Dolls, Fibre Scultpures and Costumes

The show is on now in the Enterprise Square gallery on Jasper (in Edmonton).

My doll won first prize in its category!

Vrouw Holle – Or – When housework Controlled the Weather

When I was a child in the Netherlands, I had a snow globe with a woman shaking a pillow to make it snow. This was Vrouw Holle. When she swept the floor she created the dunes that blocked the sea, when she washed, it rained. When it stormed she rode with the Wild Hunt gathering unwary souls. She ruled her own underworld. Strong women who cleaned “messes” and created change are part of my heritage. This piece is dedicated to my mother (Johanna Breijer 1930 – 2015) who spent decades working for women behind the scenes in Alberta politics.

An original design, cloth sculpture, completed February 2016.

Size: Total height 49cm (figure 41cm), Width 31 cm, Depth 17cm

Materials: Skin; 100% cotton, Dress; unknown fibre, Cape; silk, Hair; tea dyed mohair, Polyester Stuffing, Wire armature, Base & broom; wood, Glass beads, found objects, jewelry bits, assorted paints.

Vrouw Holle

Vrouw Holle Front view


Back view

Vrouw Holle

Vrouw Holle

Slowly because there will be renovations.  We are getting a grant from the city to help with some basic “get up to code”  and insulation things.  So sometime soon the house will turn into a disaster zone as all the electrical work will be mostly redone and maybe the plumbing and the insulation in the attic.

We had hoped for the windows facing the north side too but there have been too many ” Oh ….um ……… Why did they do that this way?” “What were they thinking off?” “How much of this wall/ceiling can we take down?” “Ooooh now that is interesting….” each of which costs lots of money.  The electrical will HAVE to be done because the grant people sent an inspector to determine how safe it is……

I have to have 2 quotes for everything – which means calling and leaving message and calling some more.  We now have the plumbing covered.  One quote for the heating/air condioning, one for the insulation, one for windows, one for the electrical is in the works.  The rest are all still in the message holding pattern.

If we can’t do the window in the front then my studio moves into my bedroom and my bedroom into that room.  That way I sleep in the cold room and can work in the warmest room. Light isn’t everything and power here is very expensive.

On the good side my  doll “Vrouw Holle” was accepted into the “Focus on Fibre” show!!!!

Vrouw Holle

Vrouw Holle

I am very thankful for this!  This doll with its deadline was what helped me break the “Ice Wall” around my art.  In order to meet the deadline I had to focus on my art work, to find the tools, the fabric, the patterns.  I had to develop a way to work, I had to show up at the desk and focus.  To have her accepted into the show was the final kick to get me back.  The next few pieces are already in my head and as soon as the renos are done I will buckle down, make art, open an Etsy store and do the work.

I am also in the process of designing a knitting pattern for a pair of lace fingerless gloves.  More on that when it is finished because writing out and graphing lace patterns when one is somewhat dyslexic is tricky!

Rendezvous Gloves

Rendezvous Gloves


Photo Adventure

I worked hard on my entry for the Focus on Fibre  call for entries.  I managed to finish it for the early bird entry. Then came the whole “Fun with Cameras”!

The photos required have to be un edited which meant good lighting and good shots.  Something that is not my forte.  However my sister has taken workshops on photography and video.

Take one:  Everything set up, grey fabric ironed and pinned to the wall, sun bouncing off the other wall and white board.  My camera.  The over all shots are not bad.  Close ups are fuzzy no matter which settings we try.

Take two:  My sisters camera.  Dead in the water.

Take Three: My mothers old camera.  Light is fading and tripod breaks and camera just sort of limply hangs sideways on it unless propped up somehow.  Pictures not bad but resolution too low for the guidelines.  Light goes.

Take Four:  next morning.  Grey fabric washed to remove stain – where the hell did that come from.  Try white fabric to see if more light helps with various cameras.  Still no good closeups and most of the pictures are at an angle due to the jury rigged tripod.

Take Five: Video camera.  Might work if we can find the thing that reads a 3.5 inch floppy.

