Unshelved Exhibition & Paper Yarn


My FINA class has just set up an exhibition in the library called Unshelved, buy which is on display until April 8th. The theme is art as future making, which allows for a broad range of subject matter. I am enjoying the novelty of working with people from other departments.

Re: make // Re: search // Re: new
Re: make // Re: search // Re: new

My project features paper yarn spun by hand from the pages of an old dictionary. I then wove it into a tapestry with a cotton warp. I also cut out words beginning with “re” and their definitions. I was contemplating the connections between language, storytelling, and textiles, and their restorative potential. The wooden spindle and spool reinforce the spinning associations, drawing greater attention to process. Spinning and weaving with paper were extremely time consuming but I’m happy with the result.

Spinning and weaving with paper yarn is particularly popular in Japan. The resulting cloth is called shifu. They normally use stronger papers made from kozo or gampi, which can be spun using a spindle or wheel (my dictionary paper was too fragile and I had to do it all by hand). You can find helpful tutorials here, here, and here. Some good books are A Song of Praise for Shifu, by Susan J. Bird, Kigami and Kami-ito, by Hiroko Karuno, and Paper Textiles by Christina Leitner.



Artist Profile: Alexandra Kehayoglou

Photo: Sofía López Mañan
Photo: Sofía López Mañan

I first discovered the work of Alexandra Kehayoglou in 2014, sickness when Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten commissioned one of her carpets for the catwalk of his Spring/Summer 2015 womenswear collection. The runway show mimicked a dreamlike woodland, otolaryngologist inspired by Ophelia, tuberculosis a painting by John Everett Millais, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Kehayoglou’s forest floor carpet perfectly set the scene, complimenting the collection and making it one of the most memorable of the season.

Dries Van Noten S/S 2015, Photo: EPA
Dries Van Noten S/S 2015, Photo: EPA

Kehayoglou is a Buenos Aires based artist, who positions her work as functional fine art. She makes sculptural tapestries inspired by the landscape of the Argentine pampas, merging her classical arts training with centuries-old Ottoman rug craft techniques passed down through her family for generations. Her grandparents emigrated from Greece to Argentina in the 1920s, starting a carpet making business called El Espartano, which went on to become one of South America’s largest.

Continue reading “Artist Profile: Alexandra Kehayoglou”

Weaving an Heirloom: Romance and Reality

The Canadian Crafts Federation in partnership with the PEI Crafts Council hosted the 3rd Annual National Craft Symposium, for sale
titled “Heirloom”. Part of the PEI2014 cultural celebrations, ask the Symposium featured speakers from the craft field discussing the merits, shop
the history, and the contemporary aspects of heirloom objects. This talk features our special guest speaker, Jane Kidd, a tapestry artist and retired arts educator now living on Salt Spring island in British Columbia.

Congratulations Christine Thomson

For this English class with Derek I have really being trying to push my poetry within my practice. I have been trying to make successful artwork that integrates my poetry with my hand drawn imagery. Derek has shown us so many great examples of Canadian poetry in this course that is contemporary and different than any poetry I had read before. It pushed me to re-think my own writing process and think about what I would like the reader of my poetry to understand. I have been juxtaposing my poetry with my simple hand drawn images of banal everyday objects that are not normally important objects to remember. I try to sift through my memories and pull out the fragmented pieces within my writing of an experience that is now broken. I also want my hand drawn imagery to be pathetic and feel like although these objects are banal that they are still important and can reference people, health care places and time.

Both of these pieces seen above are in response to books of poetry that Derek showed to us in his course. Boat Ride is in response to the book Testament by Dennis Lee which is about the apocalypse. For this artwork I wanted to explore a time in my childhood when I felt like I was going to die on a boat ride I went on when I was about 3. My own personal apocalypse. We were at my family cabin and decided to go boating on the lake nearby and we had way too many people in our boat. I remember vividly being forced to go on the boat even though I didn’t want to because my parents weren’t going to be on the boat with me. Eventually . . . the boat started to fill up with water and then we were all in the middle of the lake with floatation devices waiting for another boat to rescue us and take us back to shore. Although it sounds like I remember a lot from this time all of this is somewhat fragmented and I only remember bits and pieces of it. I wanted to capture my feelings in this memory with my poetry and juxtapose it with an image of a boat key.

