Thursday, September 27, 2007

and one more trip

i'm heading into st. john's this afternoon for a few days. i'm on the board of the rooms (newfoundland's art gallery, museum and archives) and we're having meetings saturday. i'm taking a big wholesale order into the devon house craft council shop - the last order to be filled before christmas. so when i get back sunday i can buckle down and make work for the craft fairs. i'm also taking an extra day to spend with my excellent grandchildren - 7 year old grandson and 2 year old grandaughter. we live on opposite ends of the island (900 kms) so i don't see nearly enough of them. my daughter and her husband have just bought a new house (a wonderful 100 year old "arts and crafts style" house that needs alot of work, so they won't be moving in for another month). fortunately my son-in-law is a contractor so they take these renovations in their stride. this will be a sweet break before the craziness of craft fairs sets in. i'm taking in a new knitting project i'm designing and hopefully will get it worked out and into production.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

the loss of a hero

i started my first art degree in 1971 in guelph, ontario. although we didn't see it at the time (because it was all we knew), it was hard being a female art student back then. we didn't know any female artists. in a faculty of 10, the only woman taught art history. in our art history survey course, our huge textbook (janson's history of art) did not mention 1 female artist. the only female artists we knew were known because they were the daughter of or married to a male artist. i had a couple of wonderful instructors, but many were part time and there was often an undercurrent of sexual tension. there were no guidelines to student/teacher conduct and in 1 particular case we all knew if you slept with the teacher you would get an "A". i got a "C".

in my 2nd year i had the priviledge of having ken danby as an instructor. he was already famous and wealthy and taught one course a term only because of his love of teaching and his belief in the importance of learning well. in a period of huge abstract colourfield paintings (it's where i learned colour), his intricate realistic paintings went against the grain. but he was a fine teacher. and he was a gentleman.

yesterday morning, over my breakfast, i read that he had died this past weekend while canoing in algonquin park. he was 67. although much too young, i cannot think of a better way for him to die. he was one of my heroes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

never enough time

my goal for yesterday was to complete 20 bibs - made from vintage chenille and cotton. i finished 9. i go into st. john's on thursday and am trying finish off a wholesale order to take in for the craft council shop. even when i feel i have the whole day to work "life" gets in the way. correspondance and a few phone calls in the morning. a conference call in the afternoon (for a board committee i'm on). late afternoon at the gym with marilee (trying to get back into a 3 day a week rountine because if i don't my body falls apart). and in the evening i went with catherine to see "sicko" (it was only here for 1 night). maybe today i'll have the whole day to work!

Monday, September 24, 2007

bounty show

my hooked mat show at bounty in the harbourfront centre in toronto opened last weekend. check out for more information.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

early autumn day

yesterday was one of those rare autumn days. warm in the brilliant sunshine. no wind to speak of. spent a lovely relaxed day at the cabin. barb and jerry at their cabin at the other end of the beach so back and forth with the dogs, sharing cups of tea and lots of talk.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

where does inspiration happen?

where does inspiration happen? it doesn't often work if you go looking. i find i have to settle my mind. quiet it. not ask it questions. just let it be. and then it comes in with a flash and i know. or sometimes i don't make the connection until after. like with this hat. i took yarn and needles to nyc and only on the last evening picked them up and knit. when my daughter saw the finished product she said "it's just like a skyscraper against the night sky". yes!

Friday, September 21, 2007

where are the craftspeople?

i know there are craftspeople in nyc but i couldn't find them. there are of course the high end fashion houses with exquisitely made and amazingly expensive one-of-a-kind handbags, scarves, necklaces. there are the street vendors with "handwoven" textiles from ecuador. but i couldn't track down an area in nyc that had shops specializing in locally produced hand made items. the closest i came was to the scattered shop in soho. la petite princess ( made and carried wonderful chunky goldplated and enameled jewelry (it reminded me of jewelry my daughter would draw and colour when she was about 8 years old). i bought a ring and haven't wanted to take it off. i also came across mystic butterfly ( shop owner and designer, liza yu chen, knits the most exotic and humorous and funky hats - shaped and embedded with plastic animals, feathers, flowers and twigs.
i know i missed something - hopefully more research before my next trip will lead me to what i'm looking for.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

some things i discovered in nyc

this was my 4th trip to nyc (over a period of 40 years) and every time i go there i discover different things (about the city and about myself). i've gone as an excited impressionable teenager and budding artist, a graduate m.f.a. student passionate about painting and the "art world", a newly unemployed and recently divorced middle-aged woman. and now. a self-employed fibre artist. a mother of a grown woman.

