On the day I know I'm coming to the Gibson Centre for Community, Art and Culture in Alliston to work with the members of the Nottawasaga Handweavers and Spinners I'm always really excited. Today was no exception. I can't believe my good fortune at being able to collaborate with weavers on creating a set of woven wallhangings....more specifically 12 tapestries. I've been given the very fancy title of 'Artistic Director'. I imagine a conductor of an orchestra must feel the way I'm feeling, but in my case, I conduct a symphony of colours, shapes, textures, and human activity to make it all come together as a great 'arrangement'. What is a conductor though without each instrument and a person behind the instrument. Wouldn't be an orchestra at all! And so, today, it was estimated that 16 guild members showed up to contribute in some way, shape or form for various amounts of times and for various activites.
We had other visitors too. Linda Needles happens to be on the Committee for the Digital Mammography Campaign and they are preparing a float that will be in the parade for the Potatoe Festival the August 6 and 7 weekend. Carolyn Maxwell, Marg Barber, and Marilyn Holmstrom who were also working on the float, came by to have a look at the Community Threads project and activities. Goes to show that you never know who you'll meet while on this project!
One of the main tasks today was to create the enlarged version of the tapestry designs (some shown above this picture). We did this using an overhead projector - yes there are still some around!), markers and large sheets of paper. Valerie, Allanah and Chris took responsibility for this activity. We managed to get 2 done today and there are 10 to go. We may have them done at the printer's because at the very end of today's activities, the bulb broke and they are expensive to replace.
The other major activity was dressing the looms. Here Betty and Nathalia are working on this Penelope, a smaller portable loom that the guild members will be taking around to have different groups of people weave on.
Mattie is pre-sleying the reed for the gobelin loom while Flo is supervising! Flo sorted more yarn for us and put them into their correct colour box.
I joked with Gayle that all the pictures I had with her, we could only see her head. Her response was that that was because she was working so hard! And its true....she was! She did a lot of pre sleying the reed and then they had to do it over again because we didn't get the placement of the warps figured out right the first time.
I'm always touched that people want to share their stories. Today, Janet Fayle explained to me that in 1947 her parents bought a farm in this area. Janet and her husband used to come only on the weekends but now live on the property for the last decade or more. I believe it is also a bed and breakfast. You'll have to give me the name of it Janet! Janet and her husband were or are building 'archeologists' and into the heritage of buildings. Janet also has a daughter that is an 'intuitive counselor' that lives in the Gatineau area, Eiza Fayle. Eliza likes to help woman adjust to the ageing process in a way that honours who they are. The main message I picked up from our conversation is how we can continually re-invent ourselves, and that is very clear as she talks about two of her now adult children.
I guess the other message is be careful what you tell me because it might end up here!
From left to right, Sandi Nemenyi, now the President of the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners, Nellie, and Libby. They dressed this portable loom, which belongs to Libby who is lending it to the guild until the project is completed. We've never seen this kind of loom before and have no idea what kind it is, but it's pretty neat! Sandi also brought in a catalogue published about the Leeds wallhangings, the project that inspired Sandi to undertake this endeavour.
Above, Elisabeth Bishoff wound more skeins into balls and helped anyone else who needed helping.
I'm enjoying working with weavers and how fortunate I feel to assist them in this project. I'm used to working slowly, methodically on my own creative endeavours. I'm used to the solitariness of my weaving activities, but how much more one can accomplish as a group, and how much more fun it is to be with others and a part of a large creative undertaking. For what is life really but our being present to the moment and to each other, our interactions igniting our enthusiasm and weaving us together into a conhesive whole. However, it is also significant because it makes reference to how tapestries were woven centuries ago, and in some places, still, for instance Australia, France, Scotland and England. Often there are many weavers that weave on one tapestry. At some points in tapestry history, weavers created the designs. Then it became fashionable to have artists create the designs for the tapestries. Today, both practices are still usual.
I love being able to help people who think they are not artistic to tap into their creativity. I love to help people empower their inner artist. It can only happen though if they are willing to open themselves to the experience. I love to get people and especially weavers and spinners excited about weaving, and help them to discovere more and more possibilities. With a little encouragement, a little willingness, a little guidance, and the right environment, you can do almost anything! See you next week!
This project is generously funded by the