Tag Archives: mixed media art

Artist’s Quandry

Image 9Having to dig out my cash box from under a layer of renovation dust in preparation for tomorrow’s MORE THAN JUST a BOOK SALE at Brescia College sort of gave me pause. I don’t like promoting consumerism. But normally the upshot of being an artist is that you want will to show your work to others. And sometimes those people will want to own your work for themselves. (In the olden days they were called patrons.)

Mostly I sequester my art to my little corner of the internet called Wavesong. I create what makes me happy, take photos, post and sometimes it appeals to someone who happens to find it in the huge Googly world.

Quietly I throw things up to see who catches them. A little ring holder was mailed to South Korea, a framed fibre art piece to USA, a basket to Australia, a tote to Boston, a chair pad to Newfoundland a set of fibre art pictures was purchased by a CBS set decorator.

In preparation for the first craft/artisan market I have done in a decade I have been unabashedly flogging Facebook with my wares.

As a sorry Canadian, I apologize for blowing my own horn, for telling the world about myself, for wanting you to see what I do in the recesses of my studio. I can’t help but create.


Award Winning, “Over-The-Shoulder-Boulder-Holder”


wrapped stone


“The Mending Way”

I do admit that I for the most part like creating useful things. Perhaps it is my Protestant work ethic showing its pretty little face or my mother’s voice saying ‘it’s lovely honey, but what’s it for?”

Image 12

Chakra Vessel Set or Montessori Sorting BowlsImage 5

Like any artist I could just keep it until my house overflows or give it all away but I desire to be fairly compensated for my work. The fact is that most of us do consume and like to be surrounded by pretty things, hopefully ones that have some meaning. I know that people will buy things anyways. I would rather that they spend their money supporting local artists rather than multi-national companies who barely pay a living wage.*

I often wonder if the greats, like Monet, Michelangelo, Tom Thomson (not that I am anywhere close to being in that classification!) struggled with creating versus promoting. Did they have to pull out their cash boxes?

*If you want to buy fairly traded goods try online shopping at Ten Thousand Villages.

Odia’s Forgiveness Offering

Today I crocheted.


Three little vessels.


And I’m mailing them to Odia Reimer in Manitoba.

In 1984 Odia’s 13 year old sister, Candace Derksen, was murdered when Odia was only nine years old. Read her story. This is a famous Canadian murder case.

And it has been recently re-opened.

Odia Reimer is a Canadian installation artist, sculptor, photographer. I have witnessed Odia’s work at one of the most beautiful small town galleries I’ve ever visited, Gallery in the Park in Altona, Manitoba.

In the same way that Odia has dealt with her sister’s murder, the grief and the trial, she is dealing with this new twist in her family’s history, with her art.

Seventy times Seven represents the inward journey through emotion. It is 490 crocheted tears suspended from a frame, 7 X 7, hung 7 feet off the floor, to create a perfect cube symbolic of the natural attempt to contain the pain. Each tear is crocheted by hand without any pattern making each one unique, a reflection of the moment of its creation. The color white symbolizes the purity and simplicity of the falling of a tear. The tears also portray an understanding of the answer to Peter’s question… “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who has sinned against me? Seven times?” Christ’s answer was seventy times seven, 490 times. This is one day.

Seventy times Seven represents the inward journey through emotion. It is 490 crocheted tears suspended from a frame, 7 X 7, hung 7 feet off the floor, to create a perfect cube symbolic of the natural attempt to contain the pain. Each tear is crocheted by hand without any pattern making each one unique, a reflection of the moment of its creation. The color white symbolizes the purity and simplicity of the falling of a tear. The tears also portray an understanding of the answer to Peter’s question… “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who has sinned against me? Seven times?” Christ’s answer was seventy times seven, 490 times. This is one day.

Her latest project is called “The Offering“.

The Offering, Odia Reimer

The Offering, Odia Reimer

Here’s how she describes it….

Nov, 2013. As some of you know my family and I have been going through a trial. Literally and figuratively, we have just heard that the perpetrator who has been accused of murdering my sister almost 30 years ago might be getting a re-trial. …These recent developments have stirred up old emotions and has brought me to places where I again have to look at forgiveness and loving my enemies to heal from wounds these events have inflicted and continue to inflict.

I have also realized that many individuals that I have shared my story with, have similar elements of pain. I would like to invite you to join me in taking the pain of hurt, anger, and bitterness of whatever you have been through and offer it as a sacrifice in a step of overcoming, releasing, and turning your face towards forgiveness.

