Ask an Artist (or 4): "Creative Alterations/Hack your Closet" a brainstorm session with Works-in-Progress artists recorded August 1, 2020
We got 4 artists together to share some of their past experiments in altering clothes (and pillowcases) to give these textiles a a second, better life. The video is 15 minutes long but action packed with ideas and a variety of approaches to changing one thing into another with as little work or fuss as possible.
Thanks to artists Tanya Murdoch, Jiyoon Moon, Marnie Saskin and Leah Sanchez for sharing their work and ideas and enthusiasms. Pillowcases become shirts, skirts, dresses... old sweaters become bags and doll clothes and crazy new shirts... it's magic.
We are starting a new thing on our website: Artist talks and portfolios...
The artists in The Works-in-Progress collective all have their own things going on, and lots of it it pretty interesting and connected to why we do things together. Also, we don't always know how cool our friends/colleagues/partners are until we see an overview of their work... so we are starting with Leah Sanchez, my co-founder of Works-in-Progress.
Leah Sanchez had a rich life in the Philippines prior to immigrating to Canada in 2016, including running a resort, working as an architect and in 2010, she and her friend Binggoy started an up-cycled furniture company in Manila in response to the mountains of garbage created by super Typhoon Megi. Watch and get inspired! And then check out their website: https://resurrectionfurniture.ph/resurrectionfurniture.ph/
This is the Resurrection manifesto. I love it. the website is filled with poetry as well as objects to inspire:
Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery is an atypical atelier that produces unique pieces of furniture and works of art that use everyday found objects as their main components. It prides itself in being able to bring "dead" objects back to life by breathing into them witty and quirky designs.
We see dead objects.
We revive them.
We are Resurrection.
We had a brainstorming session last week with some creative Works-in-Progress artists. All of us use sewing machines but don't really know much beyond the basics so when we get together we always learn something, especially from experienced sewer Marnie Saskin. This time we had what Marnie called "an old lady talk" about needles (what kind you need, signs you may need a new one) and why to invest in a walking foot. It's a lot of useful info so I posted it to our useful info page as well as here.
AlsoPatch Pockets! We are trying to alternate between specific projects and more broadly applicable techniques of repair and textile techniques and technologies, with some fun things thrown in. So this was a specific skill with, as always, broader implications. We had a big discussion about lack of pockets on women's clothes tied into restricting mobility...
This workshop was lead by one of our more experienced fashion designers and also one of our youngest artists, Gabrie Mills. You can see label Futuristic Ruins on her instagram site @futuristicruins
Main takeaway? Iron! measure! measure again! cut and iron and iron some more. Really really. Also, harvest pockets from clothes and sweaters, or try a doily as a pocket! And make sure your pocket is big enough to fit your phone...
We had great new participants, Kate and Olive, and everyone messed up at some point but I came out with a pocket on my skirt and could go for a walk backpack free and still bring keys and phone so mission accomplished.
So back when we were doing the "Do it Together" Workshops - a very different time: in person workshops in the physically cold but warm to the soul space known as the Moss Park Market- one of the regular participants was this good human pictured above, Cairine. You can see unmasked photos of the workshops in previous blogs, like this one.
Cairine dove into making things full tilt, creating sachets ( a workshop lead by the series founder, Building Root's farmer and visionary, Kate Hamilton (you can read her blog here) and denim bags and all the things. And this Spring, once it reopened, she began volunteering in a very different time and place, the Building Roots community garden at Ashbridges estate. Also filled with warm humans, but in a hot space, needing masks... so she made masks. and then these great cooling neck ties. So we met up at the farm and brought her some more material from our stash and took some video (these are stills) and will make it into a thing but for now there are these.
Humans are awesome. And sometimes good things breed more good things. We love our partnership with Building Roots and all the humans we have met through it. More to come.
I am amazed at the assumptions I carry into new experiences. For example, when my husband and I began producing children, we thought we were pretty cool with gender fluidity, but when our boy cat turned out to be a girl cat partway through my first pregnancy, we freaked out, and decided there was no way we should have advance knowledge of our child's physical gender characteristics or we would project a lot of nonsense onto him/her.
Many years later, I thought I basically knew about kites. But most of us second/third generation settler Canadians get our kite info from English literature like Mary Poppins, Curious George, so all we know of kites is that they are flat, diamond shaped toys with a long tail of bows. But kites have a rich history outside of that world.
