Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A Winning Weaving Combo

A Winning Weaving Combo
By: Joan Beswick 
Enthusiasm and energy – the vibes were great in the side room at festival headquarters when Patty Chasse, consummate fibre artist and weaving instructor, introduced me to her star pupil, Jane Jorgensen. Patty is an accomplished weaver who makes fine silk and bamboo scarves and shawls, table linens, towels and other items for the home. She creates all her own designs and is a juried member of the New Brunswick Craft Council, a member of the Atlantic Spinners and Handweavers and the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners. She is also the representative for the Maritimes for both the Handweavers Guild of America and Complex Weavers.

Jane is a nurse who is looking forward to having more time for fibre arts in her upcoming retirement. She is a talented fibre artist who spins and knits and creates comfy and colourful fibre works.

According to Patty, Jane has ‘good hands’, a compliment indeed coming from her accomplished instructor. When I visited, Jane had completed the initial teacher-planned project, and moved on to more ambitious weaving on a four-harness teaching loom, an instrument similar to a loom she has at home. 

Jane attributed her success to Patty’s calm manner, expert knowledge, and the excellent instructional book she created for the class. This book described different types of looms, demonstrated threading and repairing, and offered ‘point by point’ instructions on the process of weaving. 

To this author - a total novice without ‘good hands’ - weaving has always seemed intimidating, both because of the complexity of the skill and the intricacy of the machinery. Jane’s experience suggests that Patty may just be the person to dispel that notion – a skilled weaver who loves her craft and takes great joy in sharing it with others. 

At the 2012 festival, Patti and Jane formed a winning weaving combo and we look forward to seeing them again at the 2013 festival. We also highly recommend a visit to Patty’s studio in Wood Point, N.B.  On Saturday, October 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, she will be hosting a ‘Luxury Handwovens Studio Tour’. Those who went last year say it was also a winning weaving combo - the natural beauty of the  setting and Patty’s fabulous fibre artistry – a ‘must do’ for festival goers whatever their craft!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fibre Artistry at The People's Place

Fibre Artistry at The People's Place
By Joan Beswick

The Antigonish Town and County Library houses diverse treasures, those typically associated with modern libraries - print and audio books, videos and DVD’s, magazines and newspapers, computers and classes – and of course, knowledgeable and helpful staff. However, while visiting today, I realized why it is also called ‘the people’s place’ – it is a community centre filled with the works of regional artists and artisans whose creations, both functional and decorative, enliven the space. A walking guide describing these works and their creators is available on-line at

Being a blogger for the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival, I was delighted to find that the library is also a very ‘fibre friendly’ place. 
There is functional fibre artistry –

Fenn Martin’s Sculpted Ceramic Tiles Fireplace Surround

Wooden Study Carrels by Keith Grant

Tables from locally sourced Birds Eye Maple by MacLean Bros. Woodworking.

And there is decorative fibre artistry such as the Heart Quilt exhibited by the Highland Quilt Guild.

A guild member, Dorinda McCully, told me the guild held a celebratory quilt show at the Coady International Institute in July, 2012. The heart is the symbol of their guild and it was their tenth anniversary, hence this very special quilt with creations from members whose names are printed on the chart below showing their individual contributions.

This quilt is a fine piece of decorative fibre art – its beauty is in the thoughtfulness and detail of the individual pieces as well as the enjoyment engendered in those who stop to gaze. 

Saul Bellow once described art as “an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction”. Today, the art at the Antigonish Town and County Library arrested my wandering attention. There were so many worthy creations, only a few of which are mentioned here. On this brief visit, I took particular pleasure in the fibre artistry of Fenn Martin, Keith Grant, and the Highland Quilt Guild. To see the work of those and other regional artists and artisans, stop by the Antigonish Town and County Library or visit on-line at

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Versatile Fibre Artist
and Her 'Grand Grad Trip'
By: Joan Beswick
Fibre artists come in many varieties, or as they say in the old Newfoundland song, in ‘all sizes and figures’, and many of them are as versatile in what they produce as they are variable in their personnas. And Carol Oram is one such versatile fibre artist.
Knitting is Carol’s passion these days. She offered a beginning knitting course at the 2012 festival, and will offer it again at the 2013 festival.

However, knitting is only one of the fibre arts Carol does so well. Over the years, she has made  wonderful rope wreaths

beautiful baskets,

fabulous felted bags,

unique hooked mats and decorative pieces,  

and all manner of one-of-a-kind clothing from recycled materials. She has also designed and created quilts for her family, the most recent being a beach-themed quilt for her four-year old grandchild, Libby.

Although Carol’s fibre artistry is amazing, it doesn’t define her – she also involves herself in many community activities, dotes on her three children and four grandchildren, and continues to pursue formal education. In May of this year, Carol will graduate from Mount Allison University with a B.Sc. in Psychology, an accomplishment that will complement her previous degrees in arts and education, and serve as testimony to her commitment to life long learning. And to celebrate, Carol plans to do a ‘grad trip’, except in this case, it will be a ‘grand grad trip’ because she’ll be travelling to Cuba with her two granddaughters – 20 year old Mackenzie who is graduating from the pastry chef course at George Brown College in Toronto, and 17 year old Katarina, who is graduating from Three Oaks High School in Summerside, P.E.I.

What better way to celebrate these milestones than to make memories together, and since it is February , to do so amidst sun, sand, and soft breezes! Our congratulations to Carol and her granddaughters – may you travel well, enjoy fully, return safely – and find new inspiration for continued creativity and life long learning!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Festival 2012: 'Hook-In' and 'History of Hooked Rugs'

Festival 2012:  ‘Hook-in’ 
‘History of Hooked Rugs’

By: Joan Beswick

In every organization, on every committee, there are a few individuals who go the extra mile. Their enthusiasm is infectious, their energy boundless, and no task is too formidable. The Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival has the good fortune of having such people among their committee members. This past fall, two of these committee members, Lynn O’Brien-Lines and Dianne Bacon, contributed to the organization of a ‘hook-in’ for the last day of the Festival. 
Lynn O'Brien-Lines
Dianne Bacon

In addition to bringing almost a hundred ‘hookers’ together for creative socialization, 

and providing an opportunity to exhibit their wares,

this ‘hook-in’ featured a ‘history of hooked rugs’.  To bring this exhibit to fruition, Lynn and Dianne scoured the region, followed up on stories they’d heard from fellow artisans who hooked together during the year, and made numerous contacts with people they’d never met. The resulting exhibit contained antique rugs, story mats (some with their own histories), hooked portraits, old rug hooking books, vintage patterns, and a collection of antique hooks.

Antique Hooked Rug

Story Mat
Hooked Portrait
Old Rug Hooking Books

Vintage Patterns
Collection of Antique Hooks
William Blake described energy as ‘eternal delight’  - the energy donated by Lynn and Dianne in bringing together this exhibit certainly brought delight to many – and it vibrantly illustrated the historical duality of rug hooking, a craft of necessity to warm cold floors and an art form to chronicle the lives of its makers.

The 'history of hooked rugs' exhibit was a highlight of Festival 2012 ... thanks to all who contributed .... and special kudos to Lynn and Dianne for their inspiration and ‘energy’ in bringing it all together!