My second piece Garage Light was in response to a book called Decomp by Stephen Collis and Jordan Scott which is about letting Darwin’s book about evolution decay in nature and what the authors were left with to create poetry from. They both wanted nature to read the 5 books they left in different climates all over British Columbia. After reading this book I had thoughts about my interest in objects decaying and falling apart. I’ve always been a big fan of rusting and rust dyeing so I thought it would be a good time to bring this interest back into my practice. Garage Light is about the house I grew up in when I was a child and how it is very much so falling apart and decomposing. My parents did a lot of renovations on this house that we no longer live in and when I go back to visit it many of these past renovations are still there. I thought it would be interesting to put together an image of our garage light falling apart and rusting with poetry from what I remember most while my parents were going through renovations. This was mostly my brother and I getting told off for doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing at the time.

Titling my artwork has been another important aspect to my work lately because I feel that if I am not choosing the right titles people will not understand why the writing and the imagery go together. I am still trying to fine tune this body of work and will continue to do so throughout my time in Derek’s class.


-Vaughan McMillan

Recent Fibre graduate Christine Thomson has won the American Tapestry Alliance Award. Congratulations Christine!

Since 2011 there have been three winners of the ATA award from ACAD including Christine, melanoma
Sabrina Niebler and Rachel Betts-Wilmott.

Weaving in Iceland

While in Iceland I had the priviledge of visiting a local textile artist, viagra 100mg Ragnheidur Thorsdottir, order in her studio.  Ragnheidur is currently working on a comprehensive book about traditional Icelandic weaving techniques, ailment something that currently doesn’t exist.

(the website is a work in progress as all her time has gone into writing the book so it doesn’t include a lot of current work as of July 2014)


This image is a piece she had laying on a table and, as with most things, it is so much better in person.  The technique is a pile weave with uncombed rovings from Icelandic sheep, traditional method that Viking settlers used to create winter wear, specifically cloaks, I assume because it was more economical than using the hide.  The pattern is actually a map of iceland, the light brown being land and the white represents the major glaciers.  The most facsinting thing about this weaving is that Ragnheidur actually built a warp weighted loom to create a historically accurate weaving experience. At the bottom of the image you can the weights she used.

Land of sheep, old pile weave technique, 135 x 120 cm, 2012, Icelandic wool, woven on old warp weighted loom


I had already almost finished my project when I met Ragnheidur Thorsdottir, otherwise I would have tried out some of the techniques I saw in her studio.   What I did was more organically inspired by the landscape of Iceland and I used undyed wool from Icelandic sheep, which along with knitting books and needles, can be purchased almost anywhere for a very reasonable price.

I took a lot of photographs of landscape while I was travelling around Iceland, with the intention of using them later in paintings, which I didn’t have the resources to finish at the textile centre. You can not be an artist in Iceland and not have the landscape influence the work you produce; it’s unyielding presence is impossible to avoid and it ended up influencing the pattern I created for my weaving.



I will be going more in depth about my experiences in Iceland and at Textílsetur Íslands on Monday at 1 in the slide room.  See post below

Textìlsetur Island Residency | My Summer 2014

This evening, pfizer after finishing soldering parts today, recipe and working on the larger housing for these electronic components, viagra I did a final test of the work. When I plugged in the power I had the voltage set at 6V, which is much too high voltage for this tiny chip. When I put too much voltage through something that can’t handle it, I fried everything. This is the kind of thing that happens when you are not thinking clearly, from being too tired, from working on the same thing too long, or from many other things related to the end of the semester.