“The Offering” is a community art piece, a physical act of taking our hurt sometimes blood, tears or pain and giving it as an offering, I believe this act of giving away our hurt releases our need to hold onto the pain we feel and opens us up to receive the healing and wholeness we are searching for.

After reading Odia’s blog I wanted to participate.

Something drew me to create these little bowls and offer them to her. Not so much due to my own pain, which in no way mirrors hers. But to participate in a corporate sacrificial offering of forgiveness.


I used a combination of threads in earth tones, representing community. One has some bronze metallic representing the unfulfilled life of a murdered teen girl. The little red dots represent blood.


Odia has created a marvellous tutorial. So even if you have never crocheted you can certainly learn.

Here are the written instructions. Download.

Feel free to use any colour, texture, or weight of wool you wish. Use colour and texture as a way of expressing the pain and hurt your bowl represents.


Why not join in? You have until Feb 28th, 2014.

But Will It Hold Water

For about a year I’ve been on a little journey which began when I picked up a brochure (can’t even recall where I got it), a call for entry for Threadworks: A Juried Exhibition of Needle Arts. This is an exhibition, organized every three years by the Ontario Network of Needleworkers’ (ONN) an amazing group of dedicated people, mostly women. Their mandate is to raise the profile of needlework to the general public.

The 2013 theme “Water” really excited me. Selection into the show would be made on the basis of interpretation of the theme (I always focus better if I work around a theme.)  A substantial part of the piece had to be made with a threaded needle and of original design. No kits here baby!

The theme of water is a timely one. Fresh water is our greatest natural resource. We are losing control and access to it, drop by drop. I believe the right to safe, clean drinking water is a human right. We are nearing the end of the United Nations International Decade For Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015.  Its’ resolution states:

“The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights”. Comment No. 15 also defined the right to water as the right of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 10.57.50 AM

Water Quality

This really strong connection to clean water comes from my chemist father, W. M. Ward, who began the first public health laboratory in Manitoba in 1942. He chaired the Federal-Provincial Working Group on Drinking Water, the body who published the standards for Canadian drinking water quality in 1978. These are still in use today.

I have a compelling desire to be close to a large body of water on a regular basis. I need to hear the waves (no doubt this is why I named my Etsy store, WaveSong.) I grew up on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. It is the 10th largest fresh water lake in the world and the most eutrophied (that’s bad). It’s struggling to balance too much agricultural run-off, with excess nutrients and pesticides, and sewage discharge which causes toxic algae.*

For the last year I’ve had this idea of water and needlework sloshing around in my brain while the Threadworks Call For Entry sat on my desk. My intention was to make my entry in the summer. Last summer came and went. I totally forgot about the brochure. I actually didn’t even think about it again until this March when visiting our wonderful little local art gallery, Gallery in the Grove. Strewn on the entrance table were some Artist’s Call For Entry brochures from various Canadian galleries. Oh yah, now I remember! When I got home, I excavated the brochure from the pile on my desk. My brain woke up and my journey went into high speed. I had just over three weeks to get a piece from conception (but I did already have a small drop of an idea percolating) to completion. I looked at my calendar… not much booked. It was doable.


1960’s Lake Erie Chart

My basic idea was a coiled basket, a vessel, sort of a rag basket, but made from paper, particularly nautical charts or maps of the Great Lakes Erie, Huron and Ontario, recycled from my deceased uncle’s sailboat.

When it comes to my artwork, I’m a bit obsessed with recycling. Maybe it’s just because I’m super cheap when it comes to supplies. Or because, as my son calls me, I’m a ‘functional hoarder’. I scoop up thread, paper, old maps, rope, fabric, clothes, mostly all from yard sales and thrift shops. I don’t necessarily have a specific project in mind when buying. Everything gets added to my magpie stash. Any good artist needs a stash.

Actually containers are one of my favourite things. And maps. And I loved the idea of a vessel for this water-themed show. I’ve hand-stitched and machine-sewn lots of coiled baskets before. I had been experimenting with some techniques of sewing coiled baskets with paper instead of fabric.  After breaking numerous needles, what seemed to work was when I settled on one intended for sewing leather.

Sew….. I journeyed into constructing this vessel on my sewing machine.


