Silk Fusion

We in Nova Scotia are very lucky to have Kathryn at the Fleece Artist, our many and varied small flocks of sheep, goats and rabbits and of course the internet, which has changed our fibre lives.  Still, sometimes you want something different that you can touch and ponder, vibrant colours, books to leaf through before deciding to buy them, samples and new ideas. Last Tuesday brought that opportunity at the home of Kim Ellis and the Southpaw Sheep Farm.

A few months back I corresponded with a woman by the name of Karen Samanski in Ottawa, Ontario.  She was coming to Nova Scotia for her vacation and was wondering if anyone in the Annapolis Valley would be interested in seeing some of the Australian fibre and other items that she imports for kds fibre and textiles.  I invited Karen and her husband Clinton to stay at my home, and do a trunk show with the Potluck Spinners and Weavers.

Karen and Clinton arrived around 1pm on Tuesday August 20th, after enjoying a leisurely drive from New Glasgow, where they left their 7 year old son with his grandparents.  I showed them around my home, got acquainted, and then we headed off to Falmouth for the gathering.

I had warned Karen that we are enthusiastic group, and rarely have the chance to see new items in the flesh, so I was keeping my fingers crossed that she had taken me seriously.  I was not disappointed, as she unpacked her bags I saw color and texture, fabric and beads, roving and yarn.

The afternoon and evening brought out many of our regular group, and a few new faces; a textile artist and costume designer, watercolor painter, a knitter, many weavers and spinners.  I saw little stashes begin to build up in corners around the room, everyone making sure they didn’t miss out on their favourite items.

Everyone was in awe of the beautiful felting and silk paper pieces that Karen had brought to show us, so when 4pm came, she had an attentive group for her silk papermaking or fusion demonstration.  I think we were all pleased to see how much easier on the hands this process was, as compared to felting that we did a few weeks ago, I’m still sore 🙂

After explaining to us the technique, doing a piece herself and answering many questions, it was our turn.  I was one of the first, and did a quick and simple piece using shades of blue and turquoise.  I was the only one who was so conservative.  The collages and colors were bolder with each person. Jeanette Staples, a watercolour artist from the Wolfville area did the most incredible mask, an inspiration to others.

Angela Melanson of LaLa and Gleen Productions, a textile artist and costume designer who does work for the Atlantic Theatre Festival and Neptune Theatre didn’t have a chance to try the silk paper making, but she did bring along some of her hand-woven and screen printed scarves.  I don’t quite understand the process, but I think she weaves part of the item and then takes it off of the loom to print it, and then puts it back on the loom to continue weaving.  They are incredible.

Textile artist Jali Giroux had lots of fun topping up her supplies.  Jali makes intricate books covered in fine fabrics and embellished with hand stitching and beadwork.  She also dyes, spins and produces the most beautiful hats, shawls and other items.

As always, the food was incredible, everyone went home bursting at the seams.  Kim provided us with a great venue for the day, she has a beautiful home full of open spaces and fibery things everywhere.  She even had three 4 week old kittens that she tried to send home with everyone, but we resisted.

I finally got to meet Matilda, the grey Cotswold sheep whose fleece I’ve been enjoying, she’s perfect.  Kim has a good size flock of fibre and meat sheep, a llama and a miniature donkey.

After saying our goodbyes and packing up, Pia, Karen, Clinton and I made a stop at the studio and shop of Lisa Drader-Murphy at Turbine Clothing.  I dropped off my first hand-woven rag rug, which is made of the leftover unused vintage fabric that Lisa uses in her designs.  Lisa was very pleased with her rug, in exchange I will be sharply outfitted for my brothers wedding in September.  Lisa has asked me to display my rugs in “The Loft” a small gallery that she has upstairs at Turbine, and she has asked me if I would like to contribute a rug for a charity auction in support of a women’s shelter in Halifax this fall.

What a visit, Karen and Clinton headed out Wednesday morning after treating me to a breakfast of fresh bread and raspberry jam.  I can’t wait to see them again in the spring.  Thanks so much to everyone who came along, especially Lois Brown from PEI, its always great to have you in our midst.

In the coming weeks the Potluck Spinners and Weavers will be spinning in public on the first Friday of the month, be on display at the Hants County Exhibition on the weekend of September 21/21/22, visit the new dyeing workshop at the Fleece Artist sometime in late Sept/early Oct, and most importantly, be in full swing planning for our fall retreat in November.  I will be posting a message soon about our fall retreat, there were only five spots left when last I checked, so if you want to join us, now’s the time to plan…

Julie Rosvall

Wolfville, NS


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