Maybe it’s simply because I am an amateur still and I am learning things the hard way. Needless to say, lesson learned.

RIP little guy.

Dead little speaker, dead little chip, dead little microphone, dead little chip, dead little sensor. Massacre.
Dead little speaker, dead little chip, dead little microphone, dead little chip, dead little sensor. Massacre.



As a few of you may already know, discount
I will be spending June, July and August of 2014 on residency at the Icelandic Textile Centre in Blönduòs, Iceland. The residency is uniquely for textile artists, and I highly recommend all of you apply. Facilities include:

Weaving Rooms: They have looms of two differents sizes: 80 and 140cm. They are 4, 6 or 8 shafts Counter-balanced. Residents have full access to weaving equipment: large selection of reeds, warping reel, distaff holders, shuttles, yarn reels etc.

Dyeing Rooms: It is a full scale natural dyeing room.  Provided with a small movable oven, dyeing tools, the same large sink and a drying space which is well divided. Iceland produces is known for its various dyestuffs, such as lychens of various colors, plants and flowers.

The Summer Festival is what I will be there for, and what I am most interested in. Summer Festival is where the artists of the residency, and surrounding area, make large scale (and small scale) outdoor installation works to celebrate the season, daylight and community. Expressing the passing of time, the changing of seasons, and the interaction between peoples through outdoor installation. I want to be part of this festival for the rest of my life, this is what I live for.

Here is a quote from the  2013 Summer Festival at the Textílsetúr Island Icelandic Textile Centre:

We are gleaners.

Our language relies on materiality;
Rusted industrial scraps, seaweed, wool, old sheets, jumpsuits;
Borrowed and re-interpreted milliner techniques.
We’re discovering points of reflection that hint towards metaphysical meaning.
Some say there is an inherent biological tendency for equilibrium.
One is to leave a skin of time, their pieces of vulnerability stripped by weathering and human treatments.

We are what we touch- smell, see, hear, taste.

There is a clarity, a peacefulness on the mountain, it effects your whole being. We become this mountain, this stillness, this landscape.
The elements vibrate through us, her wind rippling taut green strings on rusted forms.
A wave of modulation surfs until it breaks, and all you see is a framed landscape – the sun atop the ocean.

2013 Summer Festival

This is where I am meant to be.

Here is the link the website where you can find out more about the residency, and more about how to apply.



Dissolution and Despair! Defeat and Disaster!

I am borrowing these wonderful quotes from Edward Gorey’s “The Inanimate Tragedy” to illustrate just how frustrating mistakes in a time-based practice can be. I have been set back at least a couple of full days of work by my mistake at the tapestry loom. Death and Distraction!

Can you see the mistake?
Can you see the mistake?

I prepped the cartoon for my next tapestry to be the final triptych of the my commentary and reflection on the BSE issue. I am interested in contemplating issues in the food industry: the loss of many healthy innocent animals, hygiene the toll it takes on the stewards and farmers of the herds,and also on the health issues of humans who ingest infected animals, resulting in the degenerative, and inevitably fatal, Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.

To set up and prepare for tapestry is only a small part of the time investment involved, but it does take time. And time at this point in the semester is not what we are privileged to have. I began weaving yesterday after drawing the cartoon, procuring the wools, getting the colour palette sorted. After weaving for three hours for the hem and the beginning of the image, I rotated the beam to allow for more space to weave. Sadly, at 7:00 last night, I learned that I couldn’t make a shed with the limited amount of warp left to me. It would open, but not easily enough to weave with any ease to pass the bobbins and your hand in.

New Warp at 9:30 last night.
New Warp at 9:30 last night.