Take Six:  Grey fabric back up because I suddenly remembered that my tablet also takes pictures.  I shoot a few and they look good.  I email them to my self to get them to my computer because I can’t figure out how else to do this.

They look great.  I do edit them to cut out some edges and to make her stand straight.

All through this we were assisted by the cat and dog.  The cat hiding under the little table covered with fabric so he could attack the dog as she walked by.

Vrouw Holle

Vrouw Holle

More details to follow.

Back in the Closet?

A lot has happened since I last posted.  Holidays in Jasper with my daughter, and six weeks in Whitehorse with my oldest daughter.  I needed that time to try and find myself back somewhat. It has been harder then I expected. Almost 4 years of intense care giving  has left my mind in a rut where it wants to keep me ready to jump up and do everyone’s bidding.  That means not working on my art work because it will get interrupted.  My mind thinks I still need to “thread water” marking time.

My father decided that he wanted to live in a seniors residence with other people of his age so he moved out in August and deeded the house to my sister.  So when I returned from Whitehorse we renovated and redecorated.  We removed the formerly white carpet (what was my mother thinking off!?!), painted, and put down new flooring.  I now have my own bedroom and we moved the studio upstairs.

work space

work space


Sewing area


Cutting space and inspiration wall

What you are not seeing is the wonderful big north facing window.  The very very cold big north facing window, in the coldest room in the house, in Edmonton where it regularly gets down to -25c as a high for the day.

Now my new bedroom is in the centre of the house in a nice warm room.  It is the former study and it has two very big closets, one that was used for the computer with a desk built in so it could be locked away when my parents were gone.  So for the third time I reorganized my studio space.  I emptied the boxes of my yarn to under the very cold window (more insulation), I sorted and shredded a lot of person papers and cleared a space in my closet.

View from the bed

View from the bed

work space in the closet

work space in the closet

Note the space for the cat.  There was another space on the other side but he preferred to be where the lamp was. The body parts are part of a project for the fibre arts group  call for submissions.

So for the first time since 1979 I am back in the closet – until spring.  I am looking forward to spring.

I am Back!

Well sort off, almost, will be soon.

My mother died in April after a really difficult year of spiralling downwards.  During the last year I haven’t blogged because there was nothing I really wanted to share here.  I shared on caregiver sites but this was supposed to be my art site and all I have done in this last year has been to knit.  I knitted endlessly this last year and my daughters have been inundated with knit goods, innumerable hats, socks, shawls, cowls, and shrugs – even their boyfriends got stuff!

Knitting helped me survive.  It can be picked up and dropped at a moments notice, unlike art work.  It helps me zone out – 1, 2 ,3 ,4 , Yarn over, K2tog, repeat – it requires just enough focus to calm the mind and keeps the hands busy.  The bright colours made me feel good.  Nothing was really original, I didn’t want to think or design, that was too demanding.

Some of the items:

Silver fox scarf

Silver fox scarf



lace hat

lace hat

I am slowly finding myself back.  I cleaned of part of my studio desk that had become the parking place for all sorts of stuff.  I have thought about finishing projects I started the last 3 years but I am not there yet.  Tomorrow my youngest daughter comes to visit for 2 weeks and we plan to do a lot of fun things and sight seeing.  Then in July I am going to Whitehorse to help my other daughter recover from surgery.  In August my father moves to a supported living facility because he is too lonely and feels trapped in the house now that mom is gone.  Once he moves we get to redecorate the house to our liking – and we can deal with the hundred of gnomes my mother collected.

But between all that I will get my art work off the ground again.  I promise.

Spring – sort off

It is spring, or at least it keeps trying to be spring.  We had a nice 3 inches of snow on Good Friday but it is going up again today so it should be gone by tonight.  The Easter Bunny won’t have to mush its dog team through the snow to get here. At least it is light when I walk the dog in the morning, it is past the point where I am watching the pretty sun rises.

