Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mississauga Handweavers and Spinners

Carole Neely
Carole Neely from the Mississauga Handweavers and Spinners rallied members to weave shapes for the Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination/le sort, le destin et l'auto determination tapestry project. What a surprise to receive a dozen a half shapes in the mail.
Carole Neely
When you look up the meaning of guild and its historical evolving role, I couldn't help but notice that guilds have always been associated with learning and education, of handing down time honoured practices, of a respect for the tools and materials be worked. This is certainly what weaving guilds continue to do - provide a fraternity of a sort, focused on the practice of weaving and spinning, and now sometimes also felting, knitting etc... For more interesting information about guilds go to
Cheryl Seaton
Guilds also at one time became very powerful and wealthy but then suffered a decline because they were not responsive to changing times and needs, in particular, they seemed to impede capitalism. Reading books by Ross King such as Brunelleschi's Dome, gives one great insight on how significant a role these guilds played. 
Cheryl Seaton
In this book, silk merchants, became very powerful and wealthy in Florence for instance and literally shaped the appearance of the city by overseeing its architecture, and art such as sculpture.
Cheryl Seaton
Guilds and the system they had in place for training and creating masters at their respective craft, brings to mind also manufacturing to some degree. It is with tapestry  that manufacturing was first coined as a term to produce a quantity of similar products. It started with the Manufacture des Gobelins, situated in Paris on 42 rue des Gobelins. Guided visits are at 1pm at last check in, when after reading on the website that visits were at 2pm and arrived too late! I was very disappointed. Here is more about the museum and site: To learn more about the history of  manufacture Gobelins go to

Cheryl Seaton

Gobelin started creating tapestries in 1602. Prior to that they were a dye house and this is how they built up their assets and wealth. Their main competitors were Aubusson and Beauvais, especially in the 17th and 18th century.
Heather Lawrie
To some extent it does feel like this tapestry project is being 'manufactured' because I give it over to others to accomplish the work and weaving on so much of it. It differs in that the manufacturing is not happening in one locations, but in many locations all over the world. Social media and technology is transforming many of work situations, and artists and craftspeople are not excluded from this transformation. I can see it now.....I'll be able to print a tapestry with a 3d printer......
Marion Matson
Thanks to the Mississauga Handweavers and Spinners for the immense contribution to the project.
Susan Smart

Susan Smart

Kathleen McDonald

Kathleen McDonald

Kathleen McDonald....this one looked like it was done with handspun!

Louise Fulton

Louise Fulton

 Learn more about this guild -

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thomas Cronenberg

Thomas Cronenberg sumbitted these four shapes for the international tapestry project: Fate, Destiny and Self Determination/le sort, le destin et l'auto-determination. Thomas wrote: 
I've woven a T within a non-square shape; it seemed more appropriate to the feeling of the project. I like the way the shapes look like shards, or fragments. This T could read a T, or perhaps an arrow or other character. There is something slightly enigmatic that I like about the approach.

When I was a little girl, I remember I had to sing the song Que sera, sera for a concert. It was a song that Doris Day sang in the 1950s and made popular. Essentially it said that we are unable to predict the outcomes in our lives and that our fate/destiny is not entirely knowable, predictable or controllable. Somehow, the future is obscured and vague and ambiguous. For some this is comfortable. For others it causes great uneasiness. Regardless, when faced with our own hopes, dreams and aspirations it can certainly be baffling, bewildering, confusing, perplexing and puzzling. Often I feel I am just groping my way through, as though blind....and taking it day by day, feeling and thinking my way through life, with my goals shaping the actions I take and the words I speak. 

I've always like that sense of mystery of not knowing for in that state, there is the opportunity of exploring, of venturing out into the world, of finding out, the unfolding of a life, which may or may not be exactly as one had anticipated.
To see more of his work go to : and

To see the entire Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination page on Facebook go to the link below. While you are there, like the page:

Cite de la Tapisserie - Aubusson newsletter

Call for Entry:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Solitary and Social practice

Ellen Allas at the loom in Peru with Puchka Tours and the Maximo Laura workshop/studio.
Tapestry weaving is usually considered a solitary practice, In part this is what can draw people into tapestry weaving.  I've read some great books about solitude and it's very much connected to the process of creativity. In solitude, we have time to connect to our own thoughts and feelings, our own ideas. Through solidtude, we reflect on other things going on in our lives and to find meaning in it all. From the chaos created from the tangled threads of thoughts, emotions, relationships and life situations, we can find some order in these moments of solitude. 
Corrie Parsons with her recently finished panel for the Community Threads tapestries
What has been great about the Community Threads tapestry project in Alliston and the ongoing Fate, Destiny and Self Determination international tapestry project is that it has introduced a social element into the process. The weaving classes themselves are also a vehicle for sociability in weaving. People making new connections, new friendships, and of course learning all at the same time. 
Agota Dolinay shown here helping with finishing of section one of the international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self Determination/le sort, le destin et l'auto-determination. Bambi Rutledge also came in today to help get this part of the process underway. 
Overall I think most of us seek some balance between the two...times of solitude, times of sociability - neither of which we would appreciate if we didn't have both. 
At the Opera, by Bambi Rutledge
Christine Shipley wrote: The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation. -Ezra Pound, poet (1885-1972) Perhaps I would add to that solitude as well for without it, it is more challenging to be creative. By receiving the Ontario Arts Council grants for the two tapestry projects, it has certainly enabled me as an artist to follow my larger creative urges.
Emmanuelle Holmes, Australia