I made the drastic but necessary decision to stop weaving, cut off the two completed tapestries and start again for my third. The lesson learned? Warp is cheap, but time is not. Always put on more warp than you ever think you may need. Of course, I did think it might be a good time to rethink the size and scale of #3, but as it is part of a series I feel that I just have to push on and complete this. Intravenous black coffee might help. Taking (dark) chocolate donations as consolation- anything to stop myself from jumping into the “Yawning Chasm” (Gorey).

The two completed tapestries off loom.
The two completed tapestries off loom.

-Christine Thomson


Work in Progress

Subject matter for this term’s work is bending toward a commentary on man’s inability to accept nature as it stands, generic and his constant search to improve, medical make ” cost effective” , or to alter his landscape. I am interested in the food that we put into our bodies, and the related affected health of the land. Having always been an “organic” gardener, and being aware of the ethical treatment of animals, my interest is heightened when I find that man’s meddling kicks him back in the face. The new piece that I am developing in my own “slow art” movement is based on BSE and Creutzfeldt- Jacob Disease.

The cartoon and inspiration on the loom.
The cartoon and inspiration on the loom.



The feeding of carnivorous material ( namely other animal parts: scrapie infected sheep brains and bones for example) to a herbivorous ruminant such as a cow is bound to have disastrous effects, as we have witnessed with the cross infection in humans from eating infected cattle. As a result of this scare ( which is ongoing, as new cases are diagnosed constantly), many healthy as well as diseased cattle were and are being terminated in a huge large scale slaughter, which changes and alters the landscape of the countries affected. The images are visually disturbing on many accounts, not the least of which is the awareness that the carcasses of the cattle and sheep destroyed also destroy many a small farmer’s livelihood. Our actions have reactions.


wool window

I have hand dyed the variegated wool for the tapestry. Tapestry wool is a thinner two ply crewel style yarn that is getting increasingly hard to source. ( Karen King at Aubusson House still carries it). However, I like the play of colour that one can custom dye, and this tapestry calls for an almost watercolour like palette.

edited orangecorrected purple

hipsto purple

As with all slow art work, I will have time to think while weaving about the effects of our meddling with the animal and plant world; spider silk in medicine, genetically modified food, the vegetables that we are importing from China which are irradiated before entering the country. I think we all need to be aware of what we put into our bodies and from where it came; the source and the sustainability of what we eat.

– Christine Thomson


Nezhnie: Images of the Holocaust

Muriel Nezhnie Helfman: Images of the Holocaust 1979-1989

Muriel Nezhnie. Daughters of the Earth, <a href=
order 81" x 53". 1981″ src=”http://fibre.acadnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/NezhnieDaughtersofEarth3-copy-159×240.jpg” width=”159″ height=”240″ /> Muriel Nezhnie. Daughters of the Earth, 81″ x 53″. 1981

Informing the content and direction of my tapestry practice is an artist who wove a beautiful series of Holocaust imagery from 1979-1989. The series is called Images of the Holocaust, and were inspired by Muriel Nezhnie Helfman’s research into war images of the Second World War. She was a child of Russian Jewish parents, raised in the States, with a formal training in art. Stationed in Europe at one point in her adult life, she took up tapestry (  by some accounts stating that pursuing  a “formal” art education  was distressing her husband, himself a painter.)

Muriel Nezhnie. Ghetto Child- Stroop Report, 60" x 48", 1982
Muriel Nezhnie. Ghetto Child- Stroop Report, 60″ x 48″, 1982

Using photographs of the brutality of the Nazi regime, she tried to find a balance of memory and redemption. She felt that including text into her tapestries allowed the viewer a deeper awareness and entree into the content of her work.

“Perhaps art is the only expression that can keep the vision (of the Holocaust) horrible as it is, alive in a positive and constructive way.”
Letter from the late Muriel Nezhnie to Elie Wiesel

In the book, A Mission in Art: Recent Holocaust Works in America, Vivian Alpert Thompson defines Nezhnie as an “empathizer”: “The empathy of the artists who are not survivors is at times so deep that some of them have taken on characteristics normally attributable to survivors…” and, like for survivors, “the creation of these works is not cathartic for the artist… likely because the conditions of evil that their art warns against still exist.”

