Homeless – the search for warmth…

I have been involved in Blankets for Canada for many years. Blankets for Canada makes knit, crochet or quilted blankets to give to people in need of warmth.

Through the Edmonton chapter, I just read about B’s Diner in Old Strathcona that gives out free lunches once a week and is looking for donations of blankets, etc. for a Christmas dinner that they are putting on. It has been mighty cold in Edmonton the last few weeks and it is heartwarming to see people working to make a difference for others. Here is the article.

Blankets for Canada
Blankets motto is “We don’t make mistakes – we make originals!”

We have been experiencing our own problems here on Salt Spring with an unusual early winter storm. The United Church has a program called “In From the Cold” and are providing food and shelter here. Article.

The need is great and there are many people making blankets all across Canada (see the website for the nearest chapter to you) and that is so wonderful. Now if we can get some energy and ideas together for affordable homes that would be even better!

I would be happy to hear any ideas for solutions…..in the meantime I am happy to be able to help out with keeping people warm…..

More cats & weaving

So, the day after I returned from Vancouver, I got a call saying someone was coming to my studio in a couple of hours, would I be there and have something to show them. Of course! However, my SAORI loom was empty, as all of the warp was used up with the banners at the Downtown Eastside Women’s centre.

So, I had to put something on quickly so that they could try out the SAORI loom. I picked out 2 colours of cotton – blue (of course, my favourite) and a tan colour and started measuring out a warp. I decided I would use a colour and weave effect like a log cabin – only SAORI style. Partway through measuring, I decided to change the tan to a light blue bamboo yarn.

Here again is Mars with a finished piece of the weaving….

Cat and Saori weaving

I used the icicles technique to incorporate the tan and light blue yarns and show the colour and weave effect in sections of the weaving.

SAORI Colour and Weave - Log Cabin

Well, the person didn’t end up coming to the studio that day, but I had fun weaving!

Cats & Weaving

It seems whenever I go to take a picture of my weaving, my cats show up – especially one inquisitive one – our Mars (aka Marsalousha or Marzipan or Marsie).

Here she is with a SAORI scarf that I recently made

Cats and weaving - cat with scarf

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Women Engaged in the Arts – Vision & Empowerment (WEAVE)

This past weekend I was at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre doing a Weaving Program with the women there. They have started an Arts program for women called ‘WEAVE’ which stands for Women Engaged in the Arts, Vision and Empowerment.

The Centre is where the Peace Banner is currently being displayed. When I talked to them about the Peace Banner, they told me about the WEAVE project. When I found out that there wasn’t any weaving with the WEAVE project, I put in my proposal.

So, 2 days at the centre. In the morning, they had people in who had registered for the program – people who were particularly interested in weaving. In the afternoon, the drop-in centre was open, so anyone who came in was welcome to weave. We did this for 2 days and we created 2 banners for the centre. These banners will also be on display at one of the downtown Vancouver businesses in February 2007 as part of a collaborative art display done by the women of the Downtown Eastside (many homeless women and women who live below the poverty level).

In the midst of all of this – the whole city of Vancouver is dealing with water problems and are under a boil water advisory because of storms which is particularly difficult for the people in the downtown eastside – no water, no way to boil it and no money to buy it. (you can read more about this on my previous post).

In spite of all of that – the weaving was Fabulous!! The women were so excited to be able to try out weaving on the SAORI loom. There was always someone waiting to weave and a couple of women who would weave every chance they had. I heard wonderful comments like “I could do this all day” “I think we should have a loom here at the centre so we can keep weaving and put banners up all around the centre” “I just realized I haven’t been thinking about my work problems at all!” and so on. Each banner ended up being about 8 – 9 feet long.

I also provided little looms made of foamcore for the women to sit and weave to make things for themselves. They were so creative and many of them made things for gifts for others. They made bracelets, arm bands, chokers, keychains, watch bands and had many ideas for more. Anyone who wanted to could keep one of the looms (one piece of foamcore made about 10-12 looms and cost only $2…..I also provided a tapestry needle and the yarns). I wanted to have something that they could continue weaving with after I left.

They asked when I was coming back. I was very moved by the whole experience!

I couldn’t take pictures in the centre to keep the confidentiality of the women there, but I sure have some wonderful memories that I took with me!

Happy Weaving!

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Water water everywhere – and none to drink!

