Friday, August 31, 2007

getting help

i spent much of yesterday filling out a grant application . compared to many other provinces, newfoundland artists get good support from their provincial government. since i started as a professional artist in newfoundland over 20 years ago i've received a lot of support - from the arts council, the crafts council and directly from the government. i've received money for materials, for travel (to exhibitions, craft fairs and research). i've received money to help me set up my studio so that i can work more efficiently and open it up to customers and visitors.

like most artists who work at their craft full time, i live at the "poverty level" as far as income goes. but i do what i love and because of that, i've learned to live simply. without government grants it would be a whole lot harder.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


i grew up in toronto. as a young artist i roamed the streets looking for inspiration and experience. yorkville and the small art galleries of the '60's. but mostly i walked queen st. the antique and junk shops, the indian and chinese and portuguese fabric shops, the buttons stores. rarely would i buy anything (although right here by my computer i'm looking at a piece of tile that i bought at "serendipity" when i was 16. it's always been where i rest my coffee mug). in newfoundland, this kind of "looking without buying" or "window shopping" is called "twacking".
i live in a small community now, so these days i "twack" on ebay. at the end of a long day of hooking or sewing or knitting or painting, when i can't move my hands anymore and my brain has gone mush, i go to ebay and browse. i fall into the same mental space that i did when i was young and walking along queen st. i go from vintage cotton to art deco tea cups to bakelite brooches... my latest (and most extravagant) find was these suitcases - 1950's butterscotch coloured leather with satin lining. i bought them and they arrived 2 days ago. inside they smell of lavendar face powder. i'll use them for display and storage.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

final days of summer

i love summer. it's randomness. the comfort and ease of moving my body through the world. the colour. light and spare clothing. easy and raw meals. spending more time with friends and family. the unexpected.
i love autumn. the night closing in. flannel sheets and turning the fire on in the evening when you feel the first chill. the produce. raw carrots that cut like butter.
the new tv season. no guilt at spending all day inside working.
but i hate winter. in newfoundland it goes on and on and on.

Monday, August 27, 2007

screen door

my whole adult life i've wanted a wooden screen door and finally got one as a gift from keith this summer. it opens up my house. all summer long a breeze blows through. i especially love it when it rains and i stand at the door and feel part of what's happening outside. the squeek and slam of the door closing takes me back to childhood summer cottages on lake simcoe in ontario in the 50's.


yesterday afternoon - a warm wet one - we drove out along the north shore to mcciver's to see colette's organic farm and take in the first exhibition opening in her new artist residence studio (visiting artist from berlin sonya schonberger). colette is a brave woman and is well into the creation of her vision - a beautiful, healthy, creative and nuturing space that she wants to share with others. i love large visions.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


archie makes my boxes for me. every sunday for years he's been selling at the local flea market and i began buying mailboxes from him. since then we've worked together on designing boxes of all sizes, tisssue boxes, and most recently birdhouses. i love buying locally whenever i can.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


so much of my creative output is spent in filling orders - for galleries, craft shops, my own studio/shop. it's hard to set aside time to play with materials and develop new products. craft producers have so many new ideas - our sketchbooks and brains are full of them. it's hard to step away and give yourself permission. yesterday i set aside the morning and figured out an embellishment for my little handknit baby booties. i've had this in mind for over a year. i'm happy with the results of my little "rosebud" and excited that i have a way of adding another colour to the booties.

Friday, August 24, 2007


yesterday i finished the last of 16 mats for the toronto show and will send them off today. this is a project i've been working on since march so there's a real feeling of accomplishment. but it's also like finishing the last exam or essay - a mixture of relief and exhaustion and the uncommon state of not having to work to an immediate fixed deadline. so last night i read a bit and picked up some knitting (tried to figure out how to knit flowers to add to the baby hats and booties),and went to bed early. this morning the house gets cleaned and the studio sorted and i begin to make and accumulate product for the 2 craft fairs in november. last night was my "pause".

Thursday, August 23, 2007

what excites me

i draw inspiration from a lot of different places - friends and family, travel, my cabin, fashion tv, books, cruising ebay and magazines. this is my favourite magazine right now. brenda introduced me to it a couple of years ago. selvedge is a british magazine that celebrates fibre. expensive, so when brenda's subscription ran out last month, i took over. my first issue arrived yesterday. i treat it like i used to treat love letters...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

it's almost christmas

the end of august and it's almost christmas. anyone who is a full-time craft producer understands what i mean. christmas craft fairs bring in up to half of our annual revenue. at this point we're looking at 2 months of incredibly intense production. to make money you need product to sell. there's always the fear of not having enough.