Muriel Nezhnie. Pogrom. 64" x 48". 1989
Muriel Nezhnie. Pogrom. 64″ x 48″. 1989

I find a sympathy with those words as I try to weave my imagery, especially the more poignant shoe series. It is not about “ownership” of an event, but rather the empathy that is elicited when one is confronted by the images of horror and survival, and an awareness to be vigilant to human rights abuse.

Christine Thomson. Untermensch. 12" x 12", Wool and cotton tapestry. 2012
Christine Thomson. Untermensch. 12″ x 12″, Wool and cotton tapestry. 2012

All images of Nezhnie from Creative Commons, with permission by her husband Sheldon Helfman. 

Christine Thomson

Denver Art Museum Exhibits

 Sadly for ACAD Fibre students, website like this there are only three days left to see the amazing exhibits at the Denver Art Museum. The chances of us getting down there are next to none, so I wanted to draw attention to the textile related work that is being supported at the DAM. There has been much funding to this illustrious museum: most recently a 1.75 million gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that continues the transformation of the museum textile’s department. They have hired a textile art curator, as well as textile conservators. They also offered a fellowship for employment and training in textile conservation. This introduction to a museum that supports both historical and contemporary textile work brings me to the two outstanding exhibits on now:  Spun: Adventures in Textiles, and Nick Cave: Sojourn.

hero-spun Spun: Adventures in Textiles has been segmented into different topics. The Denver Art Museum takes a wide-ranging look at textiles from pre-Columbian weavings to Navajo blankets to an examination of clothing in art and photography in the campus-wide exhibition. The curators have included such exhibits as Cover Story, a collection of over 50 textile pieces from the collection at the DAM. “Cover Story explores the myriad ways that textiles envelop, embellish, and enrich human lives across centuries, continents, and cultures.” (DAM)

Tapestry designed by Stefan Galkowski (1912-1984) manufactured by Wanda Cooperative, Cracow, Poland, 1961. Wool and Linen Tapestry.  DAM Textile Collection
Tapestry designed by Stefan Galkowski (1912-1984) manufactured by Wanda Cooperative, Cracow, Poland, 1961. Wool and Linen Tapestry. DAM Textile Collection



Sojourn -Nick Cave Anschutz Gallery Hamilton Bldg Curated by William Morrow,Nick Cave and Bob Faust

hero-CAVE3Nick Cave: Sojourn is also being exhibited at the museum. Nick Cave has long been a huge influence on my work. He is an American artist, with a wide ranging multi-disciplinary practice. He is a dancer, sculptor, fibre artist and performance artist, perhaps best know for his “soundscape suits”. The link provided to the exhibit takes you on a brief tour with Nick Cave, and allows the viewer to experience briefly the impact and intricacy of his work.

Nick Cave’s Work at the DAM

(All images from DAM website)

Additional information on this exhibit and the textile conservation work being done can be resourced from “Spin-off”‘ Magazine’s Summer 2013 Article on the Denver Art Museum.

– Christine Thomson

Museum of Craft and Folk Art (San Francisco) closed its doors November 2012!

I guess others have heard the bad news for Craft in the Northern California area, prostate ( and I think by extension for Craft in North America), drug but it was news to me. While searching the archives of the Museum of Craft and Folk Art for an exhibit I saw there in 2000 (Gugger Petter’s newspaper weavings) I learned of the demise of the Museum. A quick overview of their archives reveal the contribution that they made in exhibiting craft artists like Kay Sekimachi, price Pat Hickman, to such precise displays like Hand Bookbinders of California, Jewish Papercuts, Rags to Riches: Japanese Rural Rugweavers. The list of exhibits is exhaustive and available at their archived website (www.mocfa.org).

