We launched year 36 with a l’chaim, the installation of a new President and executive, and an introduction to this year’s challenge and tea party projects. Most of all, we were full of smiles to see old friends and make new ones.
About Annyen and her work:
Annyen Lam is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from OCAD University (2012) as well as the Medal for Printmaking (2012). Her practice includes cut paper works, installation, stone lithography, screenprinting and book arts. She has exhibited throughout Canada and has participated in shows and print exchanges in Holland, Japan, Russia and Venezuela.
Suzanne explained every custom, from the engagement to the henna night to the wedding day to the Brit Milah to the Bar Mitzvah and so on. She used videos to show us the ceremonies with the customary textiles in use. So, for example, the Brit Milah besides being shown on film was enhanced by the baby’s dress itself that we could see and touch. And the henna video let us see how family members would help support the crown, and gown. And we could also hear the typical ululations!
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.
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,” 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.
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!