Monday, August 20, 2007

war and peace

robyn (and the children) and i visited barb's summer studio this afternoon. she's been renting one of the large studio's at the university but will have to leave in a couple of weeks when the students come back. barb's recent work is all about war and for the past few years she has been working with camouflage. it was a powerful experience seeing how the work is evolving. afterwards we all came back to my studio to look at my summer's work before i send it off - a striking contrast.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

i wonder where the week has gone.

i've spent all week painting. when i have no specific deadlines, i like to go from process to process - painting to hooking to sewing. i put in long hours each day so it's good for my mind and body to "mix it up". i can hook and do some hand sewing outside and love sitting out in the garden as i work. i'm putting a push on now to finish the work for the fog forest show (hooked mats and painted objects) so i've been at my painting table from early morning to well into the evening. my body suffers when i do this. stiffness and alot of tension in my neck. i look up and wonder where the week has gone.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

it seemed like a holiday

it seemed like a holiday. yesterday barb and i closed up our studios and spent the day visiting the studios of some of our friends - a luxury we rarely allow ourselves. a lot of creative energy is coming out of the north shore of the bay of islands.

we picked up niki (and baby mallach) in summerside and toured her newly renovated knix knits studio that will soon be up and running. the shelves aren't yet complete, so there's bags and bins of brightly coloured wool and yarn everywhere you look.

we all drove further along the shore to the house museum . robyn (who, along with her family, winters in n.y. and summers in gillams) has designed her home as an interactive art installation which explores newfoundland culture. we stood in her kitchen drinking tea from rose decorated china cups (and snacking on marlene's homemade goodies (humberview bake shop)) surrounded by carefully chosen objects from other years - the row of aprons hanging under the window, the white china dog figurines lined up along the sill... robyn is now spinning and dyeing local wool and selling it under the name of wee ball yarns (wee ball or wiebald is the distinctively shaped island that can be seen from robyn's house and from my cabin on the other side of the bay).

our last stop (also in gillams) was at urve's a stone's throw glass works. urve who is well known for her stained glass panels is now spending time working on the process of fused glass and is making bowls, plates and free standing objects. again - a studio full of colour.

we ran out of time so didn't get to craig's meadows pottery or colette's artist studio.

when we got home mid- afternoon, it felt like we'd been away for a long time.

Monday, August 13, 2007

it's truely paradise

spent the weekend at the cabin. dark cove is a tiny "community" of 8 fishing shacks - halfway down the south shore of the bay of islands. it's a 45 minute drive from my home in corner brook. we tore down our shack about 6 years ago and rebuilt. the cabin is all windows - looking out at the ocean, the islands and behind at the blow-me-down mountains. it's truely paradise. there is no electricity, plumbing or running water (we get our water from the brook at the other end of the beach). life is simple at dark cove.
this weekend we had the beach to ourselves, and sitting out on the deck saturday evening we watched a mother sea otter fishing for her babies who were lined up on the rocks by our cabin. she delivered them a large flatfish as if it was a pizza.
dark cove is a good place to hook mats. i don't use a frame to hook so my work is portable. i love that the phone can't ring... i finished this mat yesterday. i'm part of the "fresh fish" show at fog forest gallery in early sept. so this will go there.

Friday, August 10, 2007

fading roses and silk stockings

we've had hard rain for days now. the garden is beaten down. the colours are draining. it's hard to get the dogs to go outside for their pee. but good rug hooking weather. finished another mat for the show. it reminds me of fading roses and silk stockings.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

about my hollyhocks

i love all things old. old objects seem to carry their history, to retain their experience. to have a soul. i work with old fabrics - recycled jersey in my hooked mats, and in my baby clothes i use vintage chenille bedspreads that are too worn to fulfill their original purpose. these clothes are lined with fabric mostly from the 193's-1950's and fastened with old buttons.

ever since i moved to newfoundland over 30 years ago, i've wanted old-fashioned hollyhocks in my garden - not the modern doubles that look more like carnations - but the simple stately ones. nothing reminds me more of old ontario farmhouses. one year i brought seeds back from ontario, but during their first year of growth, the plants developed rust and i had to get rid of them. last year i found these plants at george's in steadybrook. they're all i've ever wanted.

brenda tells me you can gather the spent flowers and use them for a magnificant dye. i'll try that.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

sweet summer rain

i love these days of soft summer rain. the garden is happy and i'm not tempted out of my studio to weed. i'm working hard at the remaining 3 hooked mats for my harbourfront show in toronto in mid-sept. all the mats (16 of them) inspired by 1920's-30's art deco designs - alot from textiles i've purchased over the past year. it's a new and exciting direction.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

it's all new to me

i'm intrigued and terrified of new technology. living in a small community in western newfoundland and working full time as an artist, i'm always looking for new venues to display and sell my work. i also love the idea of reaching out from my home and connecting with other artist/craftspeople who are working quietly day after day mostly in isolation. we'll see how it goes.