Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review - Threads: The Art and Life of Surayia Rahman

On September 25th we welcomed director Cathy Stevulak to present her documentary Threads: The Art and Life of Surayia Rahman. Surayia is an artist who is driven to create: from painting and sketching to working with embroiderers in the tradition of Nakshi kantha tapestry. Threads is a documentary about her life, and about the lives of the women who earn a living through embroidering Surayia's designs.

Full information about the film, including a trailer can be found on the website:

It was a full house and Threads had an emotional impact with the audience. After the film Cathy answered questions about the embroidery, the film-making process, and Surayia's life.

Here is Tim McLaughlin's introduction to the evening:

There are a great many stories in the world. The ones we have not yet experienced are like food that we have not tasted, like buildings we have not entered, or people we have not yet spoken to. They are just around the corner and they are waiting for us. And just like people, some have nothing to say to us, some will tell us what we already know, while others will tell us only we want to hear. But some will tell us something that will change us forever. 
One of the fundamental impacts of the digital revolution is that storytelling has changed. Access to the tools of movie production – which formerly might have cost hundred of thousands of dollars – may be had for the price of a laptop and a good camera. The tools are of incredibly high quality and are now almost inconceivably portable.
As a result, those people with drive and vision can tell many stories that would not have been told before. 
Which is a profound change, especially if you believe, as the Canadian Novelist, Thomas King does, that the truth about stories is that that is all we are. 
All of our ambitions, hopes, failures, achievements, and works, exist, in a very real sense only in the stories that express us. 
Someone who has understood this truth is tonight’s guest, director and film-maker Cathy Stevulak. 
She has spent many years carefully directing the process of interviewing, recording, filming, and editing in order to tell the story that you will hear tonight. It is a story about art and craft, about empowerment and struggle and about one woman who is driven by a singular desire to create. 
Please join me in welcoming Cathy Stevulak …

Next lecture - Making Sense of Nonsense with Tilleke Shwarz on September 30th.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review - Animating Pattern

On September 23rd, Jane Callender delivered ler lecture "Animating Pattern" it was Jane's second time presenting at Maiwa. She returned with a substantial publication under her belt. 2000 Pattern Combinations: A step-by-step guide to creating pattern has been released in both English and Japanese. It is an invaluable source for anyone who is working with graphic material.

Jane took the audience through some of the secrets of manipulating imagery in a wide ranging talk that ranged from her first childhood fascination with textiles to her most recent studio work.

The evening was introduced by Toby Smith who has made opening the lectures something of an art form in itself. We are happy to reproduce her introductory remarks here:

I am afraid of three things. 
I am afraid of the dark. 
I am afraid of pressure cookers. 
And I am afraid of the vacuum cleaner. 
But none of these fears can compare with the sheer terror of unpicking a piece of shibori. You have spent maybe weeks sewing complicated, convoluted patterns of teeny tiny baby stitches and pulling tight, tighter, tight enough to cut your fingers. You dye your knotty little bundle in indigo. Then, carefully, you cut the stitches, now almost impossible to find amongst the folds. You use expensive pointy-nosed scissors, or a dollar-store seam ripper, or a needle, or your teeth. It could take days to remove all those elusive little stitches without cutting the fabric and making the whole thing worthless.  
And then of course there are those free-wheeling, arbitrary indigo gods. Indigo, always indecisive, first it’s yellow, then it’s green, now it’s blowing purple bubbles at you, now it’s blue. Now bluer. Now darker. Now too dark. 
Yes, Indigo, this scruffy, insignificant little plant with its ordinary leaf and unremarkable flower, that smells like a compost pile, and that bares a remarkable resemblance to a weed, has its own gods. If this is true, now would a good time to pray. Pray for temperance, pray for magic. And if you knew a sorceress now would be a good time to suck up. Pay her fee. Invite her to a city where the palm trees grow beside the beach. Tempt her with promises of cheap sushi and pious acolytes. Sooth her doubts with bunting at the airport and lotus petals in her tea.  
Jane Callender is one such sorceress. 
Her shibori starbursts and petals explode along the surface of fabric like a peony on raspberry gin. Jane’s designs draw us in and mesmerize us. The more you look at one design the more it reveals itself like the fractals of a kaleidoscope.  For all the excitement of her designs, however, they speak of calmness and patience, the patience of stitching, stitching-- through whole seasons of BBC dramas, 3 Veras, 4 Midsomer Murders and decades of Coronation Streets, stitching stitching.  
Indigo and shibori have held Jane's attention since she studied textiles at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in the UK. She went on to study at the Natalie Bray school of Haute Couture. Jane now lives in East Anglia but she teaches all over the world. She has taught and presented her textiles in schools, art colleges and universities, as well as to many groups and guilds.  
As you can see from her work and from her book, Jane has a great love of pattern. She has invented many stitch formats and motifs. Her primary dye is indigo.  Anyone who takes her workshop comes away feeling like they have experienced a huge leap in their knowledge of what is achievable with patterned stitching. I felt after taking Jane’s workshop that I had increased my imaginative capacity and that is a gift that keeps on giving.  
Jane has exhibited and lectured internationally. She has won awards for her amazing work and thanks to Maiwa we have her back in Vancouver again to give two workshops and her lecture tonight. 
I am very pleased to welcome the sorceress back: Jane Callender.
 - Toby Smith

