Workshops explore working with fabric, textiles

16 Jul

blyth1419paintbrushesBy Diva Heather Boa

BLYTH -A blank canvas of burlap lay on the table. Surrounding it were small pots of coloured paint, a handful of brushes, bits of sponge and even a couple of toothbrushes.

Various painting techniques yield varying results.

Various painting techniques yield varying results.

“Do you do any fabric painting?” asked Jennifer Triemstra-Johnston, a university fashion and textile arts instructor who is leading two weeks of classes created for Blyth Arts & Cultural Initiative 14/19 Inc., an ambitious arts and culture endeavour taking root in this small community.

“No. I do absolutely nothing,” I replied, with a sense of déjà vu, recalling that just last month I stood in front of a canvas in an art shop, preparing to paint my first masterpiece.

And so we started at the very beginning, my painting companions and I. We each chose two colours of paint and began to experiment on a scrap of burlap. We dipped and dabbed, wetted and flicked, sponged and sponged again. We tried watery paint, viscous paint, and even spray paint. We took aim at our canvases with toothbrushes then ran our thumbs across the paint-laden bristles, drops of paint raining down on the fabric. We sprayed paint from bottles, sometimes finding a dud bottle that squirted paint to the left or right of where we aimed. We tinted and shades.

A trio of stencilled patterns  adorn a book bag.

A trio of stencilled patterns adorn a book bag.

While we played, Jennifer gently guided us through various fabric painting styles, sharing stories from her days as costume designer for the Blyth Festival and her experiences teaching. Conversation about careers, grandchildren, clothing and other topics in which strangers find common ground filled the moments when we weren’t engrossed in our projects.

When our burlap canvases were crowded with our experiments, we started again.

Lorraine Brophy, of Goderich, pulls back the stencil to reveal her handiwork.

Lorraine Brophy, of Goderich, pulls back the stencil to reveal her handiwork.

We played with store-bought stencils and patterned doilies, layering colours and experimenting with brushes, then carefully lifting the stencils, never knowing what the final results would be. We tried stamps in the shape of flowers and stars. We oohed and aahed at each other’s work, comparing styles and admiring techniques.

And for the finale, we each completed a project – a burlap book bag with a trio of red stencilled damask-like pattern for me and an apron adorned with stamps of pretty Dutch-blue flowers for my class companion.

I’m pretty proud of what we accomplished and plan to go back next week for a rug hooking class.

This diva tries her hand at stencilling.

This diva tries her hand at stencilling.

Other classes include fabric dyeing, pattern drafting, rug hooking, lace knitting, millinery and jewellery. There is also a sustainable fashion workshop that will involve a clothing swap and alteration and styling tips with sewing machines on hand for re-designing.

Prices range from $10 to $25 for a class or workshop, or $45 for a day pass or $100 for a weekly pass to unlimited classes. (Materials are extra).

There are also Open Artist Studios with experts on hand to answer questions and offer advice and demos. Open Artist Studios are free to anyone who wants to drop by and work on their own projects, continue working on projects started in class or just visit.

For a complete listing of classes, workshops and open studios and signup details, visit online.

 

 

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