Artists have a unique approach to reuse and repair, usually finding their own path to making things whole. It is an approach that works for some of us, where the step-by-step instructions may not. To explore this, we will be interviewing artists who repair/reuse items or make use of found objects in their work, developing transferable skills on the way.
The first artist featured is a musician, Greg Chambers, who (with his wife Lisa Nighswander) have been part of the Toronto indie music scene since the 1990s. (Currently, they play together as part of the band Away Forward). They have also spent many years working in theatre production and when the pandemic hit, Greg found both skills served him well and developed a side hustle of fixing amps and other musical electronics.
This video is a work in progress still- we are working on animation to unite the theme of the video, but we are grateful to Greg for giving us his time and perspective. If you need an amp or stereo repaired, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is supported by the City of Toronto through its Waste Reduction Community Grants and by the Ontario Arts Council through its Artists in Education and School Grants.
There is enough if we share.
We love Little Free Libraries. But how about a...Little Free ART Library?
Participating in Works-in-Progress helps me practise that walk away from a scarcity mindset. During the shut-down I signed up to our neighbourhood's Buy Nothing Network. It's been fascinating witnessing stuff shuttle around the neighbourhood in real time, helping people out, moving to homes who could very much, yes please!, use those empty plastic plant pots/really old golf clubs/extra plastic grocery bags/kid's bike/cookbooks.
And it's helped me feel more connected during an isolating time in a fun, casual way.
The cupboard is from that network. The plastic sheet is from my friend Anna. The super-not-environmentally-friendly-but-outdoor-sturdy paint was leftover from a project of older child's years ago.
Plan: cut out middle of doors, finish painting them to match frame (and cover that beige!), add plastic, re-attach, add knobs. Add legs/spikes on the bottom to secure in lawn. Add roof. And of course, decorate :-)
Ta-Da! Little Free ART Library!
After years of (and ongoing) homeschooling, we have plenty of art supplies and things that can be used as art supplies. Some of them have been handed down, some passed to our youngest child from our oldest, some found, some gifted to us, some bought and well-loved, some bought and hardly used, waiting for someone to be interested.
This is our un-tidied-up workspace. (Though as many of you now experience, the whole house is a learning space). It's also a works-in-progress ;-) We're hoping to share what we have, to give back, to have fun. To be a place to go to on a walk with your kid to discover what's there, then see what they can create with what they find.
Oh, and there will definitely be a few Works-in-Progress kits and Extember issues in there. Gotta spread the love and the walk ;-) There is enough if we share.
Behold the humble pom-pom. Though small, it is mighty in its ability to spread joy.
Tanya had I recently had the opportunity to herd a small flock of kindergarteners through their first pom-pom making experience via Zoom. The skills required are: be able to wind yarn around an object (fingers, piece of cardboard, commercial pom-pom maker tool), tie a knot, and use scissors. There was much creative commotion, innovation, imagination, and only a few tears. We were excited to see the kids come of with their own uses for their creations, which included attaching a single pom-pom to a headband (adorable!) We also witnessed the making of friendships in a way that all adults should remember is direct and effective. One kid simply asked another kid if they wanted to be their friend :-)
However, as in friendship, there are many paths to pom-pom success (hover over or click photos for instructions):
You might get excited and want to spread the pom-pom love in multiples:
You might say "But I have no yarn!" No worries! You can make pom-poms out of string, or t-shirt yarn that you made yourself out of an old t-shirt. I've even made an emergency pom-pom out of toilet paper that is now a toy for our pet bunny :-) Works-in-Progress loves to make things out of other things that might have outlived their usefulness. For instance, using a lone or worn-out sock:
A basket of these makes for excellent indoor "snowball fights" :-)
The tiny fork-made pom-poms are great for earrings!
Pom-poms really are a good way to use up extra yarn, make something tired into something fresh (like a hat that you're bored of), add a little fanciness to your life (like a pom-pom headband, elastic tie or earrings), or just chuck at each other for fun.
We have begun an interesting group coaching process, with professional coach in training and friend of the Works-in-Progress collective, Amy Brown. We met individually over the past month, and as a group last week. We are her first group coaching experiment, so we are all moving forward in faith, as you do, in the usefulness of the process. So far, very interesting, and as we take steps, the path gets revealed. Here's a link to a VIA strengths quiz, if you like that kind of thing... it's free!
Part of the process is identifying some core values of the group. We are still working on it but on the list was play, creativity, sustainability, and an integrity of purpose. We want the collective to support our members and build a community. To that end we are doing artist talks, seeking funding to both host workshops and pay artists to create online materials.
One of our artists- Ines Scepanovic- has an annual gig as a butter sculptor for the Royal Winter Fair. So awesome. This year they asked her to come back, online, as part of a nation wide online contest. So of course I offered to make a video with her, support her as she ventures into online workshop world. But, should it be a Works-in-Progress thing because, of course, butter sculpture is off brand :) We wrestle with using food in other projects, like rice or flax in hand-warmers, both for the food waste and the cost.
It is a work-in-progress. We are artists and want to make things because they are beautiful and sometimes that means using material that is not up-cycled or recyclable or even toxic, but materials and alternatives are always part of the discussion.
For now, some play. The skills Ines shares in this video transfer to working with other material And, while butter sculpture is wasteful, it is not toxic, it is ephemeral and, in the end, as Ines says, if your hands were clean, you can always keep your finished sculpture in the fridge and use it on your toast.
there is another video on our instagram feed- she did make the chicks in the end as well.
art experiments turning waste into beauty