Sidsel Moreb, USA (Florida)

Janis Hunter, Australia. 
Christine Shipley created this shape with handspun merino/bamboo and hand dyed yarn. Christine teaches weaving in Scarborough Ontario through the Parks and Recreation at Cedar Ridge as well as at the Markham Guild of Weavers and Spinners. 
"When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude."

— The Prelude by Wordsworth
 102 shapes from 21 different countries have been received to date and more are on their way. 

Dorothy Clews shared this link on Facebook about how one woman created a tapestry warp:

Susan Middleton sends along this link to a video featuring Peter Harris talking about his work:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

101st shape received

Sidsel Moreb from Florida USA submitted some of these photos of her process. One of her tapestries is featured here: and you can friend her on Facebook:

Emmanuelle Holmes from Australia send two shapes. Her family is focused on this endeavour: and you can find her on Facebook

This gem arrived from Australia. Janis Hunter wove it. Janis didn't send me any other information about her tapestry weaving endeavours unfortunately. 

Woven by Juana Sleizer, Toronto Canada.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ode to Tapestry

We're on the last few inches of the public section of the international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination/le sort, le destin et l'auto-determination. This week a number of people put in time to bring this section of the tapestry installation to completion (weaving-wise). After her visit on this day, Bambi Rutledge wrote me and said:
         Thank you for today’s visit and work and opportunity to see other weavers’ work! I liked the large Navaho-looking tapestry located towards the back of the main room -  so crisp and clean!* And I liked the small English post-card weaving of seaside shelters**. I love feeling the yarns and thinking about the process from critter to product and how ancient it all is!         I appreciated the tasty treats too ….It was odd somehow hearing the discussion about Out of the Cold…I know Sr Susan Moran, OLM, who started the program with the students at St Michael’s College School and she is still a go-getter. She works with refugees now and also with organizing housing for individuals (mostly women more recently) with mental health issues near Yonge and St Joseph Streets, closed to where I work. She received the Order of Canada a little while ago. (* This referred to Debbie Harris' Navajo rug she has been working on for awhile. Debbie is shown below on the right. ** here Bambi is referring to Christine Shipley's small tapestry series.)
Francois Seguin and Debbie Harris 
This tapestry project is playing out for me like a symphony. A symphony requires an orchestra. An orchestra, musicians. Each musician plays their part, without which, the symphony could not exist. Each person is playing the threads of this silent music. Together our creating of this tapestry is a beautiful and harmonious melody. Though the playing of an instrument is solitary, as often the weaving process is, everyone is playing their threads to create a rousing and vigourous arrangement, a celebratory ode to tapestry. This is fairly remarkable in a world that seems to praise and reward egotism and narcissism.
Jutta Polomski and Agota Dolinay
To see the shapes that have arrived to date go to the Facebook page for Line Dufour and on my home page click on the Fate Destiny and Self Determination page.
Kate Kitchen and Francois Seguin were the last two people to be weaving on the tapestry and brought this part of it to completion. The video link is attached below. 

Carla Duncan tied off the warp and cut off the tapestry. Now we are ready to do the finishing work on it. Any volunteers? Lunch is on me if you let me know when you can join me.

Back to the Community Threads tapestries, also funded by the Ontario Arts Council - Linda Needles wrote to tell me that the weaving of the last two panels on the gobelin loom is now complete:
from left to right: Lynda Mitchell Reynolds- executive director of the South Simcoe Arts Council, Valerie Splaine, Linda Needles, Sandi Nemenyi, Corrie Parsons and not sure who the last person is. 

As you may know, these tapestries were woven in Alliston Ontario, the hometown of Frederick Banting, one of the inventors of insulin. You can visit the Banting Homestead when you are in the area. In his spare time, Banting painted and recently one of his canvases, French River,  went up for sale. To read more about the story go to

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Season of Giving

Mai-Liis Toome and Ellan Allas recently returned from Peru after taking a tapestry workshop with Maximo Laura. 
We are not only blessed and fortunate  to  have the weaving class environment to come to, where joy and enthusiasm for weaving runs rampant, but we are also very fortunate to have the means and the time to weave. Some can also afford to go to far flung places to do so. Others can acquire expensive equipment. Most cannot, and even fewer can even make weaving their hobby. Not only is weaving an investment in terms of time, but also  financial. This week I am inspired not only by how generous and supportive people are at the Toronto Weaving School aka TDSB weaving classes....and their donations, without which we might not be here as life 'on the outside' of our weaving sanctuary gets leaner and meaner. I am inspired by how much people have donated their time to the international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination: le sort, le destin et l'auto-determination.  I am also  inspired by people's kindness, understanding, patience....and this generates only more of the same. This kindness and generosity manifests in other parts of people's lives....many in the class volunteering their time to charitable organizations such as and Out of the Cold,  initiatives for the homeless and marginalized...initiatives to help make the city a better place to live in (despite certain recent political events!). 