i discovered:

the staten island ferry: free! a 1 hour round trip ferry ride to staten island that gives you a magnificant view of the skyline of nyc as well as the statue of liberty and ellis island.a wonderful way of orienting yourself.

fancy places: we stayed at the pod hotel at 51st and 3rd so there were a lot of fancy places around us - tiffany's, trump towers, high end fashion "ateliers", takashimaya (an amazing department store that is more like a museum or gallery of exquisite design). we decided that we would go everywhere we wanted and not let our fear of snobbery hold us back. we were greated warmly wherever we went.

yarn shops: i was told to go to knitty city on upper east side and habu in mid manhattan, and we stumbled upon purl in soho. exquisite exciting yarns from all over the world. makes me want to drop my hook and pick up my needles.

digital camera this is the first time i've traveled with a digital camera. i've always carried a sketchbook to record things that inspire me. i still made notes but it was wonderful to have this discrete little camera and be able to photograph everything.

cheap eats. new york city is a wonderful place to eat well and cheaply. sidewalk juice bars! deli salad counters! ethnic restaurants of every kind. and cheap! only once did we spend over $20.00 on a meal (for 2!). i'm vegetarian and i live in a place where it's almost impossible to eat out so this was a real treat

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

my new york

i got home around 2:00 this morning. i never know what the purpose of a trip will be. i just know it's necessary. this one was to reconnect with the spirit of my mother in a city we both loved, and to share this with my daughter. it was to make my world seem large again (away from home, away from routine and the expected). it was to get excited about what other people make. it was to visit this city that has been hurt. it was to learn new things. it was to eat good food. it was a wonderful trip.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

some little paintings

i've placed some small paintings at the "brewed awakening" cafe on west st., corner brook. they're 4"x4", acrylic paint on wood and are selling for $25.00 each. some are landscapes, others are flora and fauna.

the simple things

i always get sentimental and emotional when i'm about to take a trip. my small everyday routines, what i have around me, my garden, my friends and family, my partner keith and my pets - all become larger and more significant.

i've always travelled. as an artist i'm always looking for new. new ideas, new visual stimulation. colours and combinations that i haven't thought of on my own. travel makes my world larger. it makes more seem possible.

at the same time it makes me see my home with more clarity. how i have created how and where i live. the simple things.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

going back

the last time i was in new york city was 6 years ago. it was a holiday with 3 of my 4 siblings. i arrived home on sept. 9th, and 2 days later our world changed. my heart broke for a city, for a people i had fallen in love with. while there ,we had taken the ferry to the statue of liberty and ellis island. there is nothing like the skyline of nyc. when i picked up my developed photos later that week (this was pre-digital for me) the twin towers still stood proudly. it's good to be going back.

Monday, September 10, 2007

where should we go?

robyn has been sending me info on interesting shops etc. to check out while i'm in new york city. the latest is a little button shop called tender buttons (she says it feels like a button museum). robyn lives there half the year (the other half in gillams, newfoundland - see her fairisle blog on my links list). she knows exactly what i'm looking for to either purchase (vintage fabric, yarn remnants, old buttons) or be inspired by (contemporary and ancient textiles collections etc.)i know many of you have been to new york. any suggestions? my daughter edith is looking for lace and wallpaper and fashion bargains. we're both vegetarian so would love some restaurant suggestions. or just any amazing sites? i discovered the tenament museum in the lower east side the last time i was there and loved it. what do you love in nyc?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

smokey sou'wester

yesterday was a gift. the temperature reached a high of 25 degrees with a fine fog and a gentle south westerly wind. this is so rare in september in newfoundland. everyone was happy. we spent the day at the cabin

Saturday, September 8, 2007


as a feminist buddhist i shouldn't like westerns. but i do. cowboys live by simple truths. i grew up watching western movies at the saturday matinee and on tv. davey crockett was my first hero and i learned to tie bows on my lace-up davey crockett shirt. the first books i read on my own were the little house on the prairie series ( i can still remember the shelf they were on - way down at the bottom under wilder - in my school library). but most of all i wanted a covered wagon to live in. i see now that it was my love of travel, combined with my need to nest, that made me think that this was the ideal home. tonight keith and i went and saw 3:10 to yuma. loved it.
ps i collect vintage "cowboy" fabric - flannel and cotton - and line my baby overalls and pants with it, and make cowgirl "twirly" skirts.

