The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers celebrated their 35th anniversary in fine style on Thursday April 26 with a tea, exhibit, sale, demonstrations, and a special performance by the Oliver Handbell Ringers. The event was open to the public, and was well-attended. The date was also picked to coincide with BC Arts and Culture Week, and was one of a number of arty gatherings this week.
Visitors were treated to a sit-down tea with sandwiches and sweets. The audience was delighted with the handbell concert, which transformed the event into a multisensory experience!
Many stalls displayed clothing, linens, purses and other accessories, and whimsical items. A collection of spinning wheels stood at one end of the Oliver Community Centre hall where there was also a slide show of various fibre art projects. Weaving and felting were among the live demonstrations.
At left, Gail Erickson weaves using one of the smaller looms on display. A belt perhaps, Gail?
Felted blossoms and leaves were a sure sign of spring.
Cynthia Jones threads her shuttle, working on the largest loom on display.
A fancy “tea” party must have a fancy tea cosy — or is it a teapot? Notice the bead on the spout for a drip.
Terry Irvine soaps up her wet-felted creation, a sheep tea cosy, while an amused Diane Lindsay looks on.
And a busy happy throng of weavers, tea-partiers, and curious onlookers!
The Desert Sage Spinners & Weavers are busy preparing for their
Slow Fibre FestSaturday October 2910 a.m. to 5 p.m.Seniors Centre2965 South Main St., PentictonVendor market, Demonstrations,Displays, Fashion ShowFree admission – but bring your wallet for purchases!Refreshments and Lunch available
Pictured here, members of the guild are “growing” felted blossoms on willow branches. The finished creation will be a stage decoration during the event’s fashion show.
This guild has some of the most inventive, creative, beautiful … and funny! …spinners and weavers around. The Slow Fibre Fest will be guaranteed to make you gasp with delight, laugh, and reach for your pocket book so you can take those warm and cuddly creations home with you. A fun and educational outing for the whole family.
The RipOff Artists fifth anniversary Challenge concluded this week with a race to the finish, a ringing bell, and a burst of applause and cheers. The multimedia collective has been hard at work since Monday July 4 creating several works of art inspired by American Gothic by Grant Wood. As an added challenge, each artist in the collective chose their own iconic artist to imitate when “ripping off” the original piece. At 3:00 p.m. on Saturday July 9 , the time ran out on this year’s Challenge, with most artists completing their work.
Marion Trimble followed the style of Mexican painter Freida Kahlo when recreating American Gothic in mixed media. Freida and artist husband Diego Rivera replace the farming couple. Rivera holds a set of paint brushes instead of the pitchfork. The farmhouse only partially conceals Kahlo’s famous Blue House studio. Lush palm trees stand in for Iowa fields.
Kurt Hutterli, a 3-D artist specializing and found objects and recycled materials, copied the bold style of Alexander Calder. Hutterli incorporates Calder’s palette of bright primary colours for the simple wood figures, and Calder’s love of mobiles for the clouds pverhead.
JoAnn Turner, painting on a wooden cabinet, adopted the style of Byzantine iconography for a “diptych” of the farming couple, giving them the dark brown eyes and swarthy complexion more typical of Byzantine art. The drawer above was decorated with Byzantine architecture. Turner says she has more detail work to do, perhaps incorporating the delicate artwork of another medieval religious painter Hildegard of Bingen.
Encaustic artist Thea Haubrich mimicked the style of Japanese wood-block artist Katsushika Hokusai. Hokusai is well-known for The Great Wave and several paintings of Mount Fuji. In Haubrich’s reproduction, a pagoda replaces the farmhouse in the background. In front, a Japanese lady and a grimacing samurai (in wire-frame spectacles) pose together.
Quilter Dianne Birnie experimented in the style of Gustav Klimt. She combined two separate society portraits by Klimt. She enjoyed the contrast between Klimt’s high society models and the American dustbowl setting of the dirty 30s.