Enter a call for entry for small tapestry.... HGA's Small Expressions

Another call for entry for tapestry and fibre related work:
Agota Dolinay, recently returned from taking a workshop with Maximo Laura in Peru, returns to contribute to the intrnational tapestry. 

Share how you came to be a tapestry weaver and your tapestry journey with the American Tapestry Alliance at:
Susan Middleton and Deirdre Meyer
Susan has been helping with this project since the beginning, which was January 2013. She helped me set up the warp, a big task. She's been coming periodically to weave on the international tapestry project and after her recent visit she wrote:
Dear Line, It was a joy and privilege to work on the tapestry project yesterday. It seems like such a short time since setting up the mass of warp threads. It is wonderful to see them transformed into this vibrant piece by the many hands that have worked on it and by your vision and exciting mixing of colours. Many thanks for creating a wonderful environment where ideas can grow and be shared by all.
Bambi Rutledge from Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, took my classes over 10 years ago. The project inspired her to come and find us and tapestry weaving again!
 An inspiring story about why one woman 'makes':
Tapestry students from right to left: Susan Grimbly, Barbara Aikman, Diane Gillis, Caroline Castilloux, Gert Rogers.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


More helping hands for the international tapestry project: Lis Baston from our weaving class and Christine....who was visiting before she went off for her Reiki class. 
"Resistance is futile" I proclaimed (one of my favorite quotes from Star Trek ) as one of my weaving students said that she was 'socializing'! Why did I get it in my head that we should get so serious anyways? Must have been that teacher training I took at the University of Toronto that drilled me about what teaching is. There is a momentum in our weaving classes that is very energizing and keeps us all excited about weaving. The environment is more like a studio and less formal than the conventional course and this is how participants want it. They want the social component,  they want to interact together. Like many weaving groups, such as guilds, weavers are very helpful to others. They can never seem to do enough to help you out ...not just in weaving but what ever other challenges you might be facing. This kind of real human connection, where we feel unjudged, accepted and even embraced for who we are, is what makes our weaving classes a pleasure to be in. All of the participants contribute to making this a great place to be weaving together. What, you might ask, is my role in all this. Definitely not a traditional definition of teacher. Perhaps my role is more about making sure all that you need is there to make what you want to weave happen. My experience in weaving is also necessary in realizing the many projects people accomplish.
Aliona Karpov, who resides in Morrocco, sent me her picture and 4 woven shapes to contribute to the international tapestry project. It's wonderful how unique each person's contribution is. This brings our total up to 95 received shapes. 

And so,  I've learned while teaching the classes, that real connection with others comes in the physicality of doing, in materiality, in actions, interactions, processes and events shared by an assortment of individuals. Weaving is an appropriate metaphor for engagement and activity with others. Both can be described as a means of producing a coherent united whole or collaboration through the combining and interlacement of various elements. All these individuals are like threads  woven into a community fabric through this one shared activity a permanent reminder of our shared history and values. This was really driven home to me in my recent Community Threads tapestries project where everyone had skills, abilities and resources to contribute to making the project a successful one. It wasn't about one individual getting all the acclaim or having to do all the work. Great things can happen when we pull together, are cohesive and put aside our differences. 
Susan Middleton shared with me this handmade foamcore loom that she can carry easily in her bag and weave anywhere she goes, even while in transit! Thank you Susan for sharing this with those of us who are hopelessly addicted!

Here are some of our tapestry weaving students. Left to right: Marlene Stubbins, Jane Richmond, Jutta Polomski
It's that time of year again when classes are coming to an end and it's time to register for the Winter session. Classes re-commence January 13 and 15. Go to and register to learn tapestry. 

and more tapestry students.....Gert Rogers, Susan Grimbly and Diane Gillis. We still have at least another half dozen.....

Tapestry links and resources
Aubusson tapisserie in France:

Tapestry artist retreat in Bulgaria:
My name is Silvia Haralambova. I am a Bulgarian artist, living and working
in Pazardzhik, Bulgaria. Works of mine can be seen on the following web

My husband and I are running an Artists Retreat in the village Patalenitza,
Bulgaria. This is a place where we invite artists to live and work in a
tranquil rural site and to concentrate on their own artistic activities.
The retreat can accommodate up to 2 persons at one time, so artists can
come with a partner or a friend. The retreat is a non smoking area.

The price is 45 EUR per night for the whole retreat, including electricity,
water, linen, towels and full kitchenette. The retreat is open from 1-st of
May till 30 September. Application process is simple and via e-mail ? we
request some samples of works, CV and the desired dates.