the inspiration of Sheila Hicks

I visited the Textile Museum last week to see the Sheila Hicks exhibit, Material Voices. This link will take you to Hicks’ site with photos of the full range of her work. The large wrapped and coiled structures are exuberant, brightly coloured and impressive. The show in Toronto contains some of these and also excellent videos of the installation of her enormous architectural pieces.


Bas-relief panel for an architectural project.

But it was the small framed pieces which intrigued me, her minimes. From the museum: “Working on a small scale provides her with the freedom to investigate colour, line and form; to test new techniques and to respond directly to her lived experiences. Indeed when she leaves her house or studio, Hicks often carries with her the small loom she build in the 1950’s should inspiration arise.”

I loved the thought of carrying a small frame and weaving on the spot. Testing out ideas in small hooked pieces is something I’ve been doing in the last few months–although in the studio, not on location! I have two big projects in mind and I’m taking my time working things out in my small mats.

By the way, I’ve updated both the Rug Hooking Gallery and the Leather Gallery to include all my work for the last year. It’s good record of what I’ve tried and helps me see where I want to go next. Check these out by clicking the link under Navigation on the right hand side of the blog page.


sketching in the frigid weather

Sunday mornings are the best for sketching. The city is quiet and I can park easily and sketch views otherwise unavailable. But this past Sunday was frigid and my feet were nearly frozen after I completed this sketch. I think the cold distorted my vision too–I’ve made the yellow building much taller than it really is. behind-front-jan-8-16

This sketch was completed at home the next day. Over the course of this year I am going to try to sketch as many of the historic buildings in the city as I can. Even though this one is on a city street, it has the feeling of a country setting. This was done without my usual ink outline, so seems softer. Lots to experiment with and work on this year–hope to do a sketch a day around the city, improving  technique and composition. Goals. That’s what the new year is about, right?west-hill-house


A new tote: the simon

The new tote is named for my upcoming travel destination. But more on that later. I have been thinking about a new larger travel tote for some time. In the fall I made a bag from this leather and really liked it.  There was just enough leather left for a new larger bag. It is a simple design, unlined, with two large pockets on the outside and another inside. The handles are repurposed from a wide leather belt–I slit the leather in two and finished the edges. The long strap is cotton webbing with a leather shoulder protector. I like the contrast of the dark chocolate leather with the carmel handles and strap. (Delicious!) This bag is large, 19″x15″x6.5″ and with a double leather bottom made for heavy-duty use!

I think the third photo especially gives an idea of the character of this leather. I am hoping it will just get nicer as it ages. I’ll report back after its first trip.





2016 sketching part 2 scotland in september

I have not posted many of the Scotland sketches before so here are some of the most memorable. Going through the sketchbook brings each day of the trip back. There is nothing quite like sketching on the outer edge of the continent or in the very location of a bloody battle you have heard about all your life. All but one of these sketches were done on sight, (as you can tell from the mucky marks on the paper) and sometimes paint was added later. balluchulish









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a look at 2016 sketching part 1

2016-sketchbooksI had no plan to photograph my pile of sketchbooks, but when I lined them up I was astounded at just how many there were. My plan was to choose a few of my favourite sketches and post them as a review of the year as I did last year. But I just couldn’t resist stacking them and taking a photo.

When I started sketching last January I had two goals: improve the composition of my sketches and work on the depth of colour. I’ve chosen my favourite sketch from each month and I think overall they reflect an attempt to work on both goals. And just as important, they evoke the feeling of time and place for me, the weather, the company, the mood.

This first sketch is was done in Picton Ontario, sitting in a parked car with my great friend A, she in the front seat, and I behind her. It actually was done in late December, but I’m including it because it is in the first sketchbook.picton house

This is January’s sketch. I parked on the side street facing the Moodie cottage in Belleville. This sketch is particularly meaningful to me because I once lived in that apartment behind the main house.moodie house

February’s sketch is also in Belleville. Again I was in the car, parked behind the main street. My favourite building, the City Hall, is peeking over the old stone chimneys of Belleville’s early storefronts.back of front feb 16

This is on the road to Napanee, the town next to ours. Again, sketched from the car.road to Napanee

This one was sketched in April, but it was warm enough for me to be sitting on a bench in Stratford Ontario. Recorded are the people who came by to comment.stratford-april-15-2016

This is my favourite sketch of the year. I was sitting on a bench behind the City Hall in Kingston to capture this view.behind kingston city hall

Again Kingston and the same Church tower, from a different george's june 17

I’ll continue tomorrow with the next 6 months, including our trip to Scotland.

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To all those who visit this blog, I wish you and your close-ones the very best for 2017. The world seems an uncertain place these days–and I’m hoping along with Liz Lochhead  that “the light comes back”. We can work together to make it happen for climate, for civic harmony and for peace. Let’s each do our bit, whether big scale or small.


my scottish roots

Maybe it’s because I was in Orkney and the Hebrides in September. Or maybe it’s because I read four Peter May novels this year with his dark, broody plots and settings. Or maybe it’s because today is Charles MacIntosh’s birthday, the brilliant chemist who is best known for his invention to protect us from the rain and cold. Or maybe it’s because the moon is hiding these nights and the days are dark and bone-chilling. Or maybe it’s because we lost so many bright lights in 2016. I’m sure it’s a combination of all of the above which have brought me to listen to this wonderful poem by Liz Lochhead over and over today. You can listen here (which I heartily recommend) and read the full text below.

In the Mid-Midwinter – Poem by Liz Lochhead

At midday on the year’s midnight
into my mind came
I saw the new moon late yestreen
wi the auld moon in her airms though, no,
there is no moon of course,
there’s nothing very much of anything to speak of
in the sky except a gey dreich greyness
rain-laden over Glasgow and today
there is the very least of even this for us to get
the light comes back
the light always comes back
and this begins tomorrow with however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.
there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest,
fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars,
and lines of old songs we can’t remember
why we know
or when first we heard them
will aye come back
once in a blue moon to us
bless us with their long-travelled light.


I am a retired educator and recovered administrator. I have always been interested in fibre, first as a weaver, now as a rug hooker and screen printer. Over the last few years I have become passionate about giving a new life to cast-off wool and leather. This is my journal where I muse about my creative life.

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