Photographer Russell Work adopted the style of Salvador Dali. Work took inspiration from several of Dali’s techniques: Melting timepieces were replaced with a melting cameo brooch and eyeglasses. Dali’s use of wire suspension and props were used for the farmhouse and the farmer’s chin. Dali’s famous waxed mustache twirls into curled and drooping pitchfork tines. Mimicking Dali’s Mae West painting, in which the actress’ face is transformed into a stage, Russell Work similarly transforms the farmwife’s face and blouse.
Leo Pedersen admits he struggled to find an appropriate artistic style in which to reproduce American Gothic in his chosen medium: wood. He finally settled on something very unconventional but entirely appropriate, Vancouver Sun editorial cartoonist. Len Norris. Norris was known for “skewering social mores”, much like it is supposed Grant Wood does in American Gothic. Pedersen’s work includes a typical editorial caption poking fun at the RipOff Artists, Grant Wood, and Norris himself: “…and this just when we’re through posing for that cartoonist fellow!” grumbles the farmer.
Barb Levant took her inspiration from a 1930s textile artist to recreate the apron worn in American Gothic.
In perhaps the most challenging recreation of American Gothic, fibre artist Terri Irvine knits a Picasso!
Enid Baker’s painting was inspired by the style of Modigliani, whose models are often shown with elongated bodies, oddly bent necks, and mask-like faces. Basing her design on Modigliani’s portrait Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz, she added a wine glass in Jacques hand– much more appealing than a pitchfork! The background is based on a separate Modigliani landscape.
Enid must have had time on her hands, because she also completed this “Gothic” version of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comic. “I was tempted to add some Gothic vampire teeth,” said Baker.
Missed the show? Watch for a RipOff Artists exhibit later in the year….
Local fibre artist Terry Irvine has completed a creative challenge: designing and creating one new work per day during the month of February. What a great way to beat the February blues!
Here is the second set of photos from her project. Scroll down the page to find the article detailing the first installment.
“The seemingly dye resistant flowers accepted the colour when immersed in my acid dyes. Success!” says Terry.
Here is a whole bouquet of acid dye flower brooches :
Terry completed two sets of hot pads wirth coasters, each in an animal paw design. The first photo shows the blue and white set before the felting process. It was created using thick handspun and a store bought edging yarn after knitting. The next photo shows the set after felting.
The third shows the results of the second set.
Terry comments on the process: “The coasters didn’t felt that easily by hand so I gathered some other things that needed felting and put them all together in the washing machine. The next day the hot pad was ready for felting, but nothing else was. Interestingly enough, the machine felted coasters were thicker and fluffier than the hand felted hot pad, which was surprising and, if ya think about it, opposite how you’d want them for functionality.”
Irvine also tried her hand at felting a water bottle carrier. However, felting is a mysterious process that doesn’t always give you what you expect:
“This was already knitted [before the challenge started], but needed finishing, ends sewn in or twisted for design elements, a border added to finish the top edge and felting and was one of those items added to make a load in the washer worthwhile. Its purpose when knitted was to be a bottle carrier complete with handles.
As you can see, it is so not a bottle carrier, but a uniquely shaped vase!”
And here’s a bit of whimsy: “I wanted a container for tissues in the car that could be crushed and otherwise abused and still look good. The final project is smaller than it should be, but I was able to try out my handspun ‘eyelash’ yarn and really like the result. I coulda checked the washing machine sooner, but…….”
Terry also sent a photo showcasing the whole Fibre Madness collection, nicely arranged on a fallen log. Congratulations Terry!
Local fibre artist Terry Irvine gave herself a challenge this past month to beat the notorious February doldrums:
“I set myself a couple of goals for the month of February. The first one was to produce a fibre product each day. The second was to document and photograph the products. The third was to upload the photos onto my computer and share them with friends who would like to see my progress and share in the madness. I figured by the end of the month, I’ll have a nice cache of smaller items for the farmers’ market and be more computer literate in terms of uploading and sharing photos.”
