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.
Gorgeous day learning about how angora goes from bunny's back to the softest two ply yarn. Safiya spins her own yarn- some sourced from other raw/dyed wool, but some from the family angora rabbit, Foofy. With the reopening of the Textile Museum of Canada this fall, they are opening an upcycling centre, where you can purchase donated material and tools, take a workshop, and learn about the life cycle of textiles through displays and videos. So I went to Hamilton with family to record Safiya spinning wool and produce a video for the museum (visuals only). It was such a gorgeous day and light and ambieance and I haven't made a video for a while where I was outside, taking part... I forgot the pleasure of engaging in the world in this way, with someone who is immersed in what they are doing. So this video is a sidebar, made for pleasure, about the pleasure of a late summer day outside, making things... and the sounds of katydids. Also, the whole process is super compelling and hypnotic and something that must be seen. she makes it look easy.
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.
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!
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
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