26 September 2016

SAQA Atlantic Fall Retreat

October 28 - 30, 2016
Debert, NS

SAQA Atlantic members are getting together for a weekend of camaraderie, learning and inspiration! Join us at the Debert Hospitality Centre for the last weekend of October.


Friday October 28th

4:00 - 6:00 p.m.   
Arrival at Debert Hospitality Centre, room check in and orientation; welcome by Atlantic area SAQA rep Regina Marzlin.

Show and Tell

Saturday October 29th

Hands-on seminar – The Alchemy of the Crayon Box, or, 64 colours are not ALWAYS better than eight  
Led by Linda Mackie Finley

In this session, we will review the simple 'reality' of the colour wheel and how viewing colour in a more painterly fashion can demystify the process of colour mixing and application. Participants will learn to more-reliably predict results and will have an opportunity to generate a full range of colours using only a basic few. 

Presentation and discussion – The Business of Art
Guest Speaker, Stacey Cornelius

Stacey Cornelius is a practising artist with a BFA in Textiles and Art History from NSCAD University. Stacey has 30 years experience in many facets of the retail industry and regularly offers classes on pricing and marketing for visual artists in various media. Her presentation, tailored to the interests of textile artists, will cover brand building, professional pricing and ways to determine the correct market niche. 

Show and Tell

Sunday October 30th

Discussion 1 – Working with Galleries
Led by Regina Marzlin

Participants will explore options for identifying and approaching appropriate venues for exhibition and sale of their work. 

Discussion 2 – Where to from Here?
Aimed at establishing a path forward for our vibrant community of textile artists.

Departure after lunch on Sunday.


Please register for the retreat on or before Friday October 14, 2016For more information or to register, contact our SAQA Atlantic representative Regina Marzlin.    

This event is for SAQA members exclusively. Not a member? You can join SAQA here!

19 September 2016

The Beauty of Imperfection: Lessons from Japan

Maelstrom by Susan Lilley, 2016 w36" x h29"

One night only! If you're in the area, please join me, Susan Lilley, and friends Miyako Ballesteros, Phyllis Price and Susan Robertson for our pop-up art exhibition on Saturday, September 24th, from 6-11pm, 527 King Street, Bridgewater NS, just one of many installations and events at Afterglow, Bridgewater's one-night festival of the arts.

The Beauty of Imperfection:
Lessons from Japan

Four friends have joined forces in an exploration of Japanese culture through its application to contemporary textile art and flower arranging. The Beauty of Imperfection features the Japanese techniques of ikebana (flower arranging), sashiko (stitching) and shibori (dyeing). These diverse methods will expose viewers to two deeply held Japanese values: mottainai (disdain for waste) and wabi sabi (appreciation for old and imperfect items). In North American throw-away society, these lessons have important application for achieving sustainability in the 21st century.

Ikebana by Susan Robertson, 2015

05 September 2016

Laurie Swim in the Spotlight

Nova Scotia artist Laurie Swim has been riding a wave of recognition.

Laurie's quilt Breaking Ground: The Hogg’s Hollow Disaster, 1960 was featured in a Labour Day themed Toronto Star article entitled Once Upon A City: Toronto’s labour pains. The large, collaborative fibre art project commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Hogg's Hollow disaster.

Meanwhile, Laurie just received word of an Art Gallery of Nova Scotia display entitled Nova Scotia Spotlight: Laurie SwimHer piece, Make-and-Breakis in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Permanent Collection by artists contributing to the province’s cultural heritage. It is described as "a Nova Scotian fishing scene that captures history, landscape, and architecture in an intricately quilted image that is strikingly pictorial yet dedicated to an exploration of fibre."  The quilt is on display at the AGNS (Halifax) until September 18th, 2016. 

Make and Break by Laurie Swim, 2010

And just recently, Laurie celebrated her new Wikipedia listing. Read all about Laurie Swim's impressive journey as an art quilter.

Congratulations, Laurie, for all your accomplishments! 

02 September 2016

My Corner of the World - Update

What's next for the two SAQA My Corner of the World exhibits (Canadian and international), currently on display in Stratford, Ontario?

At Anchor by Heather Loney, Dartmouth, NS

The exhibits' stay at the Stratford Perth Museum has recently been extended until October 20, 2016. Next stop on its cross-Canada journey: Thunder Bay! Over 80 pieces of artwork, including eight from Atlantic Canada, are on display. 

My Corner of the World Canada curator, Bethany Garner, recently wrote in her message to contributing artists:

"It is with great pride and thanks to each of you for making this past four months a truly exceptional experience for the many hundreds of visitors to the Stratford Perth Museum... the reactions have been of wonder, joy, excitement and awe... from the students in summer camps travelling in for their field trips, to the many artist groups making plans for a day trip to see the exhibition - to the locals who are amazed and delighted to have the work so close by that they can take all of their summer guests and family to see the marvels on the walls and corridors at SPM!

