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:
art experiments turning waste into beauty