of textile patterns as I'd like to design some myself someday.


Craft Lab: Workshops

Sit down with these friendly Craft Lab technicians to make little treasures you can take home. Spaces are limited, so arrive early!

Experiment: Fabric Magnets (25 people max)

Time: Saturday, 12:30 - 1:30 pm
Technician: Karyn from the Workroom
Location: Upper Mezzanine of Theatre Centre
Make a sweet set of four fabric-covered magnets with the workroom, using leftover scraps of fabric. A simple, thrifty, yet useful gift that is easy to make for all ages and skills. Each magnet set will be housed in a custom laser-cut card with a holiday message, ready for giving. Materials included.

Fabric Magnets

Experiment: Make your own paper puppet with the Pin Pals (15 people max)
Time: Sunday, 4 - 5 pm
Technician: Sara of PinPals

Location: Upper Mezzanine of Theatre Centre
In this workshop, Sara, one half of the Pin Pals, will show you how to cut out and assemble a print out of a Pin Pal paper puppet. Each print out comes with a piece of iron on vintage fabric that you can stick on his or her clothes. Once finished the puppet holds a paper pine tree and folds up into an envelope, ready to be given to a friend or loved one. Materials included.

Paper Puppet

Craft Lab: all-day workshops

The Craft Lab is back at City of Craft! Experiment with Craft Lab technicians in wonderfully mysterious workshops.

Experiment: Paint-by-numbers photobooth
Technician: Spins & Needles

Location: Upper Mezzanine of Theatre Centre

Drop by the Spins & Needles Photobooth throughout the day to have your photo taken, which will then be converted to a paint-by-number portrait. Take a walk around the sale, and when you return, sit down with some paint or markers, or take the portrait with you to fill in using your own selected colours.

paint by numbers photobooth

Experiment: learn to knit, and knit a pincushion
Technician: The Knit Cafe
Location: the Knit Cafe, 1050 Queen Street West

Saunter across the street from City of Craft to the Knit Cafe for rogue knitting instructions for one and to all. Learn the basics- cast on, knit, and cast off. Take these new (or old) skills and knit the tiniest of things! a pincushion to take home. Snacks and warm drinks will be served all day to keep crafters and shoppers going.

knit pin cushion


Sponsor Profile: Dufflet Pastries

For the 2009 show, we are very happy to be able to offer a pop-up tea party on Sunday afternoon courtesy of Dufflet (read below) and Tealish. Read on to learn more about the mouth-watering pasteries involved...

Who are you? Dufflet Pastries

Where are you located? 3 Toronto Retail Café Locations
Downtown: 787 Queen Street West, Ph: 416-504-2870 - retail@dufflet.com
Uptown: 2638 Yonge Street, Ph: 416-484-9080 (closed Mondays) - retail2@dufflet.com
Beach: 1917 Queen Street East, Ph: 416-699-4900 - retail3@dufflet.com

What do you/your business/your product do? Dufflet Pastries offers an extensive selection of handmade desserts, light lunches and specialty coffees for eat-in or take-out. Distinctive gift items and greeting cards, gourmet candy and chocolates round out the Dufflet repertoire - Toronto's most talked about destination for wedding and birthday cakes.

What does your sponsorship for the show entail? A donation towards dessert from our Dufflet Small Indulgences Morsels: Sublime Raspberries in Pure Dark Chocolate (Tart raspberries enrobed in rich dark chocolate giving a burst of flavour)

Why handmade? Dufflet's product line is entirely natural and hand-crafted from scratch, using only premium ingredients, with no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives

Anything else we should know? EAT MORE CAKE!


Sponsor Profile: The Paper Place

Who are you? The Paper Place

Where are you located? 887 Queen Street West, Toronto

What do you/your business/your product do? We carry thousands of beautiful papers from Japan and around the world as well as unique arts and craft supplies and tons of gift ideas. Whether you are an established artist or someone who has always wanted to create a simple card or a unique wedding invitation, our goal at The Paper Place is to provide an environment where everyone can be inspired by the beauty, history and endless possibilities of paper.

What does your sponsorship for the show entail? 100 swag bags given out at City of Craft will have a gift from our store attached to a coupon for 10% off a purchase at our store or online shop.

What will you have at the show? Do you have any special plans for your table/space? At City of Craft we will have a variety of supplies and kits to feed the spirit of DIY. This year we will also be featuring some gift items from our store that are handmade and local.

Anything else we should know? Check out our online shop and our new blog!


Installation Artist Spotlight: The Caribou Collective

The Caribou Collective are a group of 11 makers who are responsible for what will be one of the focal points of next week's main event...a 10 foot tall knit tornado! The following interview with collective member Ellie Chesnutt talks a bit about collectivity and knitting up a storm...literally!