Irvine is the founder of The RipOff Artists, a local multi-media co-operative that chooses the work of a famous artist to “rip off” each year, each in their own artistic medium. Terry Irvine works with a variety of yarns, spinning, crocheting, knitting, and felting to create wonderful three-dimensional pieces of art. She was inspired by fellow Rip Off artist Thea Haubrich (of Twin Lakes Encaustic Art) who set herself the goal of doing an encaustic (wax) piece once a day for a month in the spring of 2010.
By the first week’s end, Terry found herself easily mastering the fibre portion of the February Fibre Madness project, but stymied by the computer:
“I’ve an interesting (and annoying) dilemma on my hands.I can get my photos from the camera to the computer, but the computer won’t accept them. A nice little photo preview shows on the computer screen followed by a statement that talks about the program not being initialized. Then the photos disappear. Sigh…..My plan is to call in the professional who is a Mac master in the Oliver area. With any luck he’ll be able to come over this upcoming week. In the meantime, I’m continuing with the knitting, crocheting, spinning, etc. Oh yeah, and the taking pictures.”
Problem quickly solved with phonecalls to some computer-savvy girlfriends, the photos soon arrived. See below for just a few samples from Terry’s daily photo diary:
Photo 1: A ‘sitster’ fibre artist using handspun yarns, bead & pipe cleaners.
Photo 2: Free-form crocheted flower using handspun (orange) & Hempwol (green). To be felted, beaded in the centre and made into a brooch.
Photo 3: A gym bag for my mat, weights and elastic. Crocheted, waiting for the washing machine and felting.
Photo 4: I hand felted the bowl in about 10 minutes. The red and purple yarns were knitted using a slip stitch pattern. Both yarns shrank up very quickly. I was aiming for a container to put business cards in, but ended up with a bowl that was ever so slightly too small. Back to the drawing board…
Photo 5 and 6: One of several fabric flower designs. The first few Terry made were for brooches. This one, as she describes, “is bigger and meant to hold small objects rather than be worn as a brooch.”
Got the blues? Why not set yourself an artistic challenge!
Sound familiar? If you’ve every had a colic-y baby you know how babies can scream and wail until they’re purple in the face. It’s called “the Period of Purple Crying”. Some new moms and dads become so frustrated by the experience, they are at risk for shaking their newborn and causing Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers Guild (see some members at left) is hoping to educate new parents about this risky behaviour by knitting purple toques for newborns. They will be donated to at-risk parents: new parents, young parents, and single parents for example. Their purple colour will hopefully remind caregivers that their crying baby’s purple face is normal, and that they need to seek some outlet for their frustration other than shaking their little one.
The guild invites all knitters and crochetters to get involved. President Gail Erickson describes the small plain caps as “melon sized” or “grapefruit sized” to fit the baby’s small round head. If you need a pattern or other intructions, contact to be put in touch with the spinners and weavers guild. To learn more visit: www.PURPLEcrying.info
Caps can be mailed to B.C. Children’s Hospital, c/o Claire Yambao, 4480 Oak Street, K1-209, Vancouver, B.C. V6H 3V4.
The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers hosted the Slow Fibre Festival in Summerland on Saturday October 9, 2010. The festival observed a similar principle as “slow food”: focussing on natural fibres and local fibre producers and artisans. The event, including displays, demonstrations, and sales tables was a huge success. It was a perfect tie-in with the Thanksgiving weekend. Member Gail Erickson says the venue was bursting at the seams with vendors and customers, and they will be looking for a larger location next year. Take a look at some of the photos from the festival, featuring the busy Desert Sagers at work.
Wish you knew how to do this yourself? Join the Guild! Contact the Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers by visiting our “Contact” or “Groups” pages, or by emailing the OCAC at
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During the last week of June, the South Okanagan’s RipOff Artists attracted media coverage and crowds of curious onlookers with their fourth annual exhibit, “ripping off” Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris and his iconic Mount Lefroy. During a weeklong demonstration and exhibit, each of the ten artists in the collective interpreted the famous painting in their own medium.
