Thursday, January 26, 2012

Comminity Threads Week 28

It's been a while since I've been back to visit the Nottawasaga Handweavers and Spinners at the Gibson Centre in Alliston and it was nice to see some familiar faces as well as some new ones. Above, a newcomer to the guild: Jackie Teunissen. She's lived the last many years in Geneva, and moved to Caledon a couple of years ago. She's enjoying the tapestry weaving process and looking forward to continuing in participating with the guild's activities. The tapestries are progressing wonderfully. Some of the people that have been weaving on them regularly include Valerie and Elizabeth, who have really dedicated their time and efforts to producing their tapestry banners. They are feeling confident to make changes to the tapestries, both editing out the composition, and changing colours, as they think is appropriate. I applaud that they are taking artistic license. They have even decided that they will make some new paintings, of historic properties in the municipality to include in the tapestry banners, and therefore eliminating images that are duplicated in the some of the tapestries. Excellent and all the while, expanding their knowledge of the history of the muncipality. Sandi had some good stories about the churches in the area and we'll have to post this to the blog because it's intriguing. Their pride of place is coming through as they all work on this project, which they in turn put into the project.

Another new face at the guild is Deb Chandler. She's giving tapestry weaving a try on the 'learners' tapestry loom before moving onto the the large gobelin loom.

Jean and Valerie were back this week working on the finishing of the first completely woven tapestry banner. We'll have to start giving some thought as to what title we want to give each tapestry. Linda and Sandi discussed what new pictures needed to be taken, and then transformed into paintings. Linda felt so confident in their newly acquired artistic skills that she didn't feel she needed me to help them do the paintings! Linda reports that visitors to the weaving studio are frequent, which also means that this encourages traffic at the Gibson Centre. Linda and Sandi also talked about bringing some of the portable tapestry looms to the community libraries, and to the mall in Tottenham to promote the project, the Gibson Centre, and the Nottawasaga Handweavers and Spinners in the months to come. They will be giving a special presentation the Alliston Historical Society March 14.

I'll be visiting the project about once a month for the next year to help out, see what developments there are, and give advice when needed. The group are doing a great job! Don't hesitate to stop by and weave on the Community tapestries...everyone's contribution is welcome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The president of the Nottawasaga Handweavers and Spinners, Linda Needles, wrote to me recently to update me on the progress of the Community Threads tapestries in Alliston. I'm including what she wrote below. I've also attached the latest tapestries to be completed by assorted members in the group. I'm very proud of them for having the courage to undertake such an ambitious project AND following through with it. What dedication and perserverance, qualities that all weavers and spinners and possess in abundance!

Linda writes: “After receiving the “Artist in the Community” grant from the Ontario Arts Council in the Spring of 2011, Line got us into high gear to begin our “Community Threads” project. This was a project with a timeline of 2 years and, with her enthusiasm and energetic approach to begin the project, we all thought, “My Goodness, what have we gotten our guild into”?
We photographed local sites, painted pictures, made cartoons, sorted wool, gathered looms and began. Newbies we were but oh, what Line helped us learn.

Well 6 months have passed and our fears have been dissipated and our enthusiasm engaged because, we are well on the way.

We’ve come a long way from July, when we began by taking photos of the New Tecumseth area, of activities and places of interest. These photos have now been realized in the paintings and cartoons and are coming to life in the few sections of the tapestries that have been finished.

Elisabeth and Libby are working on one loom (a Penelope), having taken it home Dec 1 and now have finished 2 sections of one tapestry - a golfer and a guitar player.

Valerie also took home a Penelope loom and finished four sections to complete a whole tapestry. Yay, only 11 more to go!

The large Gobelin loom at the Gibson Centre is busy each Thursday during our open studio day. Ann has been working on one of the tapestries and has 1 ½ sections complete. Corrie, Nellie and Linda have been working on the other one and are starting the second section. Nellie, our senior member wants to work on some tapestries at home so she bought herself a new Kromski harp loom to work on during the winter.

Other members gather each week to weave on the tapestry looms and floor looms, to spin, sort wool colours, plan new projects and provide encouragement to all as we move forward with the Community Threads. Our turnout is usually about 12 people, considerably increased from 6 months ago.

This project has generated a lot of excitement and curiosity in the community and consequently has brought in many visitors to our studio, many of whom are directed there by the Gibson Centre staff who are great promoters of the project. In addition, as a result of this project, we have gained a few new guild members who are willing to try their hand on our sampler loom. Recently the Canadian Tapestry Network Newsletter featured the project with lots of pictures and a lengthy article. An article was also written up for the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners Fibre Focus.

We hope to engage more community members and start to make presentations to community groups as well as demonstrate in public places to share our enthusiasm with others.