Gomo George grew up making and flying kites in the Caribbean island of Dominica. Spring is kite season and they have a big annual kite festival with strong grassroots support. He taught his children to make kites and his daughter Abby joined him to co-teach this workshop. They walked us through how to make a square kite using a bow and arrow style frame, and then a cross frame as well- all from up-cycled materials! Once you are a kite maker you see materials everywhere... light strong flexible sticks, wind resistant material, thread.
Even with a material list in advance most of us learning were all pretty sure that kites were made with a rigid crosspiece and a long tail. By contrast, the kites we made last Thursday were square kites, complex designs, many variations, all flexible and strong and delicate, with parts that talked to each other and supported and challenged each other.
It was a hot hot day and we had many last minute cancellations as school last days wrapped up and put pressure on the parents and teachers and many wifi issues across the city preventing access to the workshop, including the wifi of our artists, who had occasional drop outs from connection and overheating phone. Those who came were able to use the down time to work on kites and seek supplies.
If you missed the workshop, here is an edited version of it, minus the technical issues. Enjoy, and hope you are as inspired as we were.
If you can't stop and want to make more, Kate Hamilton from Building Roots did a deep dive on internet resources, and shares a bunch of links- thanks Kate! She says:
"I learned a lot by seeing similarities, could be a fun resource, here it is --"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8cI7EN97oU simple kite
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lmfwarW88E wrapping-paper kite, classic N.Am. kids' kite shape
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8dmllJeDRU hexagonal kite
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_NIp1dpFU0 palang kite (2 bags)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMtUaa4blgk swallow kite (3 colours - looks like stained glass : )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaDwoZrcHMs star kite
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=007ITSIrBYE a different star
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAFKe3FFh6Q box kite (launches beautifully)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc6JQzi-WTc rotor kite
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H08a2zReXs oval + circle spring kite (*leaps* into the air - and spins)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84mcxWmyqwc using colour - large butterfly (demo only)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UauRZcxSDI8 large bird kite
Visible Mending and Repair: a sustainable textile workshop with the Textile Museum of Canada (June 17th)
Marnie Saskin summarized the spirit of visible mending: mending used to be shameful but necessary, but now we are celebrating the work and the beauty of the work by making it visible. The photos below are show and tell from the workshop, plus some of the inspiration including Textile artist Anna Torma and her upcoming exhibit at the Textile Museum of Canada, and one of the samples of mending that Marnie's friend (and artist) Anna Borstad generously let us use. You can see more of her work here. We were also inspired by (but not experts in) Molas from the Kuna people Indigenous to the San Blas islands east of the Panama canal (here is a website I found just now, may be informative, can't really say) and the traditional Japanese Sashiko style mending (again, here is someone else's website)
A celebration of patching and mending at the Textile Museum of Canada in our third collaborative effort. We love working with the Textile Museum of Canada, and especially the people who participate in the workshops. This was another team effort, lead by textile artist/artisan Marnie Saskin and the questions from the participants. The video below gives you the flavour and most of the substance of the workshop. I left out the darning because we talked about that in a previous workshop but otherwise I included the back and forth as that really was part of the process. Lots of show and tell and very satisfied makers fired up to look for more holes to fill!
(3-4pm) Register now for an up-cycled kite making workshop on Thursday June 18th 3-4 pm! Contact us for a zoom invitation, All ages/families welcome.
Father's day is in a week- make a kite and share with your dad. We would like to gather some humans for a virtual family kite-making session, lead by a father daughter team (bonus dad points): artist Gomo George and his daughter Abeyomi (Abey) Bird-George. Abey is a former hairdresser and trained sommelier/ cocktail creator so she is good with her hands, very creative and a most welcome dinner guest. Gomo is a multimedia visual artist and storyteller; you can see a storytelling session in this video or check out an article with some images of his beautiful paintings of Dominican Carnival in Moko magazine here. He also has worked in front line social work as a programmer for many years, including institutions like the Stop and Fred Victor, and connected Works-in-Progress with Fred Victor to donate men's clothing after Works-in-Progress swaps events.
We are also cousins. When my family moved to Toronto in 2000, Gomo and his partner Atik and their kids were our local family, and when our kids were born they were our support- food, childcare, art. So in the video above, they made a zillion homemade kites for the kids at my daughter's birthday party. Gomo learned to do this as a kid growing up in Dominica, and has worked on his designs over the years and taught his own kids and now you can benefit from their experience to make your own kite, just in time for Father's day.
I also found this comic (below) I made back in 2010 about the kite teachings of "Aunty Omi" and Gomo. There are more of these comics on the Tanya Murdoch portfolio website here.