Your work has inspired and delighted those who love art created with fibre and stitch, and the fascination continues as we have a number of all new SAQA members, inspired by your creativity, beautiful execution and stunning originals designs. Thank you!"

If you expect to be in either Stratford or Thunder Bay (Ontario) in the coming months, or have friends and family there, please suggest they visit!




A Fall Day in Westport by Joan Reive, Belleville ON

November 1, 2016 – January 29, 2017

Canadian and international artists interpret their “corner of the world” in this colourful exhibition of exquisite art quilts. This 80 piece show was developed in collaboration with SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). A two-part exhibition, it consists 40 pieces from SAQA Canadian member artists, and 40 pieces from SAQA International member artists. The artwork includes representational as well as abstract pieces, portraying a wide range of interpretations of the theme – from the geographical to the meta-physical.

The Thunder Bay Museum is located in downtown Thunder Bay South, kitty-corner to City Hall near the intersection of Donald and May Streets. Our street address is 425 Donald St. East.


And if you don't expect to be anywhere near Ontario, you can view all of these fabulous art quilts online:

My Corner of the World (Canada) 

My Corner of the World (international) 

01 September 2016

Call for Entry – Contemporary Canadian Art Quilts

 Moonlight Over Cordova Bay by Joan Hug-Valeriote

Ontario artist and SAQA member Joan Hug-Valeriote is mounting a multi-media exhibit of Canadian art quilts to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017. She invites all Canadian art quilters to be part of this unique presentation of both photographed and actual art quilts:

"Be part of celebrating Canada’s Sesquicentennial Year by submitting photographs of your Contemporary Canadian Art Quilts for inclusion in an exciting multimedia Video and Art Quilt display."

The exhibit will take place in the Berlin Tower Artspace, Kitchener City Hall, during April and May 2017. Entries will be accepted until October 24th, 2016.

For more details, click on Call for Entry or email: cdnartquilts@horizonsquilting.ca

23 June 2016

Atlantic Blogwatch

Have a look at what SAQA Atlantic members' blogs are on about this month:

Woo-hoo Colour Challenge

Heather Loney's blog is a show and tell about her work in a recent colour challenge. 

Colour challenge. Heather Loney, 2016

And here's the photo that launched her work: 

St John's NF streetscape

SOFAAR Launches in Annapolis area

Penny Berens' blog, Tanglewood Threads, recently announced the launch of SOFAAR: The Society of Fibre Artists of Annapolis River. SOFAAR's 45 current members include quilters, spinners, knitters, weavers, felters, crocheters, stitchers, hookers, dyers, basket-makers and paper-makers. The group has come together to promote and advance fibre arts and craft through exhibitions, workshops and educational activities in and around Annapolis Royal and Digby, Nova Scotia. They intend to host a couple of workshops a year as well as other events such as exhibitions and artist presentations.

SOFAAR launched with a two-day public show of members' artwork. Annapolis Royal's ARCAC Chapel Gallery will feature a curated SOFAAR exhibition from Aug. 28 to Sept. 25, 2016.

28 May 2016

Hélène Blanchet interview: Folk art in big nature

Wee Cabin in The Woods by H. Blanchet, 2009, 11” x 11”.

Fibre artist Hélène Blanchet creates exuberant hand-made quilts from her home deep in the highlands of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. 

Surrounded by big nature, her folk art pieces tell stories inspired by her life and travels. Her husband’s work provided the family with many opportunities to see the world, all while home-schooling their three children. These travels nurtured Hélène’s love of traditional textiles. She draws inspiration from these traditions, the natural world, her family and the beauty of her home province.

Hélène took up fibre art full time in 2007 and has since shown her work in numerous juried shows; locally, nationally and internationally and in several galleries.

Tell us about your work.

I often describe my work as textile folk art. My hand-made pictures are based on very basic piecing, heavily embellished with tiny appliqued bits, quilting, embroidery, buttons, beads, miniature toys and many other items that I come across. My colours are bright and cheerful, the designs are simple and the perspective is sometimes a little off. Often, the picture continues, in paint, on a wooden frame. The pictures in my quilts tell a story that is revealed slowly upon viewing. 

Ladies in Yellow Dresses go to the Beach by H. Blanchet, 2011, w25” x h29”.

Describe your journey towards becoming an artist who works with textiles. 

