Category Archives: textile art

The Bones Illustrated 6

Caskets on the Loose by Laura Wythe

Dolsen suggested viewing the river from the bridge that remained on Highway 2. They might see a solution by looking downstream. 
“When we got there,” Thomas told Catherine, “there was already a crowd and they were looking upstream. A mass of crate-like objects was bobbing in the water and coming our way.
“‘Munitions on the loose!’ Crudge said.
“‘Caskets,’ a bystander whispered. ‘A sign of the Rapture.’”
“I warned you that they believed in it,” Catherine said. “They keep calling me for advice.”
“Do you believe?”
“Only that if they keep pressing their wool suits, the glare from the shine will blind St. Peter. They must remember to use a cloth between the fabric and the iron.”
“They really have their best clothes out, ready to go?”
“Enough of them.”
“If I stay here much longer, I might hope for the same escape.”
“As long as you brought your best suit.”
“In any case, it was true. The coffins were in amazingly good shape, swollen with the rain, quite buoyant on the river. Frank Dolsen pointed out the masses of drowned earthworms, like small islands, and the air was thick with gulls.”

The Bones, Wooing, Chapter 10
Laura Wythe
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The Bones Illustrated 5

Rebecca, the Last Galloway by Laura Wythe

Her back would ache from holding the oar steady as a rudder in the rough waters. Tears streamed down her face and she did not care to wipe them. With her shoulders thrown back, Rebecca opened her soul to the river, shouting out the song that had rolled over her all the long winter.
Over the tree-tops I float thee a song!
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves
 and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!
 
She was the last one living the frontier life, and it was her duty to carry the past forward as her parents, and theirs, and theirs had.

The Bones, Wooing, Chapter 2
by Laura Wythe
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The Bones Illustrated 4

Witness to Purity by Laura Wythe

The land settled out into the flat seabed, about 200 metres above sea level and gradually sloping away. The highway sat just enough above the water to make it seem like she was floating. Houses and barns looked like islands in the distance. A thin umbilical line to follow home, a lifeline between water and sky. The grey orb of the sun, pale and far to the west, was searching for an opening in the clouds, electrifying the edges with light. Would the sun touch the earth again?
It did break through. Catherine gasped at the beauty, and as though embarrassed by her reaction, the sun quickly pulled back. It had not been expecting a witness to such purity. She was the only traveller on the road.

The Bones, Lovers, Chapter 6
By Laura Wythe

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The Bones Illustrated 2

Tecumseh Fell Here by Laura Wythe

Let all the land be flooded, let everything be drowned, but not this one hope that in her lifetime she would find the hero who’d died in the field beside her farm. Ever since she could remember, the rumours of the whereabouts of his bones floated up and down the settlements along the Thames watershed. She had to be the one to find them.

The Bones, Lovers, Chapter 2
by Laura Wythe
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The Bones Illustrated 1

Stricken City
Stricken City by Laura Wythe

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On New Year’s Eve, a deluge dropped into the subway line at Union Station, rupturing it along the waterfront. The electric power surged and the deaths were swift. Party goers floated to the surface. Lake Ontario had breached the base of Toronto and muscled its way into the underground maze of concourses that linked high rising towers in the business district. Engineers tried to pump the water out but the lake shoreline, formerly at 76.5 metres above sea level, rose by 15 metres and currently lapped along the length Queen Street West. The city’s core stability was lost. Towers rocked like old frigates abandoned at sea. They crumbled. The city was disrupted beyond repair; the true exodus of power began. Bay Street would rebuild in Winnipeg, of all places, leaving the lower concourses to run like sewers.

The Bones, Lovers, Chapter 2
by Laura Wythe


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The Bones Illustrated

For the next while, I am posting the illustrations for my climate change novel, The Bones. The book is launched and the illustrations have been exhibited. Getting the right format for an illustrated version is my next challenge. In the meantime, enjoy the short excerpts along with the illustrations.

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Text to Textiles

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I thought I’d be writing a lot more about the process for making this collection of illustrations/fibre artworks. It’s not that I haven’t been documenting the progress. But for now, I’m pleased to have the work hanging all together, and I look forward very much to hearing feedback. The next few months will be a time of closure and reflection on a project that’s taken up a lot of space for the last 3 years. 

Here’s the blurb about the exhibit. The best is last: the artwork is posted below the blurb.

Text to Textile is a exhibition of fibre art illustrations based on the novel, The Bones, by Laura Wythe.

Text to Textile runs from April 3rd to April 28th  in the Sifton Room at the Masonville Branch Library, 30 North Centre Road, London ON, Canada.

The show opens on Saturday April 7th from 1-4 PM with readings from the novel by author and artist Laura Wythe.

Each image in Text to Textile is translated from the text onto silk, table linens or canvas, and carries an aspect of a character in the novel.

