We have lead a few workshops in the past couple of months ("workshop season") and every time we do one, we try new approaches. Ontario, for better or for worse, is welcoming in person events again, and we are cautiously on board BUT but we also like the accessibility of the online workshop. Plenty of people- whether because of distance, ability or inclination- prefer online to in person.
We did three workshops in this past couple of months. Here's a summary:
January 26 Scraps challenge! We did a quick summary of the Scraps challenge! workshop, hosted by the Textile Museum of Canada in our last blog post. The entire workshop can be viewed online at the TMC website here.
We were trying to work back and forth between the micro and the macro, techniques, materials and connection of sustainability in this way with larger ideas or sustainable practice. So I did an intro to our collective and ideas of sustainability, Marnie Saskin shared her love of experimenting and her impressive breadth of knowledge and ideas of what to do with scraps. We went a little deeper with a hands on project, making patches from scraps (as a gift to future you) with some beautiful results pictured above. Marnie also gave a studio tour to show how she organizes her scraps AND, because we don't feel there is a "right" approach, only a "right for you" approach, we included another voice via video. Educator/artist Nancy Rawlinson has a different but also compelling approach to working with scraps, check out this video below:
January 29 Upcycle yer sweater workshop As our residency at Double take wrapped up we delivered a workshop about upcycling sweaters that included a small hands on project for participants, making handwarmers. Bit of a tried and true workshop, new audience, so we gave a little profile of us as a collective, but otherwise it was a lively back and forth discussion of all things wooly- very cozy. Plus, Double Take paid us instead of our grant! Sweet. Here's some pictures from the workshop, and below that a description and links to videos
"Great advice for would be up-cyclers on turning an old sweater into useable material- some inspiration -and a simple project to make with your smaller sweater scraps. This is an online workshop hosted by Double Take store and lead by Marnie Saskin with support from Tanya Murdoch and Leah Sanchez, all from Works-in-Progress art collective. Works-in-Progress was one of the artists in residence at Double Take from November 2021-February 2022."
Part one: Intro to Double Take and Works-in-Progress
Part two: all about wool
Part three: making a hand warmer
Part four: deconstructing a sweater + Q and A and some burning
March 4 2022 Cutlery Wrap workshop with Building Roots- In person AND online
We are reunited with Kate Hamilton from Building Roots for the first "Do it Together" workshop in 2022. It is our first indoor in person workshop since the pandemic started (and it was our last as well) and we wanted to keep the workshop as an online version as well. So Marnie was our host and a new artist, Alex Verkade, joined Leah and Kate and I in person at a new location in the east end of Toronto, the Neighbourhood food Hub near Gerrard and Coxwell. The result was a bit loud for the people on zoom (we muted ourselves for much of the time, coming back together to check in, ask questions and show and tell.
I put it all together in a video below, to give an idea of the feel of it and also to hopefully give you some idea of how to make yourself a fabric wrap to carry utensils, cutlery, art supplies or tools. We brought sewing machines to the site and our online participants had their own. It was great to see the fairly new-to-sewing participants in person make their own beautiful wrap- and do a lot of troubleshooting with Leah and Alex along the way. Marnie did a great job of providing clear steps and plenty of alternatives for both people online and in person. It was a lot of fun and really great to be an in person team again.
--blog post by Tanya Murdoch
A note on sustainability: We are able to provide FREE workshops like this because of an Ontario Arts Council Artists in Communities and Schools grant that allows us to pay artist fees and develop samples for the workshops. We also have a Waste Reduction Community Grant from the City of Toronto that allows us to document and share them via video.
The residency: From November 2021-Feb 2022 Works-in-Progress Artist Collective had a spot as one of three artists in residence at Double take Thrift store, a fundraising shop that supports the work of Yonge Street Mission. It was a time of change for the store: opening a new Upcycling Studio and adding in staff to support more of an online presence and an upcycling program. For us, we have not really been interested in retail as a collective, though individual artists have run etsy stores and craft markets. So this was an opportunity to dabble, with staff support and 75% commission going to the artists on all sales. PLUS Double Take hosted (and funded) a workshop that we ran and we maintained a street presence in the big store windows of the studio. It was great for all concerned.
art of our mandate as a collective is to support artists and encourage makers, and we added new artists to our collective through this project (Profiles and links to all the artists we play with are on our website, here)
In the end, we gained new subscribers to our newsletter and on our instagram feed, we were able to reach people via the website as well, with 75-100 views a week.