I am really aware of the water problems after being in Vancouver over the weekend at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre doing a weaving project (more on that in the next post). It is really difficult for the homeless or those living in poverty at the best of times. Now with no clean water and no place to boil water….even more difficult. Luckily on Sunday, the Salvation Army (along with other places) were giving out water to people who needed it. And places like the Women’s Centre are able to provide lunches, etc.

The women are currently occupying the Centre in protest of the lack of funding for affordable housing and for safe shelters for women. (see the CBC News Item). After meeting and talking with many of the women, I realize how difficult it really is for them. At 5:00 pm when the Centre closes, many of them have nowhere to go.

We need solutions! The estimates are for about $500,000 a year to operate the shelter 24 hours a day. This is only a temporary solution, but it would at least give the women a safe place to stay at night. Victoria is providing over $8 million to upgrade their parkades, partly because of homeless people sleeping there (see Victoria Times Colonist item) – how about spending some of that to give them a safe place to sleep??

She Emerges – from “An Eye for Colour” – Part 3

So, about my partner for the Painters and Weavers show……

Well, she is a wonderful woman who also writes haiku….so she also wrote 2 haiku for “She Emerges” which you can see in our write-up for the exhibit: She Emerges (pdf).

elehna de sousa has also published a book “A Shower of Blossoms” of some of her haiku and paintings.Also here is a close-up of the work that initially inspired our collaboration….

Ocean Priestess on Shore - elehna de sousa (c) 2006 elehna de sousa
“Ocean Priestess on Shore” – elehna de sousa

And then the second piece was added for the ‘deep blue sea’….

Ocean Priestess in Deep Surf - elehna de sousa (c) 2006 elehna de sousa
“Ocean Priestess in Deep Surf” – elehna de sousa

She Emerges – from “An Eye for Colour” – Part 2

More on ‘She Emerges’……

When I finished my weaving, then I had to figure out how to display it. I wanted to hang it from an arbutus branch – as the arbutus often hang out over the water….

I wanted to be able to clearly see the transition place…

Well – this didn’t work – it was too long for our display….so….

This looks like it would work…

And here is the final display at ArtSpring

She Emerges – from “An Eye for Colour”

The Salt Spring Weavers’ Guild and the Painters Guild got together this past year to see what would happen if we paired up a weaver with a painter to do complementary pieces for a show titled “An Eye for Colour”.

My partner and I, after working through various ideas, came up with a work based on a mixed-media piece that she had done and we titled our work “She Emerges”. Her piece was a collage with an image of a mermaid that looked like she had just emerged from the water.

So, in contemplating a weaving that would go with that – I thought I would weave the “Deep Blue Sea” and the transition place of the tides where “She Emerges” and up onto the land. I had just learned how to do interlocking warp this summer and so that was perfect – having a dark blue warp change to a sandy coloured warp……here is my first sample piece…..as displayed on our beautiful arbutus tree…..


And here is a picture of a close-up of the finished scarf…

Stay tuned…..I will post more pictures of the development of this project as well as the finished display….

On art and activism – Artivists – Films to change the world

Artivists.org – “Merging Art and Activism for Global Consciousness”

Artivist honors filmmakers from around the world whose work addresses the importance of art and activism in our global community. (Thanks to my son for bringing this to my attention through a post from www.worldchanging.com)

On Salt Spring Island, we have our own Film Festival as well. This year it will be held the weekend of March 2, 3 & 4, 2007. See the website at www.saltspringmediagroup.com. Of course I have a special interest in this as we also do documentary filmmaking.

I just heard the other day about a new educational institute that is starting up for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands which “aims to link art and survival through interdisciplinary approaches and to foster creative solutions to environmental and social problems”. You can read more about it at Islands Institute.

Changing the world through art of many kinds….things to touch the heart and bring positive changes to our world….anyone else with stories of art to change the world?

Weaving Studio

Ahh….my weaving studio….

I have been dreaming of a weaving studio for many years and now it has become a reality. Our SAORI weaving studio in the woods on Salt Spring Island, BC.
The last board is in place…..

And my first weaving retreat is ready to go…..

Well….all the windows weren’t in at this point – but we had the SAORI weaving retreat anyway. Here is Janine with her SAORI weaving…..

And a close up

This wonderful piece of arbutus marks the beginning of the pathway to the studio …

So, you can walk over from our B&B Honeysuckle Cottage to the studio when you are staying here …