Some images from today's online workshop, part of the sustainable Textile Teach-in series run by the Textile Museum of Canada, the fourth one we have done together. This one was Hosted as well by EcoFair Toronto 2020, during #wastereductionweek
Our hosts invited a tailor, Helen, who runs a business called Helen Mends- she began offering repair services in Toronto just a few years ago, with a mission to help divert waste by repairing and teaching repair skills, and it was really great to have her skills in the mix. We hope we can do more collaborations with her in the future!
The workshop was very well attended... the eventbrite was maxed out in a few days so the hosts set up an "overflow room" on youtube live. Hosts estimate 80+ people, and we have heard from the chat, the hosts and on social media that attendants were inspired and had fun so mission accomplished.
Here are the takeaways: If you need to get new clothes, swap, purchase second hand or invest in clothes that are single fiber well made clothes worth the investment. Don't buy more than you need. If you have more than you need, swap or find a new home where you know they are needed before you unload them where they may not be needed. If you manage your own textile waste you know it is not ending up in the landfill, where possible find a new use for old textiles- stuff your own pillow, make rags, repair them or use them as patches. Stylish and fun.
Eco Fair 2020 will be posting the video from today's workshop, and we will be posting excerpts of the useful bits on our website soon. Thanks Aelena, Annette, Leah, Marnie, Helen and all the teams for a great day.
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.
Sometimes it takes a while, but by popular demand, here is the latest video from a workshop we actually hosted over the summer...
Really love all the approaches our artists take to both making and sharing knowledge. Gabrie brings many hours (and yards and yards) of hands on sewing experience despite her less many years on earth, and is good at passing on both the minimum effort needed and also the details you should pay attention to if you want to do it right. Even something that seems straightforward, like patch pockets, really can benefit from some experience to work out the kinks.
We just sent in a grant application with the City of Toronto Waste Reduction Community Grant program (we were shortlisted!) with our community partners Building Roots acting as our trustee. The grant is to do things like this- take workshops we are doing and record and use that material to create videos and graphics to post online for people to see after the fact- seems like a good idea!
It is amazing how much can be achieved by a small group of determined people. And a good poster- art makes it real. Witness the concept to execution above of the great swap poster by the great artist Treya Beaulieu.
We have done many swaps over the years, every one has an added challenge? refinement? tweak? Our goal with these swaps is literally to swap clothes around from where they are no longer needed to clothe a new person, avoiding waste and keeping clothes in use. We are not interested in handouts (though if it can help people in need, all the better) but rather in each of us helping each other. We all have something to give and we all benefit from asking for help.
This swap structure kept that philosophy all the way through. It sprang from a concept hashed out by Leah Sanchez and I (Tanya Murdoch) because we want to keep having swaps and community building events in spite of a pandemic that makes our usual setup impossible. Also, our children outgrew their back to school cords sometime during the longest March break ever.
It took a month, from concept to execution. We had support spreading the word from local Councillor Josh Matlow and trustee Shelley Laskin as well as the Davisville School council. With a little more time and when it is slightly less weird we will have institutional support from local churches and can tie in swap shopping with the local shelter, so we could have an adult swap as well- next time. Also, in my dream, more T-shirt bags and bunting and maybe locally made masks for sale as well. We want to support local artists and makers.
Here's how it works, if you want to reproduce (or get our help. We would love to partner and grow this idea)
Some suggestions for next time (we are thinking Earth Week 2021):
Final feedback from this first annual back-to-school neighbour to neighbour clothing swap:
Ask an Artist (or 4): "Creative Alterations/Hack your Closet" a brainstorm session with Works-in-Progress artists recorded August 1, 2020
We got 4 artists together to share some of their past experiments in altering clothes (and pillowcases) to give these textiles a a second, better life. The video is 15 minutes long but action packed with ideas and a variety of approaches to changing one thing into another with as little work or fuss as possible.
Thanks to artists Tanya Murdoch, Jiyoon Moon, Marnie Saskin and Leah Sanchez for sharing their work and ideas and enthusiasms. Pillowcases become shirts, skirts, dresses... old sweaters become bags and doll clothes and crazy new shirts... it's magic.
We are starting a new thing on our website: Artist talks and portfolios...
The artists in The Works-in-Progress collective all have their own things going on, and lots of it it pretty interesting and connected to why we do things together. Also, we don't always know how cool our friends/colleagues/partners are until we see an overview of their work... so we are starting with Leah Sanchez, my co-founder of Works-in-Progress.
Leah Sanchez had a rich life in the Philippines prior to immigrating to Canada in 2016, including running a resort, working as an architect and in 2010, she and her friend Binggoy started an up-cycled furniture company in Manila in response to the mountains of garbage created by super Typhoon Megi. Watch and get inspired! And then check out their website: https://resurrectionfurniture.ph/resurrectionfurniture.ph/
This is the Resurrection manifesto. I love it. the website is filled with poetry as well as objects to inspire:
Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery is an atypical atelier that produces unique pieces of furniture and works of art that use everyday found objects as their main components. It prides itself in being able to bring "dead" objects back to life by breathing into them witty and quirky designs.
We see dead objects.
We revive them.
We are Resurrection.
We had a brainstorming session last week with some creative Works-in-Progress artists. All of us use sewing machines but don't really know much beyond the basics so when we get together we always learn something, especially from experienced sewer Marnie Saskin. This time we had what Marnie called "an old lady talk" about needles (what kind you need, signs you may need a new one) and why to invest in a walking foot. It's a lot of useful info so I posted it to our useful info page as well as here.
AlsoPatch Pockets! We are trying to alternate between specific projects and more broadly applicable techniques of repair and textile techniques and technologies, with some fun things thrown in. So this was a specific skill with, as always, broader implications. We had a big discussion about lack of pockets on women's clothes tied into restricting mobility...
This workshop was lead by one of our more experienced fashion designers and also one of our youngest artists, Gabrie Mills. You can see label Futuristic Ruins on her instagram site @futuristicruins
Main takeaway? Iron! measure! measure again! cut and iron and iron some more. Really really. Also, harvest pockets from clothes and sweaters, or try a doily as a pocket! And make sure your pocket is big enough to fit your phone...
We had great new participants, Kate and Olive, and everyone messed up at some point but I came out with a pocket on my skirt and could go for a walk backpack free and still bring keys and phone so mission accomplished.
CHECK out the video from the workshop below.
So back when we were doing the "Do it Together" Workshops - a very different time: in person workshops in the physically cold but warm to the soul space known as the Moss Park Market- one of the regular participants was this good human pictured above, Cairine. You can see unmasked photos of the workshops in previous blogs, like this one.
Cairine dove into making things full tilt, creating sachets ( a workshop lead by the series founder, Building Root's farmer and visionary, Kate Hamilton (you can read her blog here) and denim bags and all the things. And this Spring, once it reopened, she began volunteering in a very different time and place, the Building Roots community garden at Ashbridges estate. Also filled with warm humans, but in a hot space, needing masks... so she made masks. and then these great cooling neck ties. So we met up at the farm and brought her some more material from our stash and took some video (these are stills) and will make it into a thing but for now there are these.
Humans are awesome. And sometimes good things breed more good things. We love our partnership with Building Roots and all the humans we have met through it. More to come.
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
art experiments turning waste into beauty