Thursday, 23 February 2012

One UnBeelievable Year

Can you bee-lieve (sorry, had to) that the Beehive Craft Collective has been around for a year already? It's flown by in a blur of meetings and workshops and craft fairs and art installations. Not to mention the fact that many of us are full-time makers and/or entrepreneurs in our day-to-day lives. Needlework, Sweet Ice Snow Cones, Bespoke Uprising, Jenna Rose, White Elephant... sometimes it's exhausting to even think about. But that's also the really great part about a collective - the joint support from everyone involved working towards a common goal. I often think about how honoured I am to be a part of a group of such awe-inspiring and talented women.

We're gearing up for some exciting things this year too. We are super excited to be participating in the Craft and the New Economy symposium on March 10th at OCAD University. We'll be doing a pretty informal presentation on how to start a craft collective within your own community, while also providing materials for a crafting circle. We'll have everything you need to join in making paper piecing hexagons, but everyone is encouraged to bring their own projects as well.

Ever since we saw the Quilts! exhibit at the AGH we've all kind of been obsessed with quilting bees and friendship quilts, and this is where our idea stems from. A collective project while discussing forming collectives. We'll be presenting from 6pm-8pm and we hope to see some of you there. It should be an amazing event all around.

We're also working on our submission to be a part of this year's Supercrawl. All we can really say about it at this point is that it will be another large scale textile installation that has the opportunity for community involvement. Does Jenna's sketch give you any ideas? I didn't think so. The Bees are really hoping to be a part of this for a second year, so cross your fingers for us!

And the question that we've been asked most often lately - will we be putting on another Summer Craft Fair?  Honestly, we're still figuring out the logistics of this, as we've lost our beautiful location from last year (very happily to CBC) and it's caused kind of a snag in our plans. If not a full scale craft show, be sure to look out for some smaller trunk shows throughout the year. Either way, we'll be sure to keep you updated on our plans.

Thanks for following us during our first exciting year! We look forward to what 2012 will bring for us all.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Bee Abroad

In October, I temporarily left the hive to move to London, England, while I study for my master's degree in textiles at Chelsea College of Art & Design. I chose Chelsea because its Textile program has a focus on sustainability, which is becoming an increasingly important aspect of my work, and outlook on life. Chelsea has an unique research centre, TED (Textiles Environment Design) which is part of a larger partnership with Central Saint Martin's called the Textile Futures Research Centre. For anyone interested in textiles in general and sustainability specifically, explore both their websites for volumes of fascinating research and inspiring projects.

My MA project focuses on natural dye printing, something with which I've long wanted to experiment. So much of my own work and teaching involves screenprinting, and as much as I love the beautiful effect of printing with conventional fibre-reactive or acid dyes, I worry about the long term health and environmental effects of all the chemicals involved in the process. I've had a lot of experience using natural dyes for immersion dyeing, some of which we've shared with you here on the Beehive, but little experience with using natural dyes for printing. I had a sense of how they might work for printing, but I'd never really tried to use them.

I thought the perfect way to begin would be to take a workshop at the Maiwa Symposium in Vancouver, which is also something I've always longed to do but could never fit in, as the symposium falls during the fall school term. The workshop at Maiwa gave me the confidence to get going!

Since arriving in London and settling into the studio at Chelsea, I've been experimenting with the colours I can produce using the various natural dye extracts available from different sources. Maiwa, Couleurs des Plantes, Couleur Garance, Earthues and Pure Tinctoria all sell a variety of ready-to-use natural dye extracts from ethical and sustainable sources. The extracts are relatively easy to use as they dissolve in water, but you can also make your own extracts from dried or fresh dyestuffs.

I thicken the extracts with a gum to produce a paste appropriate for screen printing. So far, as I'm only in the early stages of testing, I'm stencilling the print pastes onto mordanted cloth rather than screen printing, which will come later. The colour testing will also involve pushing the range of hues by shifting colours by adding acid, alkaline or other mordants to the colour after it has been applied. What you see here are some of my early samples in progress, which give you an idea of the range of colour you can achieve using all natural colourants, all derived from plant and a few insect sources.

A large part of my investigation is researching the plants that produce dyes, and their chemical, cultural and economic histories. I've been making ink and crayon drawings of these plants from historical herbaria (scrapbooks of preserved dried plant specimens) to develop imagery which I will later use in screen printed patterns.

When I return home, I hope to share my newly gained knowledge with anyone wanting to learn more about these precious and wonderful sources of colour. Read more about my project over the next 6 months as it progresses on my blog, now up and running again after months and months of neglect!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

A New Dress

I'm not totally sure how, but as a mother of three small children I can find time to sew - usually things for the kids. Projects range from clothes, bibs and quilts to dolly diapers and dress-up costumes.

I was recently given a gift from a friend who specifically said that I am always making things for everyone else, so now I can make something for myself. I was so excited to recieve a Colette Pattern, not only to make something for myself, but also because these patterns are simply beautiful to look at and hold. Well printed on good paper in a compact little booklet. The pattern was simple enough for a hobbyist sewer to follow.

The Macaron Dress has what they call a "sweetheart top with a contrasting top yoke." I just call it cute.

I like the pattern so much, I decided to trace it onto freezer paper before cutting it out. This took more time, but I think it was well worth it. Within two days, I had assembled the dress, with a few little distractions.

My favourite part in any dress is finding out it has pockets, so when I noticed the pockets in my pattern I was over the moon. When I finally tried it on, I found it a little tight in the bodice, but letting out the seam allowance fixed it up great.

I am very pleased with this pattern, and I am definitely going to sew it again and again, now I am just searching for the perfect material.

I would highly recommend Colette Patterns, and if you head on over to their website they have a lot of really informative tutorials.

And if you live in the Hamilton area, You can check out Needlework, rumour has it they will be carrying Colette Patterns! Their grand opening is February 10th at the James St. North Art Crawl.