Leo Pedersen’s 3-D woodworking installation in progress.
Encaustic artist Thea Haubrich recreates Mount Lefroy in hot beeswax.
JoAnn Turner turns a CD cabinet into a work of art. Can you see the drawer knobs? Or are they surreal snowballs and mountain rocks?
3-D artist Kurt Hutterli adds the finishing touches to an elaborate installation. Painted egg cartons on the floor give the illusion that his artwork is at the “pinnacle” . The whimsical climbing figures added to Harris’ landscape are adapted from a famous period photograph of Rocky Mountain alpinists.
Kurt Hutterli discusses his tongue-in-cheek demo piece with OCAC member Dot Cranston. Mount Lefroy is painted on the hood of a rusted car, cruched in the shape of a mountain peak. Hutterli wonders (with a twinkle in his eye, of course) if the car perhaps once belonged to Lawren Harris himself?
Spinner and weaver Barb Levant recreates Mount Lefroy into an outfit a sherpa or alpinist would be proud to wear. She carefully chose colours and banded patterns to match Harris’ original painting.
Quilter Dianne Birne adds the last finishing stitches to her fabric interpretation of the painting.
Enid Baker reinterprets the masterpiece in watercolours.
Photographer Russell Work cleverly reimagines Mount Lefroy as “two-two-two Mounts in one!” His photo installation rotates (much like some modern billboards) to switch from the Lefroy painting to a photo of artist Harris at work on Mount Lefroy.
Collage artist Marion Trimble painstakingly glues strips of fabric and paper onto her piece.
And now for the finished exhibit! Marion Trimble, Enid Baker, Barbara Levant, Russell Work, JoAnn Turner, Terry Irvine (knitter), Diane Birnie, Leo Pedersen, and Thea Haubrich. Missing from photo: Kurt Hutterli.
“Tromp as writ”, “Overshot”, “Throw the shuttle” “Tabby”, “Pickup” — these unusual expressions are just a few phrases to be heard in the Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers Guild. Weaving is an age-old art of forming lengths of yarn into cloth. In early human society, weaving satisfied the need for clothing and shelter. Garments and dwellings were constructed from woven animal hair or plant materials. Today, the possibilities are endless with an array of threads, yarns, fabrics, dyes, animal hair, plants, and synthetics – and centuries of creative techniques to draw from.
Desert Sage members practice a number of skills including felting, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and knitting to create works of art. Anyone who likes to work with fibres is welcome to join! The Guild’s sixty members span the South Okanagan and the adjoining Thompson valley.
The Guild holds regular drop-in sessions every Thursday, September to June, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Oliver Community Centre. The monthly business meeting is on the second Thursday of each month beginning at 10 a.m. (same location). There are frequent workshops, demonstrations, exhibits, and sales.
We’re growing! Currently our membership sits at between 65 and 70 artisans. Between four and six new fabric art lovers join the guild per year. You might be one of them!
Our guild is a mixture of ages, backgrounds, lifestyles, skill levels, and artistic preferences. Our common thread is our keen interest in an unusual and somewhat obscure pursuit of yarn and fibre craft. Our crafts are an expression of human ingenuity, a sense of continuity with our past, and linkage with other cultures and generations. The pursuit of excellence in our projects forces us to slow down, pay attention to detail, and allow our creativity to flourish.
Photos by Penelope Johnson
Coming up for the Desert Sage Guild:
The Association of NorthWest Weavers’ Guilds Conference
“Weaving Waves of Colour”
Visit us at
July 6 – 11
Opening Reception: Monday 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Displays and Demonstrations: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Kids Day Activities: Wednesday 10:00 – 12 noon
Studio Building, Quail’s Nest Arts Centre