The Practice of Shibori

Since attending a workshop at the Esker Foundation last Saturday, I’ve been reading a little about the practice of Shibori and discovering the many ways that one can, using Indigo, create brilliant patterns on fabrics.

Keep in mind that this was my first experience.

Esker’s workshop presenter was Lyn Pflueger, generously assisted by Jeri, also from Bragg Creek.  Borrowed from the 2009 Annual Report for the Immigration Services of Calgary, this beautiful photograph by Fritz Tolentino.

Lyn 2

Everything about this workshop reminded me of working side by side with my mother…learning to crochet, knit, sew garments, embroidery and basket weaving.  My mother loved these things.  One of my biggest regrets is that I never had opportunity to learn the skill of weaving on a loom with Mom.  She was an inspiring person for so many reasons.  Lyn and Jeri demonstrated the same patience and the Esker programming staff was so wonderful, providing materials and a smooth pacing of the event.  Thank you.

While I stitched a running stitch (the first technique described) I thought about Mom and while I evidently did NOT pull my stitches tightly enough (optimally, you achieve a beautiful white to contrast with the deep colour of the indigo), I enjoyed every minute learning the methodology, with intention of pressing forward with such exploration.

I decided to explore a gesture of the bush that I visit and document every day at the pond.I felt a lot of strength in my surroundings.  I was emotional, I must admit.  The technique at the bottom of the image is called binding, in this case, around soya beans.  In the end, I wrapped these tightly enough so that the ink did not manage its way into the cloth.  My running stitches, on the other hand, were not so successful.






Kath Stitching Esker Shibori 2

Photo Credit: Esker Foundation


Kath Stitching Esker shibori

Photo Credit: Esker Foundation

Break here for a song that came to mind…I had heard the St. Mary’s University choir do a version of it…and I was thinking how I’d like to be with my Mom.  She would so enjoy Shibori techniques!


The samples that Jeri and Lyn showed us were so absolutely beautiful.  I liked the connection between the exhibit, Colleen Heslin’s work and the process.


The technique used for the samples below is a clamping technique.  I have not yet documented my clamped sampler, but was pleased to learn this second technique.



An amazing process of dye baths and oxidation…all timed.  It is easy to get absorbed by the interesting process of it all.



I managed to catch the gesture of the bush…very strong sense of the rock with the bound soya beans…a  strong border, but the loss of some branches, likely by a pulled thread or two or three, lost and not knotted properly.

Kath's Canon April 11, 2016 Shibori and Black Bird and Crow 002Kath's Canon April 11, 2016 Shibori and Black Bird and Crow 013

We enjoyed the various fabric samplers that demonstrated the limitless possibilities of applying these techniques and more to other types of fabric…felting, organza and others.


Thanks to all, for a beautiful morning at Esker! There was a powerful bonding to fabric artists, both present and those who have left this world…to feel that spirit of connection and creation was awesome!

Bunny Cake Tradition!


Mom always made us a bunny cake…my sister and I continue on the tradition.  And now, the next generation continues…my daughter Erin’s version, with two variations of a bunny face, at the very bottom.  I missed Mom a lot this year…again…still.






My daughter’s thoughts on faces…always a variation depending on the availability of licorice, chicklets and jelly beans.

Erin's Bunny 2016

Erin's Bunny 2016 2

Val’s Bunny 2016!

Val's Bunny Cake 2016

Angels in the East Village

Time spent in the East Village, working with the folk from create!, was treasured time and so good for my soul.  We tried to bring into our midst the energy of mothers and the feminine…welcoming memories of our mothers, the earth and, for me, Mary.  It was such a beautiful two afternoons.  I feel blessed to be with such creative people with so many powerful stories.  I thank Wendy Lees for opening up this opportunity in my life.

The lesson involved a conversation about how artists use references in order to create, some more than others.  We talked about using historical references and real life references.  The act of painting landscapes on location is called plein air.  I described the importance of asking for permission from photographers when using contemporary images as references.

All of this reminds me of a conversation that I once shared with Father Carroll.  We always had such wonderful chats.  He shared this Latin quote with me.  So, while most art has roots in other art or reference points, it is important that the artist explore a personal interpretation or reaction to that reference point.

ars est celare artem
True art is to conceal art

This is evident in the following example, looking at a Frida Kahlo Self Portrait and compared to Bronwyn Schuster’s fabric sculpture.

