About pomegranateguild18

Since 1982 the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Textiles has brought together people who are interested in studying and creating textile art and needlework based on Jewish themes. We welcome people of all ages and skill levels, from professional artist to novice stitcher. Anyone with a desire to learn new techniques and/or anyone with an interest in Judaic textiles is asked to participate.

Spirit of the Bead

Anna Vandelman writes:

Naomi Smith, our guest lecturer on Jan 18th 2017, shared the “Spirit of the Bead” and “Indigenous Stories of Beadwork” with our Guild, introducing us to the work of several First Nations peoples.

Many beads were acquired through exchange during the fur trade. Early beading was done with extremely small beads (sizes 22 and 24 – the smaller the number the larger the bead). A common object for beading were six-sided flap bags made for both native and non-native purchasers. Patterns included crosses depict the four corners of the world as well as other symbols interpreted through beads. Florals motifs appeared on pouches likely of Seneca origin. Some embroidery also shows added ribbons with beading on the ribbons. Decorative items were not differentiated as “art” but are fundamental artifacts.

Naomi showed us some of the popular techniques, including the use of paper templates and double-beaded edges. She showed us how purses opened in the back and not by lifting the flap.

From the 1870s to about 1910 beads get thicker with sizes 9 and 8 being used. Clear beads can be seen on the paper templates overlaid on navy blue velvet. New objects are created: pin cushions begin to appear along with hat pin cushions. By about 1921 there were more new products, including matchstick holders. And as photography became more prevalent there were beaded photo frames.Selling these products created a way for women to survive.Travelling sales saw tribe members carrying up to 2000 lbs. of bead work across the country.

After the slide show we were all invited to view – and touch! –the artifacts. Of great interest were the exquisite cuffs and collars. We could feel Naomi’s pride in her history. But beading remains a living activity: Naomi told us about a current commemorative art installation, “Walking with our Sisters,” where beaded moccasin tops symbolize indigenous lives cut short.

Altogether a rich opportunity to glimpse another culture through textile techniques.

About Naomi Smith – Beader
Naomi is a First Nation Artisan and Educator. She is actively involved in educating others about the ways of the First Nations people of the Woodlands and Northeastern area from a historical and contemporary perspective often through the story of beads. Her work embraces ancestral designs in the form of bags, adornment and traditional accessories. Naomi’s work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally. She has exhibited at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington DC and NYC, Vancouver 2010 Olympics and participates in numerous Native and non-Native events throughout the year. Her work has been acquired as permanent collections at the Art Gallery of Guelph, Niagara Historical Museum, and private acquisitions throughout the world.

Naomi is an accomplished public speaker and enjoys educating others about the culture and life ways of the Woodlands or Great Lakes First Nations peoples. She always welcomes and feels honoured by the many opportunities to share her cultural legacy.
 
Artist’s Statement:
“Honouring our traditions is my voice within and beyond my Culture and Community. Traditionally there is no word for “art” in Native languages yet artistry and visual expression are critical in defining who we are as First Nations people. It is this path I wish to exemplify through my teachings and my work”.

And you shall teach your children – compassion and community service

Anna VanDelman writes
On December 21 Guild members spent a short time recalling the sweatshops some of our ancestors worked in at the beginning of the 20th Century. With a flurry of work, our members produced project kits for distribution to children in our community.
The evening was opened by a moving introduction by Samara Goldenburg who shared stories to convey the social myths and social work of the Jewish community. And, then Guild members rose to our challenge for the session: Six tables, each with a different age-based textile project to assemble materials and other goodies for. This project helped us responsibly use stash we had collected over the years (hooray).Members were so engaged in the process (the more kits, the more children we can help!) we could hardly hear ourselves talk.
At the end of our 90 minutes of piecework, we completed assembly of:
• 25 dinosaur kits
• 20 Teddy bear kits
• 25 glove puppet kits
• 25 tooth fairy kits
• 25 grab bag kits
• 45 sticky back tile kits
Congratulations to our programme team Paula Suchat Miller, team co-ordinator, Reesa Wasser and Shirley Gossak for the tremendous amount of work it took to enable Guild members the chance to pay it forward.

Yarn!

Anna Vandelman writes:

Once again three dozen Guild members came together on a beautiful evening for a textile movie night, complete with popcorn! Kudos to our program committee.

The movie, Yarn, focused on the sheep that provide the wool and the artists who work it. Opening scenes showed wool caught on barbed wire and continued with beautiful knitted and/or crocheted and woven items hung on and in unusual places. A travelogue of sorts, as we followed crocheted, knitted and woven fibers from Poland to Rome to Iceland to New York to Denmark to Japan showing unbelievable items of clothing and art pieces. We learned it’s not just the yarn it’s the whole sheep! Many people – artists, knitters, etc. – buy raw wool and then dye the wool.

