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.

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.

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

Trash into [fabulous] textile greeting cards

Anna VanDelman writes:
On a beautiful, cold, clear evening, Temple Sinai was ABUZZ  with the excitement of creating 4″ x 6″ pieces of fabric into gift/greeting cards.

Rikki Blitt introduced our own TallitMaaven and fabric design diva, Marilyn Cohen Levy, who presented power point slides showing her amazing work on cards, postcards that yes, go through the mail, and a variety of her other amazing projects. And, who knew what you can do with dryer lint!

A plethora of ideas flowed through the evening. Marilyn generously shared an incredible amount of her stash so that we all took home several cards. This is pure mitzvah work allowing Marilyn to reduce her own stash and of course purchase more fabric. And I, for one, will never have to purchase another greeting/gift card. How lucky we are as members of this Guild to count such talent within our core.

Reesa Wasser flew in from Florida baggage and all to thank Marilyn for all her work and for sharing her special talent with us. Certainly a night to remember!

 

Celebrate: Critiques and Book Construction

Karen Sanders reports: On Wednesday May 20, our Artist-in-Residence Laya Crust gave the final session of her year-long theme of Celebration. Initially she spoke about the concept of a critique. A critique is not a criticism. It is an analysis of what you can do to make your work better. The person giving the critique should be objective, starting and ending with something positive, sensitive about not destroying the ego of the person whose work is being critiqued. Next Laya spoke about book construction, giving examples of fabric books, then of folded paper books. She supplied paper, glue, scissors, and ribbon so that we could make accordion fold books. Her directions are included here. Thank you, Laya, for a year of celebrating ourselves, our work, and our textiles!

Pomegranate Guild visits Hadassah – Hatikvah chapter

IMG_0469On Tuesday January 20 Pomegranate Guild member Barb Goldstein led the members of Hadassah – Hatikvah chapter of Thornhill in a bracelet felting session. Colourful fleece, some soapy water, and Barb’s engaging instruction left participants with beautiful bracelets to take home. Melanie Siegel and Karen Chisvin attended to help with set up and chat about the other activities of the Pomegranate Guild, welcoming all participants of the evening to become guests or new members of the Guild.

What’s Jewish about felted bracelets? Their bagel shape, and an artful outcome of being under intense pressure!

 

 

IMG_20150120_210650

Celebrate: Ourselves

Anna VanDelman reports:
Once again Guild members had to embrace a dark and windy rainy/snowy drive to Temple Sinai, and it was well worth the effort. Anne Marie Desaulnier’s work is entirely breath taking! It is an excellent example of an intuitive approach to art-making that reveals the maker.
Anne Marie with her work

Anne Marie with her work

Anne Marie has a passion for techniques and a love of fabric, paper, beads, recycling and found objects. Many of us recalled her last presentation to us which left a deep impression.  She is a self taught artist who credits her current direction to a combination of early exposure to fabrics as a child, school art classes, books and the internet. Robin Atkins’ on-line bead journal project continues to play a role in her life. Anne Marie is a curious, intuitive fibre artist with a serious magpie mentality who excels in the blending of techniques and materials. Serendipity, colour, nature, family, friends and visual journaling are the threads that tie her work together.

http://artfuldreamer.blogspot.com for more by Anne Marie, and info@beadfx.com to inquire about her winter and spring workshops.

Fibrella

Fibrella

Anne Marie’s soft fibre arts doll “Fibrella” caught our attention as we walked into the room. And we were caught up in the amazing pieces of beaded work in fibre stitchery she had on display for us. Her dedication to journaling is special as she says it helps to put her into a piece by exploring what’s going on in one’s life and family. While working on a textile memorial to her late brother she became obsessed with beading and she showed many magnificent examples of her work. Among her other explorations, Anne Marie has experimented with three dimensional beaded forms (requiring curved needles and lots of patience) and fibre bowls formed on balloons using wallpaper paste.

In the second half of the evening, as Rikki Blitt generously emptied her beading collection onto the workshop tables, Anne Marie came round to each table to demonstrate and help us with several bead stitches. In addition to beads, Anne Marie uses everything possible in her work: buttons,  jewellery, leaves, odd ends of jewellery, glass, doll faces out of paper clay, found objects – among many others.  
Textile self-portrait

Textile Self-portrait

Anne Marie showed us several examples of beaded textile self-portraits that formed the impetus for our upcoming 2015 challenge. It was an amazing evening that encouraged us all to continue to work on our beaded samples and to learn from Anne Marie’s philosophy: ALLOW YOURSELF TO PLAY.

For more textile portraits, see this Pinterest board, or do a web search for “textile self-portraits. http://www.pinterest.com/dianey1/textile-portraits/

Thanks to Reesa Wasser for photos, and Anne Marie Desaulniers for permission to share her work!