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Leon Trotsky). 1937. Oil on masonite. 76.2 x 61 cm. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA.

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Leon Trotsky). 1937. Oil on masonite. 76.2 x 61 cm. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA.

Bronwyn Schuster Acquisition

Bronwyn Schuster Acquisition

Some people prefer to refer to angels as guiding spirits…for me, it doesn’t matter how you look at the theme.  We have much to be grateful for, in considering the ‘maternal’ in our communities.  Painting angels at the East Village was a joy.

P1160727 P1160728 P1160729 P1160731 P1160732 P1160733 P1160734 P1160735 P1160737 P1160738 P1160739 P1160740 P1160741 P1160742 P1160743 P1160745 P1160746 P1160747 P1160748 P1160749 P1160750 P1160751 P1160752 P1160753 P1160754 P1160755 P1160756 P1160757Alanna shared that she added wings to the woman sitting before the table and that the angel was her mother.  She remembered sharing a table with her own mother.  It was a very powerful moment for me.

Thanks to the group, for sharing flowers and a birthday gift bag with me.  Thanks to Mark who gave me a rosary.  Thanks for the genuine hearts.

create May 16 Alanna create may 16f Leslie create may 16e Leslie create may 16d Loretta create may 16b create May 16a


Gorilla House LIVE ART: November 20, 2013

I began writing this post at 3:33.  Cool.

I heated up a bowl of cream of mushroom soup for lunch.  It was prepared the way Mom used to do it (apart from the addition of a can of water) when we were just wee things.  I sat at the large feast table by myself and pretty much ruminated the soup away, with thoughts of Mom and her love and care of me.

P11401590019_###After that, I spent the afternoon on my kitchen floor, working on a painting of a soldier and his daughter.  It should be finished this weekend.  Max and I took off for the off leash park and while my lashes froze during that one, I enjoyed getting up and moving after the intensity of my afternoon work-out. Painting is a huge work-out, the way I look at it.

I hesitated to go down to the Gorilla House because of the cold.  In the end, I made the trip out of commitment to myself and my friends who also attend every week.  It has something to do with the practice…the community…and the brain gym.

All of the driving concepts had to do with Mathematics… Game Theory and Deformation Theory (something to do with P).  HUH?    Math was a struggle for me in school…a struggle last night as well.  In the end, I thought simply of the relationship of a mother to her child.  Is that in any way mathematical?  Thanks to Rich for picking this one up at auction.  I was glad to see you, Angie. Be better. Thanks, Bruce, for the beverage.  Congratulations, Jess, on getting those cards done!

P1140177I finished writing this at 4:03…and that, with a consoling conversation with daughter.  I love you, Erin.

Where are you Brenda Draney?

It was blustery.  I thought about the slowest way I could possibly drive to the Esker Foundation, located on 9th.  I have attended other events related to the exhibit (film viewing, panel discussion, artist talk) since the opening of Fiction/Non-fiction.  There was no way weather was going to keep me from a painting opportunity where Brenda Draney would be doing some sharing…some wandering…some listening.  Everything I’ve been ‘incubating’ about since Mom’s passing (story, connection, identity, loss), would be a part of the afternoon’s experience…so, I was going to forge through the weather, regardless.

Once I arrived, I chose a seat that faced out toward the street…wide, tall windows stretched before me.  I could see onto the neighbouring roofs and watch the snow blowing.  Above me, the pod that houses the administrative space…a nest-like feature, caused an immediate sense of comfort and coziness.  Meeting Sharon, the artist across from me, led to a very quick and impact-full connection.  I felt happy.

I had dumped a pile of old black and whites into a zip lock bag before leaving home and proceeded to shuffle through them, looking for references. It didn’t take me long.  I won’t go into details…I won’t share the stories that connect me with the images…but, I will say that there was an immediacy.  Topics shared on my visits with Brenda and Sharon yesterday afternoon included, but certainly weren’t limited to; identity, memory, stories, mothers, objects of affection, nostalgia, art, teaching, journals, writing, voice.

