Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Studio Series: black & white collage II

Black & White collage II © Karen Thiessen, 2016
The studio is a happening place these days: I seem to have cultivated a new rhythm, a new sense of being alive in my work process. It is all thanks to the six weeks of classes that I took at my local indie fabric shop where I learned how to sew a dress, a flowering snowball pillow, and a pair of leggings. These were all personal projects that took time away from my regular studio work, but this investment of time has paid off in spades. First of all, I am now hyper-aware of clothing construction: of seams, lines, darts, shapes. As a result, I now see that my work could eventually move into three-dimensions. Second: I have returned to my stitching and collage practice with new energy and awareness.

I just finished reading The Art of Slow Writing (2014) by Louise DeSalvo, a book I highly recommend for any creative, whether or not you are a writer. In one chapter about supporting the work, she shares how Vita Sackville-West encouraged her friend, Virginia Woolf, to take time from her writing practice. "From Sackville-West, Woolf learned to be less obsessive about her art and to take more time for relaxation, travel, and excursions to enrich her work. She subsequently spent time bowling, doing needlepoint, knitting, bread baking, and listening to music (DeSalvo, 108-109)." So, I encourage my dear work-obsessed readers (you know who you are) to try something new and see how this enlivens the work. 

Source: DeSalvo, Louise. The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2014.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Quotes: David Himel

"I'm committed to building a culture of skilled craftspeople, rather than a culture of whatever's cheapest. Once you lose that ability to make things, you're really losing your ability to take care of yourself as a culture. If you don't know how to grow food or make clothing or fix things, how are you going to run your society?" –– David Himel, owner of Himel Brothers Leather, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

*source: Freed, Jeremy. 'The 25-year wardrobe.' The Globe and Mail, Saturday December 5, 2015, p.13

Friday, June 17, 2016

Keith Shearsby Useful Things @ YouMe Gallery 3

Keith Shearsby Useful Things; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Three overall views of the gallery give you a sense of the number of objects, their scale, and how they relate to each other like one useless but photogenic family.
Keith Shearsby Useful Things; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Each object begs to be used or attempted to be used.
Keith Shearsby Useful Things; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Keith Shearsby Hatchet, 2015; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
What would happen first: would you break your wrist or slice open your thigh if you attempted to use Hatchet to cut some kindling for your campfire?
Keith Shearsby Chain Saw, 2015; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
It's clear that Keith Shearsby has been making this series with great care and humour over many years. I look forward to seeing what more he has up his sleeve.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Keith Shearsby Useful Things @ YouMe Gallery 2

Keith Shearsby Broom, 2014; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Broom was another of my favourite pieces in the show. It's an object that I could spend a few years admiring. Sadly, none of the work in Keith Shearsby's March 2016 Useful Things exhibit was available for purchase. Sweeping a floor with Broom could be fun or frustrating, depending on your expectations.
Keith Shearsby Spring Hammer, 2015; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Take a close look of the handle of Spring Hammer. Its grooves and patina indicates that it was used in its previous (useful) life.
Keith Shearsby Cane, 2009; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Cane and Crutches are worthy of performance art. Cane's bell is a nice touch, as are Crutches' hand brakes.
Keith Shearsby Crutches, 2009; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Keith Shearsby Steel Wool Gloves, 2008; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Good luck using Steel Wool Gloves.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Quotes: Finn Juhl

"One cannot create happiness with beautiful objects, but one can spoil quite a lot of happiness with bad ones."  –– Finn Juhl (1912-1989), Danish designer
* source:, Tuesday March 22, 2016