Category Archives: Blog

30.04.14

7 || Countdown to Backspace Forward

Made and worn over 150 years ago, number 7 in the countdown to Backspace Forward is a cap made of exquisite embroidery worked on very sheer cotton fabric, in white cotton thread. Using a mixture of surface embroidery and drawn thread work, the maker has created a detailed floral pattern. The surface embroidery sections include padded areas of stitching that makes the motif “pop.” For the drawn thread areas the maker has experimented with different patterns so each area of openwork looks different. In drawn thread work, selected threads of the base fabric are cut out, and the remaining threads are embroidered to create the lacy effect.

5. Embroidered cap. Ayrshire embroidery on cotton lawn fabric. C. 1850s. Cap belonged to Mary Grew, but craftsperson is unknown.

Embroidered cap (detail)

Some of the visitors to the in-person viewing of the historical works for Backspace Forward were mesmerized by the fineness, level of intricacy, and mind-bogglingly detailed hand-work in this piece.  It’s easy to imagine the bundle of long hair tucked into the top pouch of this delicate cap.  The piece seems ripe for modern reinterpretation, and we’ll be curious to see what new forms may emerge from this call for submissions.

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Category Archives: Blog

28.04.14

8 || Countdown to Backspace Forward

Number 8 in our countdown to Backspace Forward is a small and lovely twined grass basket with cotton embroidery embellishment.  As is the case with many pieces in the MCML collection, the craftsperson is unknown.  The piece dates from circa 1900 – 1940, and is of Aleutian origin – an island range in the north pacific, just off the coast of Alaska.

Although the maker cannot be traced, we do know that the artist was highly skilled.  The grass portion of the weaving is very precise and the fibres extremely fine.  The embroidery thread applied in a “false embroidery” technique includes wonderful geometric shapes in a patterns that is understated yet simply beautiful.

2. Twined Basket. Twined grass basket with cotton embroidery embellishment. Western Arctic. C. 1900 - 1940. Craftsperson unknown.

Twined Basket (detail)

“False embroidery” is a technique that gives an embroidered look to the finished item, but the coloured threads are actually wrapped around the weft fibres when they are on the exterior of the basket. They are applied gradually as the basket maker forms the basket, rather than during a separate process after the basket is completed.

For more about Aleutian baskets, here‘s a great place to start.  And if you’re interested in exploring basket weaving skills with local materials, there’s a course being offered in this summer in Clearwater, MB.  More info on that here.

 

 

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Category Archives: Blog

25.04.14

9 || Countdown to Backspace Forward

This work is titled Prairie Barnacles and does in fact look like the creatures that inspired it.  It was made to celebrate the Craft Guild of Manitoba’s 50th Anniversary in 1979. The Guild was a long standing craft organization in Manitoba, established in 1928 as the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild.

Prairie Barnacles is a free-form sculpture woven in wool, directed by Anne Ayre and installed by Gordon Ayre. Ruth Johnston, Shirley Anderson, Janet Baldwin, George Baldwin, Andrea Burchard, B. Renton Goodwyn, Ivy Rollo, Henrietta Mullin, Chris Grossman, Roberta York, Wyn Buchanan, Ruby Monds, Catherine MacLean and Jean MacMurray were also involved in its creation.

6. Prairie Barnacles, free-form woven sculpture in wool. Made for the 50th Anniversary of the Crafts Guild of Manitoba in 1979. Directed by Anne Ayre and Installed by Gordon Ayre. Also worked on by Ruth Johnston, Shirley Anderson, Janet Baldwin, George Baldwin, Andrea Burchard, B. Renton Goodwyn, Ivy Rollo, Henrietta Mullin, Chris Grossman, Roberta York, Wyn Buchanan, Ruby Monds, Catherine MacLean and Jean MacMurray.
The units for the piece were woven on the floor looms at the Guild. The technique is called warp rep, in this case using closely set wool as the warp. Warp rep uses heavy and thin threads alternately as the weft to create a ribbed effect. A strong thread is added to the warp on one side. After each unit is cut off the loom and the ends finished to form the tubes, the strong warp is drawn up – like a draw-string bag – and secured in place, forming the barnacle shape.

After all the individual units were assembled, they were laid out on the floor to form the groupings. A template was made from this, and used to cut the wooden base. The project was modeled after the work of Ken Weaver, a aptly named weaver who did installations and taught a workshop at the Guild in the late ’70’s.

We initially chose Prairie Barnacles for possible inclusion in this exhibition because it so strongly spoke of the period in which it was made.  It seemed somehow reminiscent of the early textile based work of artists like Sheila Hicks, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Lenore Tawney.  We’re keen to see how the work resonates with our members and what new creative ideas it might birth.

For full information on the call for submissions for Backspace Forward, MCC/MCML’s juried show, go here.  Applications due May 16, 2014.

 

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