Friday, September 7, 2007

new york city

when i was 15, in 1965, my mother took me to new york city. this was an honour (being the middle child of a large family). i had never been away from home. when we arrived, my mother basically turned me loose (she was that kind of a mother). i felt like holly golightly (breakfast at tiffany's was and still is my favourite movie). i discovered a vibrant world full of difference and possibilities. i bought my first mini skirt off a sidewalk rack (which my father wouldn't let me wear when i got home - toronto of the '60's was still very uniform and concervative). i discovered large garlic dill pickles from deli barrels and good strong coffee . i went to carnegie hall to see dick gregory with a boy i met in the hotel elevator. i arrived home 5 days later a changed person. my world had grown.

next thursday, on the first anniversary of my mother's death, my daughter and i are going to new york city. we're taking some of my mother's ashes and sprinkling them in central park. 10 years ago (before alzheimers set in), my mother asked us to do this.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

sparkly yarn

couldn't resist my new yarn and knit up this funky little baby cap. yum.


i'm thinking of selling my work on etsy. in case you don't know about etsy - it's an "ebay" for craft producers. last week i signed up and purchased my first item. lubee's yarn arrived today and i couldn't be happier with it. exquisite colours. sparkles and beads throughout. i just want to drop my painting and pick up my knitting needles and start playing. since all my work for the next 2 months is earmarked for shop orders and craft fairs, i need to hold off till december before i become a seller. but i can keep buying!
ps. i have a few pieces in "fresh fish" at fog forest gallery in sackville new brunswick which opens today. check it out at

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


i'm an environmentalist but i'm also a creator. i make things. and i know the world doesn't need more things. so there is a dilemma. in order to justify what i do, as much as possible, i use recycled materials. my hooked mats are made with used t-shirts that i purchase in bulk at thrift stores (or get from friends). my sewn baby clothes are made from old chenille bedspreads and vintage cotton. i find wonderful old buttons . i feel i'm giving new life to old materials. when i paint,for the most part i paint wooden objects that can be used - mailboxes, birdhouses, boxes, bowls - objects than serve to beautify or enhanse a space as well as serve a function. i can't stop "making" but my conscience sits a little easier.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

his world is slow

skipper is old and his world is slow. i volunteer at the local spca, and 6 years ago skipper was brought in from down the coast. his owners were elderly and couldn't keep him when they moved to the seniors home. we think now that he was probably about 10 years old and few people are willing to adopt such an old dog. so we fit him into our home.he spends most of his day napping now. his "walk" is a slow meander through the garden. he's very stiff and has to be carried up and down the stairs. when it's warm his breathing gets laboured. skipper is pretty well blind and deaf. but he still loves his dinner and lights up when he knows he's getting a piece of cheese or banana. he's old, but not sick, and still has his pleasures. we watch him carefully.

Monday, September 3, 2007

cash cod

for over 500 years the economy and culture of newfoundland depended on the cod fishery. it was who we were. that came to an abrupt end in 1991 with the announcement of the cod moratorium. because of over fishing - mostly offshore - the cod stocks were horribly depleted and the boats were pulled up on shore. in the past 16 years the face of newfoundland has drastically changed. st. john's (the capital city)continues to thrive (most recently because of lucrative offshore oil deals) but the smaller outport communities, that existed only because of the cod, are dying.

all weekend i worked at finsihing up a cod mailbox. these mailboxes (and my cod mats), keith calls my "cash cods". anything i produce with cod imagery sells immediately - not just to tourists but to newfoundlanders as well. i'm one of the few left who are still making money off of the cod...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

it came upon us

last night the seasons changed. heavy rain yesterday and this morning a dazzling blue sky with a northerly wind. it was definitely not summer any more. we hiked up over hospital hill and picked blueberries.

my home is my studio

my home is my studio. i knit and hook on the couch in the livingroom in front of the tv. i paint on the drawing table in the corner of the livingroom. i store my wooden boxes and bowls (ready to be painted) in the dining room. my lumber (for small paintings on wood) is stored in the spare bedroom because the basement is damp. and i keep my extra yarn stash there too. my "studio" is where i sew and prepare my mats. it's where my customers and visitors can come and look at my work. i live with a man who is very tolerant.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

stupid rain

the last long weekend of the summer and the forecast is for heavy rain. we'd planned on going to the cabin but are now reconsidering. we don't have electricity in dark cove so when it rains hard it's dark in the cabin. i can't work (knit or hook) and can't read without straining my eyes. the dogs get wet. the walk along the beach to the stream for water , the run to the outhouse are complicated. the comforts of home are attractive.