The arts of knitting, weaving and crocheting can bring generations together. We saw textile sculptures, textiles made for royalty, still sculptures, and play structures as well as circus acts based on yarn and textiles. We viewed a beautiful gift to The  Goddess of the Sea. As the sea surrounds us all, sending gifts out into it is a way to unite us all. The practice of working with yarn exists across the planet for functions old and new. For example, in Barcelona we saw crocheted lampposts covers: in Grandma’s or Bubbie’s house these items may be overlooked. When we place them in a new context, we more fully appreciate the beauty of the work and its craft. Engaging with yarn makes the mind sharp while it adds colour to life. The best part is that you can unravel the work and start again!

It all begins with a line – an evening with Helen Liene Dreifelds

“It all begins with a line,” says Helen, a weaver of fascinating shapes.

Helen Liene Dreifelds spoke about her own artistic journey, illustrating it with many examples of her work in woven monofilament and hand-spun fibres. She concluded the evening with a hands-on exercise for us.

Helen explores textile constructions to see how she can expand beyond traditional boundaries of the craft/art. When a number of us remarked that a striped piece seemed to recall a tallit, Helen said such observations help connect her to a recently discovered Jewish great-grandmother.

Every table had a chance to look up close at samples of her very fine work, and compare them – as she urged us – to her photographs of them. With music playing, Helen often works in 15” widths on a 36” wide loom and builds up sculptural forms by layering, twisting, weaving, and hanging the narrow strips together. Due to the properties of the filaments and threads, much of the work is self-supporting and they are miraculously completed with the use of light shining through them.

Positioned like actors on a stage, Helen’s work will be on view at the Lonsdale Gallery from 23 November – 23 December 2016. Helen can also be found working at Harbourfront Craft and Design Studios where she works, learns and shares ideas with the other 28 artists-in-residence in a wide variety of disciplines.

We all felt the metaphysical experience of her work hands-on as Helen led us through an exercise to use pieces of screening, cellophane, along with other materials we were not used to. And – believe it or not – a flashlight to help us let the shadows of our work tell a story. We each surprised ourselves by creating nylon mesh sculptures. Take a look at our work here, and Helen’s too.

Heads UP!

Anna Vandelman writes

Hats off to programme guru Paula Miller as she continues to bring creative ideas to us at the Guild. For our opening programme this year– in our new accommodations at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagoge –  she brought millinery expert, Ampara Findlay of Hatitude to run us through the ins and outs of making exquisite fascinators.

Everyone was involved and excited to participate – including those who came intending just to observe. Personal knitting and crochet projects were put aside as we all rummaged through the Guild stash and chose items of our own that we’d brought along for the evening.

After a brief introduction, we got to work. Amparo went around to each one of us helping us with our choices and making suggestions so that all of our creations looked professional.

It was, indeed, a fascinating evening. And we are sure that many new items of headwear attracted attention at shul this high holiday season!

Show, Share, and Qvell!

Anna Vandelman writes:
Reesa IMG_5840WHAT A SPECIAL EVENING!
Every year Pomegranate Guild members can hardly wait to see what other members have been working on over the past year.
WE WERE NOT DISAPPOINTED.
President Bruria Cooperman opened the meeting with a “d’var” – a few remarks about engaging in the pleasure and discovery of making. Then, with our theme for the past year “Something from Nothing” (In essence take “nothing” – actually anything from your stash – and create “something”.) the following members presented their somethings and the stories that went along with them. It gave us a rich picture of artistic approaches that our members take to their work. Treat yourself to this unusual eye candy.
Karen Sanders Judy Dan’s (z’l)  physical interpretation of the book Something from Nothing”.
Gwen Orriell Knitted precious clothes for her new Grandson Elan.
Janet Page Wedding ring bearer pillow
Rikki Blitt Stitching on leaves.
Sue Goldenberg Challah cover with Ten Commandments
Paula Miller Vase with Paverpol flowers
Reesa Wasser Multicoloured, textured, and burnt fabric pieces
Pam Chasen Wedding purses and several book marks
Barbara Goldstein Wall hanging made from “nothing” such as rusted metal, fabric scraps, etc.
Mitzi Zohar Embroidered heirloom wedding chuppah using ancestor’s wedding veil
Helen Tucker All occasion cards created from old and new fabric
Rosa Levitt Fabric abstract collages

Textile 3D – getting messy with Paverpol

Karen Sanders writes:

Vessel_Karen_SandersAt our May meeting we had the opportunity to get down and dirty while learning to use an exciting new material.Marlene Morton of Camerons Studio, Port Dover, Ontario was the speaker and teacher of our meeting. Marlene is a fabric sculpting artist. She uses natural fabrics treated with Paverpol, a remarkable new sculpture medium from Holland. This environmentally friendly, water-based hardener is non-toxic and harmless to people, plants and animals.

Since Paverpol is made to cure rock-hard, sculptures and statues are weather resistant after hardening, and can withstand snow, frost, wind, rain and sun. Paverpol is easy to work with. It adheres to almost any material, except plastics.

