Tag Archives: fibre arts

The Bones Illustrated 12

Drawn into Catherine’s Orbit by Laura Wythe

“His life, it was too short, so short.”  Catherine closed the file, waved it in the air, as if she could conjure him back. He wished she had that magic, to bring back lives just as she brought life back to her artifacts. “He was the dearest soul I know, and never had a chance.” She looked to Thomas, and snuffed with her emotions. Clem and Thomas curled like brackets on either side of her, handing out tissues, murmuring kind words. Under her lashes, she looked his way, and TinTin knew she wasn’t looking for comfort. Like him, she was looking for those bits of Pi that she could carry forward. His work, his life, his thoughts—curated and alive because she bothered, and knew he would too. Shit, he’d finally been drawn into Catherine’s orbit, and from the looks of it, his first job was to rescue her.

“Look,” TinTin said, “you guys are staying for the night, so let’s forget this until the morning. The project is good. I say we order in beer and Chinese food and work our way through the vintage games. Pi would like that.”

Catherine lifted her head. “Vintage games?”

“Yes.”

Thomas laughed out loud. “He means video games.”

“There are vintage video games? I love them already.”

The Bones: Crossing, Chapter 7 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)

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The Bones Illustrated 10

Woven into the Fabric of Chatham County by Laura Wythe

“The town hates me.”

“It would be the same if I went to live with you in Gaza. A newcomer waltzes in and they think she wants a share of the pie she hasn’t earned yet. I will spend my life fitting you into my arms, my heart, my life. But the town has to work you among the many into its fabric until you’re seamless. Only recently has Dad been that pliable, or willing to spend the time.”

“Your parents do realize that the whole area is sunk after the bicentennial.”

“Mom says there’s some kind of programming that makes her return like a spawning salmon and that’s why she won’t give it up easily.”

Clem sighed and pretended to scoop up sunlight by the handsful, let it trickle through her fingers onto the covers.

“The fabric of Catherine’s childhood is unravelling,” TinTin said, sighing, as Clem rubbed her warm hands on his arm. “This social fabric of which you are a thread, would it perhaps be another kind of Net worth studying?”

“I think it’s been studied enough. There’s never been a culture more documented and headstrong than my mother’s.”

The Bones: Crossing, Chapter 7 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)

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The Bones Illustrated 9

Indian Territory, 1774 by Laura Wythe

He didn’t think the town was racist. They had their way of sorting people, of keeping them honest. The Wests had Indian blood from the frontier days and the genes popped up in random generations–two in a row with his dad and his sister. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t something the town let them forget. Even with his fair colour, he got his share of teasing. Rebecca, well, she got teased about everything and maybe the link to Tecumseh was just the last straw. The Galloways, they’d climbed the social ladder and right on up into the early government. The link to Tecumseh stuck but the family had always taken a hard line that nothing happened between old Rebekah and the Shawnee. None of their generations had come out brown-skinned like his father and his sister, so maybe it was true. In the end, Miles believed what mattered most was how people treated one another.

The Bones: The Crossing, Chapter 3 by Laura Wythe (Available on Amazon)

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The Bones Illustrated 8

Rain Whisperer by Laura Wythe

People all over the world claimed to be in touch with the rain, but Clem believed the whisperers who gathered the most media buzz were liars. Sure, small miracles did happen. Some prayers were answered, how many out of millions? The genuine survivors told how it felt like they’d died and only when they had given up all hope and struggle, only then, had the water, or the weather itself, carried them to safety. They had submitted.

Clem stopped asking for data. She surrendered to the rain.

The Bones, Wooing, Chapter 19 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)

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The Bones Illustrated 7

The Bones illustrated from Text to Textile show (2018) Sprinkler System by Laura Wythe

“So, where did the water go?” she asked.

“It rose fifty feet and was wicked above the tower lines to Sandusky.”

“Then it followed the Mississippi.”

“It ran along that corridor like a series of beads. Bring up the video feed and show her.”

Pi did, and in the corner of her screen he used the cursor to show her the sequence. “Then it reached Oklahoma and we shunted it west.”

“We’re still waiting for it to drop.”

“Still aiming for Uncle Walter’s pool in Phoenix?” Clem asked.

“Ha! He’ll wonder where that came from.”

“Actually, Pi, he’ll never know.” TinTin said this with relief. “He’s visiting my folks in Jericho. He heard they’re getting rains and he likes the idea of a green desert. We’ve tapped into his home security cameras. This small quantity of water should evaporate in less than two hours. Such is the arid state of Arizona.”

The Bones: Wooing, Chapter 18 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)

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The last of 2020

I’m done with disasters for now. And yet, there is still work to done, both personally and as part of the collective that lives on a shared planet. If there’s one thing that has remained true in 2020, it’s the connection to earth and the precious air we share. How visible that space is now! I work through electronic media, I visit and take courses in the same way. People I see in person are masked, with all that evokes. The trees, rivers, lawns, gardens, birds, critters, bugs, sky and weather remain immediate and true to form. One of my favourite “earth” connections this year is the food that a CSA farm delivers to my doorstep.

My novel, The Bones and the art show that followed its publication needs to wrap up one last thing before I move on to the next large project. I would like to finish sharing with everyone the rest of the work from Text to Textiles, the display of illustrations I made for The Bones. Some are sold, others are nested safely for another day.

Text to Textiles was based on the idea that the main driver of the plot in The Bones, Catherine, is the head textile curator at the Royal Ontario Musuem. She goes back to her family farm which is inundated with flood waters to gather textile artifacts and also to search out for the bones of Tecumseh. One is a great motive, the other rather obsessive, patriarchal, colonial, etc., etc..

There seemed no better way to illustrate The Bones than through stressing common Ontario Loyalist textiles after they are embroidered with traditional stitches. Less traditional materials are used to highlight Catherine’s daughter’s views. And then there are emboideries on silk with somewhat Gothic representations that link to another character and the silk memorial embroideries that would have been popular with Loyalists after the War of 1812.

I will make individual posts with the text below to carry on where I left off, but for now, enjoy the slide show!

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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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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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