I saw an exhibit there in 2000 that resonated with me – not so much for the subject matter but for her technique. Gugger Petter is a Danish American artist who has woven with newspaper for over 20 years. She prefers the limited palette of newsprint, and makes use of both the flyers for colour and the text for background and relief texture.

Her canvases are large, some 72″ x 89″, and she allows for the nature of the eccentric weaving to be exposed. Hers is a radical and vibrant style of weaving, and I think this is what attracts me to her. They are large tapestries of everyday street life and barking dogs, or portraits of friends.

The street scenes are some of her older work, and have more character and story than the portraits. Regardless, she is an engaged weaver that takes a few chances with her medium, which makes her work worth contemplating.

You can see her work at the gallery which represents her: www.jsauergallery.com/sagemoon/artistPages/GPetter.html, or just google Gugger Petter.

Also interesting to note the prices that the weavings are listed for,  something that we emerging weavers need to learn about and take note of.

So back to the MOCFA’s sad news – they felt that they couldn’t keep the doors open in the financial climate in the States right now. Due to drastic cuts to arts funding, the beautiful gallery on Yerba Buena Lane which did so much to promote craft and educate is silent.


– Christine Thomson

Weaving as Metaphor

Kay Sekimachi is a weaver who lives and works in California. Her work is described as “about ‘idea’ in its original Greek sense of ‘form’.” (Koumis 18) Her weavings have a simple precision that belies the complexity of weave structure that is required to create much of her work. Sekimachi’s weavings are objects which poetically express the language of line, capsule surface and dimensional form (Koumis 17).

She is a Japanese-American who took up weaving when she saw weavers while in an internment camp in her youth. She went on to be influenced by Anni Albers and studied under Trude Guermonprez.

Sekimachi is best known for her multi-layered weavings. In the 1960s she experimented with nylon monofilament, then a new material, to create translucent hanging sculptures whose layers unfold off the loom to create objects “Spectral and serene, crisp and softly cascading…as much an interplay of air and inspiration as a reflection of her remarkable innovation in weaving structures…” (Koumis 12).

Nagare III, 1968
nylon monofilament 4-layered weave, tubular weave
87 x 15 inches
Amiyose, 1965
nylon monofilament, 4-layered weave, tubular weave
60 x 12 x 12 inches

Sekimachi also used double weaves to create woven books and boxes; unexpected forms for handwoven cloth.

Portfolio Collection: Kay Sekimachi
100 Views of Fuji, 1981
Linen, double weave, transfer print on warp
4.5 x 4 x 20 inches when open

If you are interested in seeing and reading more about Kay Sekimachi and her work, our library has a great book pictured above.

-Andrew Penner

Koumis, Matthew. ed. Portfolio Collection: Kay Sekimachi. Bristol: Telos Art Publishing, 2003. Print.
I was recently once again looking through a beautiful book on Sheila Hicks, medical Weaving as Metaphor.

Stritzler-Levine, clinic
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Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor. New York: Yale University Press, 2006. Print.

This book not only contains a number of beautiful small weavings from Hicks which she wove throughout her life, but it also contains some interesting writing on weaving. The one essay that particularly fascinated me was the title work by Arthur C. Danto. His aim was to write about the meaning of textiles and weaving beginning not from a culture distant from our Western context, but from the Greeks, whose culture and thought our own civilization is descended from. Danto goes on to talk about how Plato, who had a decidedly negative view of the fine arts, in his writing about statecraft drew on weaving as the ideal metaphor for how government should function. The use of weaving as such a metaphor suggests a higher view of weaving for the ancient Greeks than we might have thought, one that praises weaving for its practical and philosophical value. This has interesting connotations for the way we now write and talk about weaving, in a time when industrial weaving has set a cognative barrier between us and the process of weaving (Danto 33).

Plato saw weaving as a more valid art form because it did not seek to imitate or copy an external reality, it had originality and beauty in how it combined two often diverse materials into one unified whole.


-Andrew Penner