On the home front, we now have a doctor who comes to the house to see my mother, which is a huge relief.  The new caregiver is great.  A nice young man who is strong and gentle too and the parents like him.  Things are still sliding slowly downhill but now I have resources I can call on.  I am going weekly to meditation.  It is very simple introduction level but it is just what I need, escape on Thursday nights.  Health wise I saw the clinic for pelvic floor issues and it is not as scary as I thought, though the oestrogen therapy lasted only 4 days, and caused mental fog and migraines, so it is going to be exercises and probably an operation eventually in the future.  But a huge weight has been lifted off my mind and I can now start working out again. As soon as the snow disappears, again, I will start running.

Talking of escape, I am going to Jasper for 5 days in the begin of May on a knitting retreat.  The retreat is only the weekend but I decided to add some days to it.  My youngest sister is coming for a week and taking over from me.  I plan to spend a lot of time walking, taking pictures and doing art.

In the meantime I have been knitting socks. I also crocheted a hat that just abut killed my wrist.  Tight crochet into the back of the stitch required a twist of the wrist that it didn’t like AT ALL!!  So I am currently wearing a wrist brace and Dad’s socks have been being knit continental style (yarn in my left hand) which made them a bit slower.

Mom's socks

Mom’s socks

Mom's other socks with cat

Mom’s other socks with cat

Vanessa's bed sock with dog

Vanessa’s bed sock with dog

Dad's socks

Dad’s socks

Vanessa's hat

Vanessa’s hat

Retail Therapy

I know, you haven’t heard from me for  while, not even a Christmas greeting.  I just didn’t want to fill the airwaves with all that negativity.  Let us just pretend that the so called “holiday season” didn’t happen along with the health issues and flus and other frustrations.  We have a new health care team and home care team in place so I can breathe again.  I now have a set of professionals in geriatrics I can call upon when I have questions.

The whole “prairie fibre arts” design never happened for me.  Just not enough consecutive hours free to mark up and sew the design.   It hurt badly but  I am over that now.  Forget the dolls and art work for the time being.  I can’t work long enough to get “into the zone” at any given time.  Doing it upstairs means comments from the peanut gallery and constant interruptions – that doesn’t help with the stress either so I am sticking with knitting.

My daughters and granddaughter came for a visit in January and it coincided with a week of warm weather so we were able to walk and do fun things on Whyte Avenue.  Yes I bought clothes, lovely linen top and pants.  Then to top that off I went online.  Way back in May my oldest daughter gave me an Indigo gift certificate and since then I have looked and looked but never bought so I sat down and ordered books on art.  Then she gave us an Amazon gift certificate and I ordered more books and some music.  They have been arriving in little packages since then.  It makes getting the mail so much more exciting!  I only had one dud – music.  Once upon a time I had a lovely tape with “Chants to the Divine Mother” Which I had picked up in California, Harbin Hot Springs where I took my shiatsu training.  I loved that music but the tape died in a the fire/flood back in 2005, it was not the water so much as the disintegrating ceiling tiles crap that turned to concrete that did the damage.   Well this version was sort of like listening to the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing Janis Joplin songs….  sad sad.

I also ordered yarn from Knitpiks and used a Micheals coupon to get more yarn to make socks.  This will be the main expression for the next little while.



There will be a variety of socks the fuzzy red will become bed socks for my youngest, the bag of pima cotton will become multi coloured socks for me and the rest will be house socks for Mother.  The elastic on her current socks is getting to tight for her diabetic feet.  I made socks for Dad too last year.  He just found them and finally tried them on.  Now I can’t get them off his feet to finish weaving in the thread.  I guess I will have to make him some more mud coloured ones.

These are my socks I have been working on.  I must be feeling less stressed because I keep wanting to work on them instead of surfing the net!  Yes they are that bright pink.  These are my first top down socks with western style heels, my first heel flaps and gusset heels!

My socks, top down with turned heels

My socks, top down with turned heels

Tonight I am going to meditation.  I tried last week but it was cancelled as the leader was stuck on a plane somewhere between here and Afghanistan…..We will see if I can manage their style.