Visit Jane Callender online at:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Workshop: African Indigo - Adire and Tie Dye


"Indigo is very powerful" muses Gasali Onireke Adeyemo, "In my tribe, we revere indigo as it symbolizes love. When we love someone, we gift him or her an indigo-dyed cloth."

This October, renowned indigo artist Gasali Adeyemo will be travelling to Vancouver to teach. The name Gasali Adeyemo has become synonymous with the Adire cloth of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria.

The art of Adire is similar to painting. The patterns are finely etched, symmetrical and conform to a traditional vocabulary. The designs are hand-painted using stencils, chicken feathers, slender broom straws and a small knife dipped in cassava paste to create strokes of differing thickness and texture. Each composition transmits a message, communicating the happenings in the community and the events of a generation in a style that emphasizes the link between life forms and the environment. In this class Gasali will take students through these techniques. The finished pieces will be dyed with indigo using traditional African methods.

Gasali will also teach the folding, patterning, and tie techniques used to create a tied resist with raffia. There are a few different raffia tie-dye techniques. One is a stitch resist where the design is made using a needle to stitch the raffia into the fabric. Another is tied by hand using raffia to create designs. Gasali will teach the students both tie-dye techniques as well as how to dye the fabric and remove the raffia. The finished pieces will be dyed with indigo using traditional African methods.

In addition to these traditional techniques, Gasali will  speak about the importance of indigo, adire, and tie-dye to both himself and his culture. Learn the meanings behind the designs of this distinctive African cloth. Says Gasali, "The cloth you wear is your second skin. So, Adire is as much a part of me as my skin. My work is the medium through which I campaign for the environment."

Spaces available. Call us 604 669 3939 or register online here:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review - Pretty Deadly

Last night (September 17) was Pretty Deadly. Michael Brennand-Wood took the audience through a survey of his work and artistic practice. The title refers to the double nature of much of Michael's work which, at a distance, appears to be floral or lace work; once viewed close up, however, the surface of the pieces contain disconcerting elements - like the substantial number of hand painted toy soldiers, aircraft and weapons.

Meddals - click for larger version

Here is Tim McLaughlin's introduction to the evening.

In 1939, a Russian of Armenian decent, Semyon Davidovich Kirlian, discovered a way to photographically expose the halo or corona of objects. The resulting images confirmed for many a truth: That objects (both animate and inanimate) are surrounded by a peculiar weather of radiance. 
The mysterious plates produced by Kirlian photography hinted at the spiritual life of the mundane. Coins glowed as if they were the sun during a lunar eclipse. Plant leaves seemed to emit their own tiny versions of the northern lights or to be reconfigured into phosphorescent landscapes. 
This idea – that the surface of some artifact can blossom into the fantastic - is a familiar one to any viewer who has spent time with Michael Brennand-Wood’s artworks. Michael has revealed the halo of potential that lies behind everything.

Here time, "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower", is stopped. Here riotous explosions are fixed and suspended.