Upcoming workshops: we will be co-hosting a visible repair workshop at the Textile Museum of Canada on June 17th (already booked up) and then return on the 25th of June with Marnie Saskin for a WIP drop in version of the same workshop - same time as the kite workshop and then, two weeks later, we hope to return with some practical tips on altering clothes. You can contact us if you want to receive the zoom invitations to these drop in workshops.
We had our fist WIP hosted online roundtable, and it was super fun. We lead with socks, some up-cycling ideas we had heard or tried, got into a sock darning tutorial, made sock balls (could have made a few more, but you live, you learn) and did some show and tell, brainstorming and more socks. Here are a few ideas and then our darning tutorial:
First, socks: I showed how to make simple sock balls from 2-3 socks. Marnie shared her knee high rainbow door stopper (happy Pride!) and we talked about socks as masks, refurbished into slippers, used for chia pets, remade into toys and possibly used as poi by the cool kids on the beach (I didn't know what that was, here's a bunch of demos) We also talked about the cozy things fundraiser we did last year with grade 6 grads, making socks into wrist-warmers (started a mini craze) and hipster cupholders.
Show and tell: what had our lovely participants been making from things on hand? so many things. Danielle is a collage artist and has been creating DIY kits for her neighbourhood and beyond. Diane made chalk from eggshells, Leslie is spinning her own wool from dog hair and knitting a scarf (as well as feeding people via the people's pantry)
And repair. Marnie joked that she is doing all these winter prep activities, but she will be so ready when the seasons change. She will have: slippers (cut out the sole of a favourite sock and replace with a sweater) and new socks made from old sweaters and a doorstopper to stop the breezes and of course, we talked about darming socks. Learn some visible repair style in the video below:
We are - all of us, everywhere - having to connect at a distance these days, and much of that connection has moved online- with various success. Whatever version you use, the online meet up experience can be dreadful if you are using it for business meetings all day, However, it is a medium that can be used many different ways and we at Works-in-Progress have been experimenting with this medium and participating in the experiments of others to find ways to build community and create together online. Here is a roundup:
Life drawing classes! Thanks WIP artist Ines Scepanovic for turning us onto this group, organized out of Scotland with models around the world, participation by donation. I used up all my drawing paper 8-11 Sunday morning. The model is pinned to centre screen, better hooked up to your TV or larger screen, only recording on paper. Warn your fellow home dwellers about the naked folks on tv.
Live theatre reading: WIP artist Leah Sanchez and I have children at the same school, in drama, and her son organized a reading of The Princes Bride- some great quotes about masks by Wesley as the dread pirate Roberts. This was hilarious, whoever was reading (or laughing) showed up on screen, but you could see the other actors sword fighting in their little boxes. Very entertaining for participants and audience alike, with the structure dictating order.
Interactive workshop hosted by museum with volunteers: We have done two of these with the Textile Museum of Canada, both times with a curated group of makers, so everyone had opinions and brought show and tell and curiosity, it made for a lively workshop... two workshop leaders and an active host so there was a lot of back and forth, felt very warm. Another one coming up soon about repair, will share once they do.
Birthday party: only two computers with a family and cake at both ends. good for game playing too... too many people in a party, no matter how well meaning, hard to take turns and I think people feel disconnected and drift away.
Do it Together skill sharing: a curated themed gathering of people sharing skills and passions, coordinated by two ever curious hosts. At the last meeting on Sunday May 24th, the theme was working with nature, and included tree walk, poetry, puppetmaking, interview with a propmaster, a meditation on trees and WIP artist Leah Sanchez doing an artist talk about her passion project of 10 years, Resurrection Furniture and Found Art Gallery.
Appletree Markets TV Community activators, denied a venue for their seasonal urban farmer's markets, are taking their community show online, with weekly webcasts on youtube, featuring interviews and profiles of community members and vendors from their markets. This week their show included our video promoting OUR next online adventure, featuring socks (see below)
Works-in-Progress Drop in upcycling workshops and discussion: These will be bi-monthy free workshops, come and go as you please for WIP members and friends and community members, with simple ideas for up-cyling and a featured project every week to make with materials on hand. We start this Thursday, May 28th! EMAIL US TO REGISTER FOR THE ZOOM INVITE firstname.lastname@example.org
Drawing on Air: this last one is happening Friday May 29th and seems pretty cool: a directed communal drawing event guided by audio rather than visuals. Hosted by a gallery and radio station in Halifax, drawing then shared after on social media to see and compare.
art experiments turning waste into beauty