Tell me more about The Caribou Collective. How many of you are there, and what sorts of skills and backgrounds contribute to the collective's projects and activities?

Well, we are pretty much brand-spanking new as a formal collective, but the concept is this: The Caribou Collective is an amorphous group operating under the mandate that the nature of the project decides who is involved. So, whatever skills are required to realize a concept, existing members are called upon or new members are recruited until the complete skill set is established.

So, the idea of the collective in our case is really about stockpiling ability rather than people. As I mentioned, it is project-focused. So, the vision for a piece can come from a single source and be carried out by a selection of Caribou. Each person knows that when they want to carry out a project, they simply call on the relevant hands to bring the idea to fruition.

The individual Caribou involved in this City of Craft project include eleven artists and crafters, combining a variety of strengths and experience. Cumulatively, our skills include knitting, sewing, crochet, mixed-media installation, photography, stained glass, writing, film, paper-mache, video, painting, web and sound art.

Your installation for City of Craft is an enormous, hand-knit tornado. Why do you feel knitting was the the most suitable medium for this installation?

Well, my own work often incorporates aggression and tedious repetition. In terms of process, I enjoy taking something that has velocity and rendering it very slowly and methodically, although the end product isn’t always this still – I’m used to working in video.

As a medium, knitting is slow, but there is a lot of motion that goes into it that you can’t see in the end. The final product is so still that it masks the movements that created it. I thought it could do the same for the tornado – to take the movement out of it.

Knitting the tornado in strictly garter stitch furthered the tedium – it started to feel like meditating. You can’t help but think about the similarities and differences between the comforting, cozy and methodical and the violent and unpredictable.

Was it ever a concern of yours that you may not have enough time or person-power to make the tornado as large (approximately 10 feet tall!) as it ended up?

It definitely provoked a few of us to wake up with the sweats in the middle of the night screaming, “yarn!” But, we’re feeling much better now.

The original idea was to go between six to eight feet tall; and, at the time, even that felt like a tall order. We consoled ourselves by saying in part the size would be dictated ultimately by the space available; so, if we had to go shorter... And we wanted to leave enough room between the floor and the bottom so that people could crouch down and get inside the tornado.

But, people just went berzerk with the knitting, even before we had received notice from the COC that we were going to be in the show. Also, I think throughout the main tornado body stage we all feared that we were behind schedule, then it turned out we were way ahead of where we needed to be. There was a fair bit of calculating and recalculating how much length was required. As we got to the target number of feet, the faith in the math went out the door and we kept thinking, "We need more!"

Happily, with 18 feet of height at the Theatre Centre, we were able to go a bit bigger than the original plan and viewers won’t have to get their knees dirty to get inside the tornado.

What other projects has The Caribou Collective collaborated on? Do your projects involve recurring themes or interests?

Like I mentioned, the collective is actually a recent invention, formally. But the members involved in this project have created individual works with common themes such as natural and man-made disasters and the sciences. Aside from the tornado… a series of weather-related disasters would make a great show!–- although no Caribou have signed on for tsunami duty yet…

One other recurring commonality is things that are very big. Go big or go home could be our other mandate, besides all that stuff about collecting skills. If we had the time, money, space, we would only work on house-sized projects, turning simple things into spectacles and revealing the details of the small and inconsequential.

What, in your opinion, are some of the best things about working collectively?

For me, I really appreciate the communication aspect. You have to articulate ideas clearly enough that another person could carry out exactly what's in your head, using very specific details. So, pitching a project is almost like the piece’s first showing. You want to excite your collective with a “finished” idea in the way you want someone to be excited when they first see your art in person. As you discuss the idea, people give you their spin and the idea gets better. Together, you think further ahead into the details of the why and how. I think each person pushes themselves harder to make the project more compelling and that leads to healthy competition too.

I also hate the idea of being bound by my own personal ability. I strongly believe in the value of seeing works realized, rather than getting a credit. So, if I have an idea that I don’t know how to execute completely, I love that a collective acts as a vehicle for just putting something out there.

Sponsor Profile: Shameless Magazine


Who are you? Shameless Magazine

Where are you located?
P.O. Box 68548
360A Bloor St. W.
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1X1

What do you/your business/your product do? Shameless is Canada’s independent voice for smart, strong, sassy young women. It’s a fresh alternative to typical teen magazines, for girls who know there’s more to life than makeup and diet tips. Packed with articles about arts, culture and current events, Shameless reaches out to readers who are often ignored by mainstream media: freethinkers, queer youth, young women of colour, punk rockers, feminists, intellectuals, artists, activists — people just like you! We tackle teen life with wit and wisdom.

What does your sponsorship for the show entail? Magazines for swag bags.

shameless readers
Proof that reading Shameless makes you a cooler person.

Why handmade? We report on hand made and DIY culture and are an independently run magazine made up entirely of volunteers.