This ability of Michael’s work to transform and reconfigure has been internationally recognized and in 2012 a retrospective celebrated 40 years of his artistic production.
Brennand-Wood completed an art foundation course at Bolton College of Art and Design. Choosing to do a BA in textiles at Manchester Polytechnic reflected a family interest in textiles: his grandmother was an industrial weaver who taught him sewing and knitting and his grandfather was an engineer. Michael has combined both influences. When starting his early artworks he reached for thread rather than paint – and his innovative pathway was set. 
I would like to mention that many works from his impressive opus are now contained in the beautiful book “Forever Changes.” Today as we were preparing for his lecture he mentioned that the descriptions he provided in the back of the book were motivated in part by his last visit to Maiwa in 2011. After that presentation, many members of the audience asked where they could source his descriptions of his work. So – if any of you feel the same after tonight’s presentation, I encourage you to pick up the book, which is available for sale tonight.
Please join me in welcoming back to Vancouver Micheal Brennand Wood.
Next up - Jane Callendar Animating Pattern. Jane arrives from the UK to present some of the insights from her new book and the journey of her life in indigo. Not to be missed.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review - Return To The Illustrated Stitch

On September 12 Janet Bolton returned to the Maiwa Textile Symposium to talk about her life and art. Janet's art is one of simple purity in which swatches of fabrics will suggest, with due encouragement and consideration, a vignette from childhood, a kite's journey across the sky, a day at the beach, or a warm grassy meadow.

"I love creating with fabric" Janet said, "If something is not right in your composition, you just pick it up and move it. You can't do that with paint, or pencil or chalk." Bolton also confessed to an enormous collection of swatches. "People often give me small bits of fabric that they can't bear to throw out." She said. She also confessed to coveting the colour or texture of the scarf of a passerby. "I sometimes think they wouldn't mind if just a tiny bit went missing" she joked.

It was a thoroughly delightful evening. Students registered in each of her three workshops are in for a special and unforgettable few days.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lock Up Something Special

Artisan Made Locks

Handcrafted security

Maiwa East has just received a collection of handmade brass and iron locks. These are mostly antiques that were made in small metalworking shops. They are stamped with the number of levers in the mechanism and the maker's brand. They feature hand riveted brass plates. We have cleaned them up, oiled the mechanism and tested the key. They are the perfect lock for some of our antique cash boxes or writer's chests.

Small locks. $29.95 each. Brass and steel. Can be used on small boxes or lockers.

Medium sized locks. $39.95 each. Brass and steel. 

Large locks. #49.95 each. Brass and steel. Perfect for a chest, especially the type that holds larger treasure.

Small iron "screw key" locks. These have brass ornamental plates on the body and an ornate
screw key that it turned to open the lock. Prices vary starting at $29.95.

Large iron locks. We have some unusual variations, including the lower far left
- a lock which requires three keys to open. And the peculiar key lock in the upper centre.
Prices vary, starting at $39.95.

Maiwa East
1310 Odlum Drive
Vancouver BC Canada

Open Thrusday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
Open Sunday 11am - 5pm

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review - Art Quilt Maps

Valerie Goodwin

On Monday September 8, the Maiwa Textile Symposium welcomed Valerie Goodwin to Vancouver. Valerie is best known for transforming the medium of quilting into a powerful artistic statement that combines the historic, political, aesthetic, and most importantly, the cartographic. Valerie spoke to a capacity audience about her personal development, her teaching, and her artistic practice.

A detail from the display present at
Valerie Goodwin's lecture.

The feeling of the evening might be best caught by Toby Smith's excellent introduction. We are happy to reprint that here in full:

Art Quilt vs Bed Quilt.

A distinction is often made between art quilts and bed quilts. This distinction, some say, has to do with placement. Art quilts hang on walls; bed quilts lie on beds. Others might say it has to do with pattern and composition. Bed quilters are precise with their points, meticulous in their stitching, and symmetrical of pattern. Art quilters are not concerned with the rules of quilting at all. This distinction between art quilts and bed quilts usually has unfortunate hierarchic consequences. Unfortunate for bed quilts.

Toby Smith introducing Valerie Goodwin.