We met at Darchei Noam for this joint program with our venue hosts. With floors and  table tops covered in plastic sheeting, we wore aprons to protect our clothes and gloves to protect our hands. In advance we chose either to work on a flat surface or to created a vessel. We each supplied a 100% white cotton tee shirt. Each table was equipped with scissors and several containers of liquid Paverpol. We cut our tee shirts into small squares, then dipped each square in the pre-mixed and tinted Paverpol, squeezing it so that the liquid was completely absorbed by the fabric, leaving no white spots uncovered.

Each person working on a flat surface was given a small face to place on her work. The others had brought vessels, e.g. pots, vases, or even an armature. We crumpled our fabric pieces and draped them to make a design or to totally cover our vessels. This was very messy and therefore was a lot of fun. Once we were satisfied with our projects, we used hairdryers to partially dry our work. Then we used dry brush acrylic paints to paint our creations. The paint covered the “ridges”, leaving the “valleys” – the original black or gray of the Paverpol – giving an interesting finish. The Paverpol dries completely in twenty-four hours, so we took our work home to finish drying and curing.

We hope you will add pictures of your own finished work to our Facebook page post of this meeting!

Visit Marlene’s website at www.cameronsstudio.com. Many thanks to Marlene, her volunteer helpers and our own Paula Miller for organizing the evening for us.

A tisket, a tasket, I made a yellow basket

Anna VanDelman writes
(with apologies to Ella Fitzgerald)

Once again Pomegranate members indulged in an exciting creative project. It happened on a beautiful evening at Temple Sinai on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. As we entered the hall we were treated to a display of members’ own creations of vessels, each one  exquisite in own design and execution, made of felt, fabric, reed, and many other materials.

The evening began with a D’var Torah delivered by immediate past president Karen Chisvin. To set the scene for the program ahead, she spoke about the commandment to wash our hands – our instruments of work in the world. And she quoted from the words of Torah by Rabbi Frand about the vessels of the poor brought to the Temple for Shavuot. They were handmade wicker baskets, kept by the Kohanim to bring merit to the poor, while the gold and silver trays of the rich were returned to them as they were not vested with the labour of the pilgrims.

Melanie Siegel then introduced her friend and colleague, Michelle Zikovitz our guest lecturer for the evening. Michelle is currently Art Supervisor for the Town of Richmond Hill. She started out as a tapestry weaver and then fell in love with basket weaving. Her baskets are visually appealing as well as functional and practical.

Michelle then taught us to create a basic basket by weaving wet reeds around a styrofoam cup. We used her hand-dyed reeds (her personal favourite material) that helped us, like her other students of all ages, to develop an appreciation of the ancient artistry of basket weaving. And then, Guild members took off in all directions, using more reeds, our fabric stash, personal ornaments and other materials to continue and complete our work.

Michelle also directed us to Pinterest and other internet sources to explore more basketry ideas. For more about Michelle, see her website, and search for name in the images tab of your browser.

Thank you Michelle for a fascinating evening!

Planting Seeds

The Pomegranate Guild Outreach program “Seeds” travelled to Netivot HaTorah on March 30 to work with bat mitzvah age girls on a Life Skills stitching project. We enjoyed an intergenerational afternoon of sharing and stitching. This was just the start of the project and we are looking forward to the final work.

Finding the Story – An evening with Alice Vander Vennen

Anna VanDelman writes:
On March 16, 2016 three dozen women and men from The Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Textiles Toronto and Congregation Darchei Noam joined together at  Darchei Noam for a wonderful evening of textiles co-presented by the two organizations.  We were thrilled to see the Guild’s current exhibit “In Celebration” on display in the synagogue social hall, with our pomegranate grid hanging on one of the public feature walls and Melanie Siegel’s marvel hanging over the main stair.

Wearing two hats – one from each organization – Sara Levine Petroff introduced our guest artist, Alice Vander Vennen. Alice is an artist of Dutch parentage who presented a slide show with comments, explaining how the methods and materials of her art are related to her life. Alice juxtaposes text with natural and found objects scavenged from many sources. She works intuitively with a strong basis in composition and colour. Many of the pieces are large and rich in deep colours 18″ by 50: some forming portraits. In other works, a canoe-like shapes of sticks and wire speak of journeys.

Alice then led us through a hands-on session of collage and composition. She shared some of the tips and tricks that work for her: using a frame to test a composition, cutting and repositioning, reaching for “just the right detail.” At one point in the evening as she was teaching her technique she looked down at her clothing and cut a large button off the jacket she was wearing. Though we all gasped and held our own clothing closer to us we realized that for Alice, inspiration is everywhere. This was an evening of pure magic. Thank you Alice for allowing us a view into your own creative process.

If you want to get your socks knocked off visit Alice Vander Vennen – Original Works