What is craft?

7 October 2014

This year I tried something new. Instead of panicking in October and missing the farm staff party AND hallowe’en to make holiday stock, I hired friends to help me make 250 bicycle bells in September.

We put in 4 five hour shifts as a team – I cut out backgrounds and traced the bodies of cats and birds. We disassembled and primed bells and glued down images with outdoor Mod Podge. As we worked through a lot of what might be considered menial tasks if done alone, I reflected on the nature of craft. Craft asks that you are conscious of how each step is done. Craft would hate for you to push a button and lose out on all that juicy “process”. Urban Outfitters can never produce authentic craft, only knock offs. I had great conversations that got infused into the bells – the expressions of the cats, the placements of the birds.

It brought to mind Polish church ladies pinching perogies and gossiping around a giant steaming pot. There’s knitting circles, clothing swaps, and helping friends fix their bicycle on a perfect sunny afternoon. Canning with friends, brunch at home, food made with love…it’s so nice to spend time with people who inspire you and keep you motivated! And shouldn’t that be what life is about?

Folk art is defined on Wikipedia as art that: expresses cultural identity by conveying shared community values and aesthetics. It encompasses a range of utilitarian and decorative media… I love the idea of being surrounded by friends while cooking, making, gardening, fixing, and dreaming. That’s what “community” means to me, and it’s non-negotiable in my craft practice. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting lost in my own little world as I sketch out ideas and flip through books of adorable cats and sweet birds! But I need the balance of input and I don’t like getting it from keyword searches alone.

On my own over the last couple of weeks I’ve applied resin and re-assembled the bells. I’m so happy with how they’ve turned out, and they’re being shipped out to the boutiques listed in the sidebar as quickly as I polish them up. It seems as soon as I’ve sent one off, another request rolls in.

I’ve booked a few shows in November, Handmade Harvest on the 9th in Almonte (swag bags to first 50!), Sandy Hill’s One and Only (free buffet!) on the 16th in Ottawa, Fat Goose on the 23rd in Kingston (new earlier time this year!), and a brand new crafty pop-up in Kingston called Labyrinth, opening mid-October in the old Minotaur location.  Check in next month as I announce December shows. See you soon!

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Organizing the studio

14 August 2014

Summer – flashing by so quickly. And soon it will be time to start thinking about getting back to crafting.  From June through October I work on an organic CSA farm near Kingston and devote most of my headspace to the harvest and canning of vegetables.  This year, I have put away three types of… Read more >

What’s your favourite event of the year?

12 May 2014

Mine is coming up soon, May 24th-25th – the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. The weekend is shared in true community style. Dance parties with random new friends can be discovered while doubling on bicycles, “safe space” is celebrated, and perspective is refreshingly….radical. People here are all about doing it themselves, direct action, and being willing to… Read more >

Designing for an audience // the value of art

9 April 2014

Laurel and I had such a good time collaborating on workshops for the past few weeks. I asked her if she’d like to write a guest post for my website to describe her experience, and now I’d like to share it with you! **************** From Laurel: For the past 3 weeks I have been working… Read more >

Bringing art into schools!

10 March 2014

After leading workshops for years with what I thought was a foolproof formula:  teach myself via books, internet, skill-shares, then offer an activity interspersed with fun facts to a self-motivated group of students,  I had a block last year when planning a class with no obvious hands-on skill to plug into.  Plus, I wanted to… Read more >

New studio, new perspective!

5 February 2014

In October 2013, my whole street was being undergoing sewer replacement surgery, and I’d already been through a maddening year of pulsing jackhammers, limestone dust, and exhaust fumes emanating through our walls from the inner transformation of the old bank building on the corner. I found myself focusing far too much energy interacting with the… Read more >

Packaging for my DIY Bike Bell!

19 November 2013

If you look closely, you’ll notice a few changes in my bike bells. The big improvement is a metal thumb lever (brrrring!) thanks to my new wholesale supplier, and the packaging that I’m proud to say I finished designing just in time for craft fair season.  The challenge was to find a container that was… Read more >

Seasonal rhythms:

11 September 2013

Here’s a little glimpse into how fun (and productive!) food preserving and harvest can be.  This also happens to be a part of my seasonal rhythms.  October through December, I make art non-stop, full time, stocking boutiques and going to craft fairs.  In January and February I rest and review my year, thinking of what… Read more >

What did I get up to this winter? Made some screens for local DIY projects!

15 June 2013

Jolene Simko from Hearthmakers Energy Co-operative came by to refine her screenprinting skills in a special add-on class ($30!) that went along with the screen special ($30!)  For her shirts, we used a second print of dark green on the house , it was an easy “cheat” for small scale prints: the registration was accomplished… Read more >

Do you know what this is called?

23 February 2013

Or more importantly, do you know what this is? If you didn’t grow up in the 70’s or don’t currently have a record collecting habit, you may not know that these little pieces of plastic are pressed into the space in the centre of 45 RPM vinyl records.  I never knew what they were actually… Read more >

Ottawa craft shows (and deals)!

15 February 2013

The Workshop Boutique sells my bicycle bells and always has fresh work by Canadian designers, Oh, and for Feb. 15th only, we’re giving one lucky person a FREE bell. Use this link to the blog post where you can enter using an embedded online raffle widget. If you don’t mind paying for shipping, you can… Read more >

What do you do with your unwanted clothes?

25 January 2013

“Globally, we trash roughly 2 billion pounds of clothing and textiles a year. The textile industry has hooked us so completely on the accelerated fashion cycle that we feel we find ourselves with more and more stuff and few options for ethically discarding it.” Thrift stores are the most common solution to our unwanted clothing… Read more >

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