The artist infuses various embroidery traditions with a new point of view, highlighting the fragility of cloth and life, borrowing from news stories of local and global flooding to show the precarious hold we have on the land.

The illustrations are mounted as a conservationist might; fragments are carefully stitched onto linen stretched onto acid-free boards. Each illustration is accompanied by a text from the story. The process of creating the illustrations is also highlighted.

Laura is a teacher, artist, writer and long-time environmental activist. Three times her plays about community and the environment were chosen for the Grand Theatre’s Playwright’s Cabaret. She has studied Fashion Design at Ryerson and has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Guelph. She is a member of the Canadian Embroiderers Guild, and lives and works in London Ontario.

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Stitched Illustration

I’ve always sewn clothes, made pictures, sculptures–tactile, physical objects that I could share with others pretty easily.

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The lakeshore, formerly at 76.5 metres above sea level had risen by 15 metres and was lapping at Queen Street West. From The Bones, Chapter 2, by Laura Wythe

For a number of reasons, writing has become a great creative and personal outlet for me.  But how to show and share words? Contests, blogging, writing plays and joining writing groups have worked for short fiction.

Recently I finished a novel, inspired in part by a street in Wortley Village. Tecumseh Avenue is the only native name among so many traditional English names. It took a lot of research to find out the story behind the name, and I used the presence of this First Nation man in The Bones.

The main character is Catherine Blackwood, the textile curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She grew up on a farm next to the battlefield north of Chatham where Tecumseh died in the War of 1812. She heads back to the farm, now in Flood Zone 4, obsessed with making one last search for Tecumseh’s bones. (I’ll blog more about the Tecumseh story.)

I’m used to showing and telling what I’ve been up to. The logical thing — for me — was to make a series of illustrations and launch a book with pictures! Catherine, the textile curator, came to mind as having the perfect point of view for the illustrations.

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gathering materials for The Bones Laura Wythe

For more than 2 years, I have collected textiles–table linens, threads, and other bits and embellishments. I have pored over maps and charted the travels of the characters through a flood ravaged land. I have joined London branch of the Canadian Embroiderer’s Guild to bone up on my stitching techniques.

I have 4 months left to finish the illustrations, and literally thousands of stitches to go.

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Colours of the Garden: colour wrapping

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thread wrapped basket/Laura Wythe

Many of the fibre artists I meet dye their threads to make their own pallet. I haven’t tried it, except the once when I sank a skein of pearl cotton into a brew of black walnut juice.

In the cold of winter, I went to a workshop led by Nancy Latchford. She’s a fibre artist who specializes in baskets, and her baskets are amazing in size and range. We met in a workroom in the Jonathon Snell-Bancroft Gallery where we had a view of Nancy’s fibre-based work, as well as many, many amazing ceramic pieces.

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Base of basket by Laura Wythe

We started making our little baskets, first wrapping a washer for the base, then wrapping more threads over a cotton and wire core to make our coils. I’ve made slippery coils for clay for pots before, but this was new, and quite a challenge to juggle the pieces.

A huge part of the project was to choose the colours, or in my case, let the colours choose me. There was a boardroom-size table before us filled with hand-dyed cotton thread of all colours and tints. Impossible to include them all, but I tried. Red is always my favourite, but then violet, purple, orange, yellow, greens and blues took up the bulk of the project. In the dead of winter, I was thinking about June gardens.

The wrapping technique was new to me. You choose 2 or 3 colours and wrap them together around the core materials. It’s blending colours, and then as Nancy pointed out, they become further blended when the coils are bound together with yet more blends.

The basket is still a work in progress, palm-sized. The gardens, however, are in full bloom.

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Thread-wrapped basket in progress, Laura Wythe

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Joy of colour

It’s been a grey monotone winter, and I’ve been working on a large project with a theme of rain. More greys and damp and sombreness. Every now and again, there’s a tiny break in the grey blanket of sky, shadows, even a bit of blue. It doesn’t matter if it’s morning or night, it’s all a progression of grey.

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Detail of Sari Splendor square by Laura Wythe

Into the grey came a workshop called Indian Splendor led by Donna Funnel, hosted by the London branch of the Canadian Embroiders Guild. Step by step we were led to a guarantee of colour harmony and wonder. It really is important to trust the instructor, especially when they say, choose your colours, any colours will work.

Sari ribbon is a new material for me, and of course, the ribbons came in brilliant colours and textures. Donna also had some sari silk yarn that matched the silks but brought another layer of texture when all was done. We created a base with the ribbons, then cut and embellished. Of course, I bling-ed my project up with shiny yarns, sequins and beads–and some variegated silk thread.

So, here’s the finished project.

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Full size Sari Splendor square by Laura Wythe

Donna has used the squares in an entirely different way to create a stunningly detailed wall hanging. Simple structure, amazing results.

What a riot of colour for a dull winter’s day.

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