And over the 4 months we were in the store we made
$300+309.75+345= $954.75 for Works-in-Progress individual artists including $18 from sales of Tshirt bags and Extember 'zines
100+103+115=$318 Profit for Double Take store.
We sold a total of 61 items + 49 items + 72 =182 upcycled items all together AND
one artist donated her 39.75 in profit to the collective
And of course, we all did a little thrifting and met some new artists along the way.. One artist who joined us in January- Alex Verkade- decided to apply to be artist in residence this Spring and is now one of three great new artists in Double take. Another artist- Anya Laskin- joined in December and made a few dozen patches that we can use in future projects. Former participant turned maker Cairine Fong joined us to make masks and beeswax wraps; Lukas Bautista displayed his hand-painted clothes, Anna Borstad had collage cards, Safiya Saskin contributed pompom earrings (a big hit and Gabrie Adair kept us supplied in masks and scrunchies throughout. Nancy Rawlinson brought her repair and upcycling passion to our swap in September and then brought us an eclectic mix of chickens of encouragement, knit socks and wine sleeves. Marnie made a backdrop of textiles and biophilic lamps for the display and a good collection of her cozy items from her stash and I tried muffs, scarves and very dense pillows. Everything found at least one home and we had fun making the sewing kits and patches. Could not have gone better.
--blog post by Tanya Murdoch
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.
Many people across Canada (and the world) are just learning about the 215 children found buried in an unmarked grave outside of a residential school in Kamloops BC. Works-in-Progress artist Jiyoon Moon made this image as a way of processing this information.
"Those moccasins..." she writes. "I can't imagine what it would feel like to have my kids taken away from me..."
It is not new information, but it has brought home the findings of the TRC. In 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission completed a process begun in 2008 with the apology by then PM Stephen Harper to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis people whose lives had been affected by residential schools. There was a thorough report based on the witness stories of thousands of former students and staff of residential schools across Canada, and 94 calls to action for schools, governments and individuals. You can find out more here on the TRC site: http://www.trc.ca/about-us/trc-findings.html
As artists (writers, musicians, performers) you need to process. Making images, writing poems, singing songs, helps us to internalize information, seek the truth, true relationships with the truth, a way to communicate your truth and best medium for making the truth felt. Another artist in our collective, Marnie Saskin, tried to understand the recent renewed conflict in Israel and Palestine, as someone who has no skin in the game, and she felt it helpful to consider the settler relationship to this land. I will add that when I find it :)
And me, i am a video artist and painter (here's my video site) my daughter and husband are writers and speakers and I can use my tech skills to share their voices. Ursa is now 18, but she gave this speech back in 2015 for a grade 6 speech arts contest at her elementary school. It is a fantastic summary of the tragedy of residential schools in our shared history. (turn on Close captioning, the audio is a little like it was recorded in a gym, which it was.)
It was 6 years ago this week that the TRC issued their calls to action, including a demand for churches and governments to release their records so we can know about the unreported deaths like these 215 lives in Kamloops.
We all need to understand our shared history. Inform yourself, whatever your process.
Our stereotype of the artist, the entrepreneur, the scientist, the explorer is of a person alone, creating, competitive, secretive. We embrace a different model- while we need to spend time on our own work, we all benefit from working together, sharing our work and knowledge and funding and networks.
We have worked in the same arena as Helen Frank, aka local mender and "craftivist" @HelenMendsto, taking part in Eco Fair last Fall, and then made a video of her workshop at the Textile Museum of Canada this Spring. And when we saw that she was bringing her workshop to Yonge street Mission, we offered to make a video to share, so here it is.
We are excited to have connected with the work being done by Yonge street Mission through their storefront Double Take. We hope to work with them further, via swaps, mending kits with Building Roots and maybe programming or art initiatives. Yay!
art experiments turning waste into beauty