But after thinking about art for a lifetime I’ll argue that the difference between a bed coverlet and a piece of serious fine art, is that art inhabits the realm of ideas. While a traditional pieced and stitched coverlet is not meaningless, an art work in the modern western convention intentionally enters a dialogue that challenges both the artist and the viewer. The best textile artists in modern art practice push the horizons of imagination, and materials. An art work that takes fibre as its medium is not substantially different from an art work that uses paint or clay or marble or steel as its vehicle. Art in this modern sense is an on-going conversation about the world and about art itself. In the wonderful world of traditional quilting, it is a great accomplishment to reproduce faithfully a traditional design using traditional hand techniques. Indeed it is important to do this work as it brings forward women’s social and material history. But the worst thing you can say to a modern textile artist is the worst thing you can say to any other modern artist, “It’s been done”. The cutting edge artist has to say something new, preferably something smart. They need to enter the dialogue of interpretation, either engaging materials in a new way or bringing challenges to accepted ideas.

Valerie’s Contribution

Valerie Goodwin’s work does both. Her art makes an insightful contribution to this conversation. And the voice of this dialogue is fibre. When she confronts high art with craft, she makes us reconsider both the smug elitism of modern art and the homey, domestic character of cloth. She takes architectural design principles out of their comfort zone, putting them in conversation with the symbolic universe of maps. She uses painterly techniques as well as the precision of architectural drafting. Valerie’s unique compositions engage the traditional, single point perspective of art with the multiple points of view of architecture. This constant confusing of the eye and perspective draws attention to itself, always provoking the viewer to try to make sense of what she sees. Valerie Goodwin intends to communicate and she forces us to think about our relationship to the land, to history, to design.  For example, she throws together images of a modern city with the brutal memory of slavery, reminding us that history is never over. Again architecture, fibre technique and maps combine.

Valerie’s Bio

Valerie Goodwin has a Bachelor’s degree from Yale and a Masters in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis. She has been a professor of architecture for many years. Valerie is amazingly prolific for someone with a day job. Her work has been accepted into countless juried and invitational exhibitions, many times winning Honourable Mention or Best in Show. She exhibits sometimes five times a year. So how is it that Valerie Goodwin has had time to write all those articles and now a book, called Art Quilt Maps: Capture a Sense of Place with Fiber Collage? As well, Valerie maintains a busy teaching schedule all over the US. We are fortunate to have her here for the Maiwa Symposium. She has won awards as an artist, as a quilt maker, and as a teacher.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review - Beyond Tradition

Diana Sanderson of the Silk Weaving Studio
introducing the evening.
On Thursday Sept 4, Professor Masayoshi Ohashi took the audience through an incredible survey of the textile artisans who preceded him and talked about how their influences shaped his own formidable body of work. With a mixture of humour and wit, Ohashi introduced provocative new ways to think about dyeing. For example, he became fascinated with the gradations formed when cloth is dipped into indigo. If the cloth is not fully immersed, the colour creeps up the cloth as the water soaks the fabric.

Professor Masayoshi Ohashi

Ohashi considered this moment and perceived it as a line - a border that marks the region where the water has traveled and which separates it from the regions where the water chose not to go. It became the basis for a body of work called "Water Carries Colour" some of which will be on exhibit at the Silk Weaving Studio between September 5 and 26, 2014.

Even those familiar with the traditional clamp resist technique (known in Japan as itajime) were astounded with the possible variations that Professor Ohashi presented. One variation on itajime involves cutting a space out of the resist block. In the past this technique was refined to the point where up to 40 individual blocks (each about 12 x 16 inches) were carved to create either repeating imagery or figurative work. Through his own research Ohashi determined that historic blocks were made from a very particular type of pine tree. He was able to locate a stand and in his words he "purchased a tree." The image below shows the itajime boards that he created from this tree and the resulting print. He also exhibited historic boards that were used in Japan during the Edo period. It was the first time that these rare objects have left Japan. 

Itajime boards are used in a manner which is the exact opposite of blockprinting. The higher areas do not carry colour, rather they create a physical resist. The dye pools into the "rooms" that have been carved out and contacts the cloth in these open spaces.

