We showed, we shared, we qvelled – 2017 edition

On June 21, 2017 we celebrated the work of our hands with the 2017 edition of Show, Share, and Quell. Have a creative summer, everyone.

 

Under the New-Old Chuppah

Anna Vandelman writes:
On May 17, 2017 Pomegranate Guild members were treated to a first viewing of completed “new/old” Chuppah. Kol Ha Kavod to Haya Nativ and to all the many members who participated in its fabrication.
Many Pomegranate Guild members joined in at the beginning of the evening to set up the amazing Chuppah to choruses of “wow,” and “how wonderful.” Graham Silver – whose mother Sarah was the designer of the original motifs – and his wife Ruth came to see it as well. Their children married under it in its almost-complete-state in the fall of 2015. And member Barbara Goldstein Nightingale married under it in September 2016.
Haya, as project coordinator and lead on the construction of the new chuppah, discussed the history of the Chuppah, and explained the alterations to design and material that she made to bring the Chuppah into the present. This included using more transparent fabrics, hand-dyed silks, shadow quilting with gold threads using wrapped running stitch, and devising a new top design and suspension system. Along the way, members shared anecdotes about their participation in stitching the old and/or the new-old chuppah.
The 27 members who came together to see the exquisite production stayed to discuss the future of the Guild..with leadership as a priority.

Surprise and Delight

Anna Vandelman reports:
The evening of March 15, 2017 will go down as one of surprise and delight for Pomegranate Guild members.
Who among us does not admire paper cuts? And how many of us ever thought we could add one to our repertoires? Well, we all did it!
Guest artist Annyen Lam gave us an overview of her amazing work, and then step by step instructions for us to follow along.
We used art knives, paper called classic kitakata, and a hamsa image provided by Annyen to do our work. Annyen patiently answered our questions, and helped us individually with our cutting challenges. We all came to realize how her many of hours of practice lead to her expert work. But to our delight, we each went home with a paper cut Hamsa!

 

About Annyen and her work:
www.annyenlam.com
www.instagram.com/tinybladesproject
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.

 

 

The life-cycle in Moroccan Jewish textiles

Anna Vandelman writes:
My dear friend Suzanne Benchimol came to the Guild’s February meeting to teach us about Moroccan Jewish  textiles. Most in attendance had no idea of the exquisite, sumptuous clothing they were about to see.
Suzanne made it most interesting by taking us through the lIfe cycle of clothing from the garments and wrappers of the Brit Milah to the henna ceremony garb and wedding dresses. WOW! She detailed for us every inch of each piece.
Suzanne is a very accomplished designer and seamstress. This is most evident in the unbelievable work on the layered wedding ensembles she creates. We saw some examples in photographs but the highlight of the night was the outfit we could examine – layer by layer – as Suzanne dressed our model, member Barbara Goldstein – a recent bride herself. We were impressed by the perfection of each embroidered stitch, bead, and decorative textile, no matter what we were shown.
Today many brides prefer to wear white gowns for their wedding day. So, it has become a custom that the richly embroidered dress and matching headress (the bride is seen as a queen and so a crown is essentia!l), is worn for the Henna Night, when all women add henna to the bride’s palms. The layers of the gown are designed to be adjustable in fit. The gowns were often shared around within families and communities, or loaned to poor families.

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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!

We were allowed to touch the textiles she brought for us to examine, including beautiful old silk shawls and heritage tallit bags. Besides being totally involved in the textile art of life- cycle clothing Suzanne actively invents and plans programs for residents and patients at Baycrest in the Home and Hospital and she has been honoured as a Baycrest treasure having her photo added to the wall in the Silverman Court.
Thank you Suzanne, for this special, informative  and delightful evening!

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