At the conclusion of the afternoon, I felt so empowered and so grateful.  Brenda Draney is like an angel who was brought into my circle for the purpose of some reflection…some connection and some healing.  It was the most delicious of afternoons, and certainly a gift to myself.  Thank you, Brenda.

P1140140 P1140146 P1140147Technically speaking, it was a tricky thing to choose to use greys for the entire day…but, this session wasn’t so much about the technical aspects of watercolour (a completely foreign medium), but about meaning. I spoke to Sharon about the curtains that Mom had sewed on her treadle sewing machine, even when we were in military-poverty in those early years living in Ste. Sylvestre, Quebec.

Incubator: Brenda Draney from Latitude 53 on Vimeo.

Brenda Draney, Church 2012

Brenda Draney, Church 2012


Over the course of our lives, there are times when we need to step back.  Grieving for my mother has caused me to step back from writing and any significant connection with technology. That’s been good.  In some ways, I feel as though I’ve been sort of floating through life these last couple of months.  If the things that really matter are imagined to be beautiful balloons, I have been holding tightly, the past couple of months, to the strings that link me to family and faith. Now it’s time to grasp for those strings that reconnect me with my art and my words.

Good-bye 2011.

Good-bye 2011.

Good-bye 2013.

Good-bye 2013.

Birth Days and Mother’s Days

I was born on Mother’s Day in 1955.  This May, I’ve thought often and hard about my mother who has struggled the past few years with Alzheimer’s disease.  I thought about Mom on my birthday.  And I thought about her again on Mother’s Day…and I’ve thought about her pretty much every day since I left her bedside last month.

Christmas St. SylvestreI want to thank those of you who brightened my days with your love, your wishes, your prayers and your cards.  It has been another year filled with blessings as numerous as challenges.  I am grateful for all of it.  I am grateful for you.



First Crocus of the Year

It is such a celebration when, finally, the crocuses are blooming on the ridge.  I once painted a Mother series around the crocus because each spring they reminded me of my own mother, their softness, fragility and beauty.  The crocus is so ephemeral and yet such a powerful symbol of new life.  Although it’s really not an environmentally sound ritual, I also picked and pressed a single bloom as a rite of spring each year, for many years. Here are three of those spring times captured in a frame.

P1100915This year, I’ve broken with that rite of spring and have left my bloom to be admired and then to lose it’s petals, go to seed and bloom again next spring.  I will remember and cherish that I was graced by its beauty.  Life experiences have taught me that to admire and engage a life, however fleeting, is enough.


Gorilla House LIVE ART: March 27, 2013

I went to paint with my community last night…not for the sake of an auction at the end of the evening, but as a way of working out my frustration at being here in the west while out east my Mom is sick and my Dad is worried.  I’m grateful to my sister and my daughter who are there as supports…grateful to my uncle who drove from Montreal to love and support…but still my heart aches to be there…so I painted.

I have captured a likeness of my mother at a young age, but recognize easily the bits that need to be perfected to give a truly accurate depiction.  S’ok though, because in two hours, the place I arrived at was a peaceful place.  In attendance, and greatly appreciated, were Clayton, Margy, Wendy and Jen….and with open arms and big hugs; Bassano, Jeff, boy-Morgan, Karen, Jess, Harold, Tamara, Andy, Bruce, Jeff, girl-Morgan and of course, Rich.  Oh yes, and there was one wee girl who observed from behind for much of the evening and finally approached.  Her hair was in a thick mass of curl.  She said sweetly, “If that lady had brown eyes, we would be twins.  I think I look like her and she’s beautiful.”   Great conversations were shared while painting and I thank the people who attended for the first time and the people who stopped to give me their thoughts on my process.  It was wonderful.

So, no, I did not paint the inspirations of the night…and I began upside down and then shifted to right side up during the last half hour.

P1100278 P1100279 P1100284

Dear Mom,

Dear Mom,

I loved how you reacted on skype yesterday when I talked to you about the birds at my feeder…shivering…but then again, polishing off a whole feeder full of seed in an afternoon!  I loved your smile and your compassion.  I loved the light in your eyes.  You spent many years watching the birds and identifying them.  They were such entertainment and delight for you.  I hope you will enjoy these three photographs that I took this morning in the garden, just for you!  I love you.  Kath



Matthew 6:26
“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor do they gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”