Carved itajime boards and the resulting print.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review - The Legendary Nuno Corporation

In a post-industrial world where cloth and its manufacture are so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible, we hope to reinvest fabric with meaning and, through the work of skilled hands, rediscover its many pleasures.
With those words, Charllotte Kwon opened the 2014 Maiwa Textile Sympsoium. She handed the microphone to Diana Sanderson of the Silk Weaving Studio, who introduced the first speaker of the lecture series.

Reiko Sudo of the Nuno Corporation

Reiko Sudo is the creative force behind the legendary Nuno Corporation. A company that has combined traditional hand-weaving techniques with many innovations designed to manipulate the texture, hand, and presence of the cloth. When Reiko took over the Nuno Corporation, she was told she would be lucky if she could keep it going for another three years. It has now been running for more than thirty.

Speaking to a sell-out crowd, Reiko described her many cutting-edge processes. Such as using a culinary blow torch to burn through the fibers by hand in very specific locations. It was, she said, like making a cloth crème brûlée. Also shown were images of a time consuming origami technique so complex that it takes three skilled artisans an entire day to fold a single meter. The audience engaged Reiko with questions after the formal presentation and Reiko explained how she and the Nuno Corporation commission both hand-weavers and industrial mills to play a part in the production of extraordinary cloths.

Reiko gave her lecture after presenting the first workshop of the 2014 Textile symposium, the Sudo Salon. Students spent a full day with Reiko learning the philosophy and motivation through which cloth is deconstructed and remade to achieve imaginative and diverse results.


Tonight's (Sept 4) lecture is Beyond Tradition by Masayoshi Ohashi. It is the second night of incredible textiles flowing from Japanese traditions and into the future. Tickets are available at the door.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Water Carries Colour, Water Waves Air

Water Carries Colour, Water Waves Air 

Reiko Sudo of Nuno Corporation 
Prof. Masayoshi Ohashi, 
Tokyo Zokei University of Art and Design

Two Lectures and an Exhibition

LECTURE: The Legendary Nuno Corporation
Reiko Sudo, Sept 3 

LECTURE: Beyond Tradition
Masayoshi Ohashi, Sept 4

EXHIBITION September 5 - 26
10-5 daily

Opening Reception:
Friday September 5, 6-8 pm
1531 Johnston St (on waterfront next to Sandbar Restaurant)
Granville Island, Vancouver Canada

Free Admission. Please RSVP to 604-687-7455

Reiko Sudo was born in 1953 and studied painting before focusing on textile design and hand weaving at Musashino Art University, Tokyo (1975), where she also taught.
She joined the Nuno Corporation in 1984 and since 1987 has been the design director as well as Professor at Tokyo Zokei University. Her inspiring experimental textiles have been exhibited worldwide and feature in many museum collections.  Nuno means “functional fabric” and the Nuno Corporation, which began as a specialist textile shop in Tokyo is now recognized as a world leader in the design of experimental contemporary fashion and interior textiles. Tapping into both high and low-tech solutions and using synthetic and natural fibers, Nuno has pushed forward the boundaries of textile design in terms of both technology and aesthetics.  
The Nuno Corporation specializes in a number of experimental techniques including warp-printing, applied decoration such as embroidery and overstitching (sashiko). Abstract patterns are also a feature of its flocked, heat-shrunk, and salt-shrunk fabrics, although texture, colour, sheen and translucency are the primary characteristics of these textiles. Nuno has exerted a huge impact on the textile industry internationally with innovations in fashion fabrics spilling out into furnishings.
Reiko Sudo was invited to Vancouver by the Silk Weaving Studio and Maiwa Textile Symposium as a role model for the integration of craft, art and industry.

 Jun’ichi Arai and the Nuno Corporation

In 1984 Arai founded the Nuno Corporation.  
Jun’ichi Arai grew up in the craft-weaving centre of Kiryu, a small town north of Tokyo, and established himself as an independent designer in 1955.  Arai  pioneered the use of computers and scanners in translating complex textile designs for the loom. “Fine contemporary cloths are the results fo the human spirit and new technology working hand in hand,” he observed.

Although Junichi Arai began working independently, Nuno’s free spirited approach to textiles has continued up to the present day under the inspired leadership of Reiko Sudo, the company’s director and chief designer.