Driving it for many hours I realized that the lake-like shape which I wanted to produce would be a bugger to fanangle on a machine. Unlike throwing a clay pot on a potter’s wheel, I couldn’t just go upwards equally on all sides which I normally do for most of my baskets. IMG_6870I wanted this one to look like a dried-up lake bed, a contour elevation map and a vessel all rolled into one!

The name for the piece sang out while I was  driving my machine…

“But Will It Hold Water”

Of course this is a play on words. When we have a new idea, “will it hold water?” is a term we use for “is it worthy, does it have merit?” There are holes in this basket. Would the vessel float? Our freshwater bodies, will they hold water? This convoluted idea of mine. My weird humour. Was it worth so much of my time? Yes, I needed to finish this journey.

The actually process of sewing is kind of fun, at the start. I’m visual and auditory. I like hearing the needle punch through the paper. But it’s really hard on the hands to wrap the paper tightly and maintain the angle of the work. And then, of course, the bobbin runs out at the most inopportune moment (enter expletive here….)  Stitching was a bitch and I nearly threw in the towel. But I had already put too much effort and time into the process to give up. Determined I was!IMG_6871

Gratefully, my artistic muse, who only lives a few doors down, dropped everything a scooted over. Her encouragement gave me the stamina to continue when my spirits were low, my hands were aching and I questioned why I was using one of the most difficult means of construction available to a needleworker.

Trust the process, I’ve been taught.


The piece morphed from an oval mat shape to a dried lake bed, 3D contour map to a wave-like pieces splashing around one end. In the end it really was a process. I was thrilled with the outcome. It was an idea which seemed to work. But would anybody else ‘get it’, most importantly the jurors? What artist doesn’t struggle with that need to translate one’s ideas into matter? The alchemy of spinning straw into gold.IMG_0383


And then I had to construct the shipping box. This is another story completely! If it got accepted into the show it also had the possibility of being chosen for the 3 year travelling exhibit. There were strict guidelines to follow in the Call For Entry.  In order to protect the vessel I had to build a large shell of styrofoam (so totally un-environmentally sound that this incongruity did not get lost on me) surrounded by corrougated cardboard. Help came from my wanna-be engineer husband.


On delivery day we drove the three hours to Fergus, Ontario, a lovely town in Mennonite country. I had not entered a juried art show in awhile. “What did I have to lose?” I kept telling myself. A small entry fee, a beautiful spring day outing with my daughter, and, oh ya, hours and hours hunched over the sewing machine! Over 150 entries to be juried and they would only accept about 50. I was a little nervous. I felt like I was leaving my baby at the doctor’s office. I would’t hear for a few days whether my effort would be recognized as the brilliant piece it was. : )


Well this morning in my ‘Inbox’ was the correspondence an artist lives for, recognition from your colleagues that you were on the right track. “But Will It Hold Water” was accepted into Threadworks 2103 and I also won a Juror’s Choice Award (happy dance)!! They did ‘get it’ and my message about fresh water is going to a wider audience to make viewers ponder.

Threadworks is a special project of ONN in association with Wellington County Museum and Archives. The inaugural exhibition is mounted there, then will travel to museums and galleries across Ontario.

If you would like to see my piece (which looks much more impressive in person, it’s very hard to photograph) I am inviting you to see this spectacular collection of needlework any time from April 20 until June 9, 2013 or join me at the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony:  April 28, 2:00 to 4:00 pm, Wellington County Museum and Archives, Fergus, ON. (Stayed tuned for the obligatory award ceremony photos and the itinerary of the travelling exhibit. It may be on it’s way to a location near you.)

I thought my little journey was about to end. It just took a three year detour!

2013 Threadworks Poster

update: April 28, 2013 See Awards Ceremony post.

* To support the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, doing research on this terrible problem, please click here.

Round and Round go the Connections

ring basket
What I love about selling my artwork on line is the connecting that happens. This is a traditional coiled basket but with a shard of beach glass attached. Today I’m sending this teeny ring holder coiled basket to South Korea. A woman there bought it to add to the nature table she is creating for her children. That makes me happy. To be part of someone’s earth altar. She’s American and has Norwegian roots. It reminds her of the tiny baskets her Norwegian grandmother wove from roots when she was a child.

I have been to Norway too! And I have woven baskets from roots. After reading her blog, I see that we have a lot in common, yet we found each other through cyberspace. And thanks to CanadaPost we will forever be connected in this real web of fibre art.

Read Sarah’s blog and see her amazing handwork.