Are there any crafts you are especially tuned into at the moment? Our DIY issue [pictured up top] is on newsstand now!

Anything else we should know? Subscribe now for only $10!

Want to know more about the fine humans behind Shameless? Take a gander over here.


banner making time

Roisin here, the Doer of Things That Need Doing. like banners! I'm a screenprinter, and volunteered to make a large banner that could be used at this event, and at other City of Craft events, too. I have previously made a very large banner for the halifax crafters, so I knew what I wanted to do right away.
I started by taping together sheets of newsprint the same size as my fabric, and drawing out what I wanted on the banner. it's a good thing I had a second side to that paper, otherwise it may have ended up as 'City of Cra', and we all know where that would have led us!

then I put a large cutting mat under one section, and cut everything out with an exacto knife, remembering to save the 'middles' of the letters that had them.

next, I taped the paper down to the canvas, using lots of little 'bubbles' of tape. this took a while, but is worth it in the end.

Finally, the fun part. I then printed with my patterned screens over top of the newsprint, using a variety of colours and patterns. this is where the work to stick everything down with tape comes in handy - the newsprint curls when it's wet [like when it's screenprinted upon], and all those bubbles kept everything in place, and tidy.

layers, layers, layers!

and here's a peek - you'll have to come to the show to see the whole thing, but i think it looks just great. mind you, I'm a little biased.



Installation Artist Spotlight: Shanell Papp

Shanell Papp is a Saskatchewan-based artist who we're thrilled to have participating in this year's installation programming. Her contribution to City of Craft, LAB #4, is a life-sized skeleton and organs made completely out of knitted yarn. Much of her textile-based work deals with the human body and physical vulnerability. Read on to find out more about her process and her other weird and wild work...not for the squeamish!


LAB is an ongoing body of work that you began in 2005. How has LAB evolved from 2005 to the present?

LAB evolved out of an earlier project, Body, that I did in 2005. I made an exact replica of myself from wood, pantyhose, spandex and plaster. Body was an important work for me (because) I was reconsidering materials and processes in my work. Before this point I was mainly a photographer. Body was my first more textile-based sculpture.

In the summer of 2005, I began making the yarn skeleton LAB, which took three months to complete. I showed the work in a student show and in 2006, I graduated from Univerity of Lethbridge with my BFA. I continued to work on LAB an made the primary organs for the skeleton (heart, brains, liver) and it was accepted into a few shows—a group show at SAAG (Southern Alberta Art Gallery), in Vancouver at Galery Gachette and in Calgary for The New Gallery. It was really overwhelming…I didn’t expect the work to travel that so much.

Every time I show LAB it is displayed differently and the work is still under construction—parts are repaired and other parts are being replaced. I think I may never finish it, which is okay. I like that the work is constantly evolving, changing and growing. I still need to make arteries, veins, muscles, skin, hair, eyes, etc.

In your statement about LAB, you refer to your interest in “the human body and textiles in combination.” How would you define the relationship between textiles and the body?

Textiles and the body share a close relationship with the clothing we wear to protect the body. Textiles are delicate and in constant need of repair and cleaning, and our bodies are in need of constant repair and cleaning, but over time, all our work will only extend the life of a material that will not last forever.

Textiles are essentially big, giant, organized knots, like the human body is a giant knot of cells that are somewhat the same, but different and bound together. And some textiles/fabrics are made from the flesh of animals, which I think is interesting.

What attracts you to slow, tactile methods of making such as knitting?

I do work slowly and with my hands, but this is part of a larger technique. I am interested in making objects out of low, familiar, everyday materials and adjusting them to be unexpected. I like to have a personal relationship with my materials, so this could explain my devotion to making handmade objects, but I think textiles are the best material to elicit an empathetic and familiar response, so I use (them) primarily to as a technique to aid the meaning of the work.

You are currently pursuing an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Saskatchewan, so I’m sure you’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio. What other projects are you working on right now?

Currently I am making several pieces-- (one is) a suit from old printing press mats called Pressure Suit and I think of it as an astronaut or deep sea diving suit that protects the wearer in harsh or unknown environments. I am also working on a series of Blood Pools (working title) that resemble blood pools made from head injuries. I was looking at a lot of crime scene photography and was thinking about how (crime seem photos don’t) seem real, (and) how (the people in the photographs look like) they are sleeping and I wanted to make the blood pools to enhance my disbelief. I also made a life size horse from carefully tailored garbage bags. I am interested in building objects about exploration, vulnerability and the 19th Century.

In the past I have made video, photography and comic book works. I plan to make an autobiographical graphic novel and/or a historical graphic novel about the Arctic…hopefully I will get around to this someday.


For more on Shanell's installation LAB, take a look at her portion of the City of Craft installations page.