My love affair with textiles began when I was first introduced to embroidery in grade seven. As a teenager, I poured over books on traditional textiles and was particularly drawn to Medieval English story boxes done in thread and stumpwork, describing conquests or everyday life in the Middle Ages. The box featured in this video was particularly inspiring to me and really got me interested in story-telling with a needle.

Eventually, I began appliqueing bits of fabric onto a base layer to create little pictures. When my children were young I made little bed quilts from old clothing, by hand, without a pattern. When I saw my first quilt show in 2006, I was hooked and began making “proper” quilts, still without a pattern. Wanting some feedback on my work, I entered my first National Juried Show in 2007. To my surprise, one of my Amish-style quilts was accepted and won an honourable mention. 

With this encouraging news, I decided I wanted to become an artist. The following year I began deliberately making art quilts, developing new techniques and entering shows. Eventually I joined various quilt guilds and fibre arts groups and immersed myself in fibre arts of all kinds. But still, I just wanted to make my little pictures. The tranquility of the deep woods together with the camaraderie of other women helped build my self-confidence, but it was only last year that I (finally) found the confidence to call myself an artist.

Tell us about your process for creating. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you get from that to a final product?

My pictures are based on everyday life occurrences or moments that I find particularly funny or inspiring. Often, a title springs to mind first and won’t leave me until I’ve turned it into a picture. I make a rough sketch, build my background and applique the larger elements of the piece. I then heavily quilt it to create a sturdy base for my embellishments. During the slow process of hand-quilting, I think about the details of the piece and take many notes. As I applique tiny bits of detail, the story emerges and becomes more involved. I create more intricate details in thread, buttons, beads, miniature toys, etc. and the story becomes more refined, more complex.

Dirty Hoers (detail) by Hélène Blanchet, 2016.

Do you have a studio, or do you work wherever you can find a spot?  

I don’t currently have a studio. We live in a very small cabin, so finding a space to work is a problem. Last winter I rented a nearby cottage to use as a workspace. We have been converting a second cabin on our property into a studio space that will soon be ready. 

We live simply, off the grid and without plumbing, so I’m occasionally slowed by a shortage of water or electricity. Fortunately, my nearest neighbour is also a textile artist and generously allows me to use her space when necessary. 

The Dancing Goat by Hélène Blanchet, 2016, 11” x 11”.

What are you currently working on and why?

When we moved to downtown Calgary four years ago, I began documenting our stay in a series of pieces I’ve called Calgary Days. I have since made nine of an anticipated 15 to 20 pieces. I’ve also begun to make small pictures of Cape Breton to sell through local art galleries.

The Corner, by H. Blanchet, 2016, w16” x h36”.

What are your goals for the coming year?

One of my main focuses for this year, in addition to the Calgary series, is the administrative part of being a professional artist: developing an online presence and finding venues for my first solo show. My work was recently juried into the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design and I am now busy writing proposals for shows, my own and several group exhibits. My solo show, Calgary Days, will launch in the fall of 2017. I am then hoping to have it tour this region for a year, continuing for a second year around Alberta. I also want to stay relevant by creating pieces for regional and national exhibits. 

Do you engage in other artistic or creative endeavors?

I’m an avid gardener. I see my garden as a giant living canvas, which I’m designing with “no straight lines“, à la Hundertwasser. I’m having a grand time sorting out how to do this on a small budget. Resourcefulness, hard work and luck seem to be the key, as they are in my textile work.

On Oyster Pond (detail) by Hélène Blanchet 2012.

What (non-fibre) artists, either historic or contemporary, have inspired you and why?

I love the work of Paul Klee: his compositions, lines and how he painted music. Matisse and Gaugin gave me the confidence to use colour as I want to, without understanding why. Alfred Pellan inspired my use of beads and thread to create textures in buildings and skies. Norval Morrisseau taught me that no matter what life throws your way, you can’t let it break your spirit.

Paul’s Magnificent Treehouse by Hélène Blanchet, 2009, w29” x h39”

What fibre artists are you currently interested in, and why?

I’ve admired Pamela Allen’s work for a long time now. I love her free compositions, sense of humour and stories. Anna Hergert has become somewhat of a mentor to me, I admire the way her creative mind works, her generosity of spirit and her contemporary approach to using very traditional techniques from various ethnic groups. I follow Maria Shell’s blog and love her energy and the strong graphic quality of her work. Mathilde René creates simple embroideries from her daily watercolour sketches. They always bring a smile to my face, reminding me of simple everyday pleasures.

Where can readers see your work this year?

Currently, my work is available in three Nova Scotia galleries:
The Sunset Folk Art Gallery, Chéticamp 
The Inverness County Centre for the Arts, Inverness 
The Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, Sydney. 

To learn more about Hélène and her artwork, please visit her gallery page  on the Fibre Art Network.