One is silver, the other gold
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
Pom Pom Extravagaza
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.
Marnie has been making a lot of these (and upcycled blankets and masks) and cranked up the old online store as well, check out www.marniesaskin.com
art experiments turning waste into beauty