fibreQuarterly volume 2 Issue 3 Summer 06


  Finishing School


 An Education in Textiles  

There are many ways of getting a technical based textile education in Canada ; Universities and Colleges provide numerous courses and approaches in the material arts.  With the recent elevation of some Art Colleges to University levels, you can do a diploma or Degree and continue through to achieve a Masters and Doctorate in Textiles.  This is a relatively new and welcome phenomenon, giving Textile Arts the academic respect they have not always had.  

Formerly, specializing in art history with a focus on textile traditions, costume design, and history, or even chemistry, was one way of moving through the university system to achieve an acceptable degree.  Painting or other "Studio Arts", without a focus on fibre based arts, has been the standard route.  While Community Colleges, with a nodding acknowledgement to the Bauhaus adage "Form follows Function", taught industrial production and had oriented surface design towards fashion or interior design applications.  Functional art, rather than art for art’s sake. 

The Community Colleges, developed almost forty years ago, were to act as job training centres, replacing the almost defunct apprenticeship tradition.  The industrial jobs in textiles that people were being trained for, along with the industry itself, no longer exist in this country, except in rare cases.  With employment no longer being the main focus / result of this training, there is more opportunity for an innovative, creative approach to fibre and textiles "Arts".  Now all directions are supported from first year through post doc.

This is the first article taking a look at the students coming out of the current educational process.  A process that is changing: as computers that require little classroom space are taking the place of yardage screening tables.  In May, at the Arta Gallery in Toronto’s historic “Distillery District”, I encountered the 2006 graduating class of Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning’s Textile Department, and offered them this space in which to introduce themselves and to participate in an ongoing series of ”Check Ups", in the tradition of the documentary film series "14 Up", but in web form. 


The Textiles Studio, Crafts & Design Program, Sheridan College

The Textiles Studio at Sheridan Institute offers one of the few training programs in Canada for those interested in pursuing a career as a professional craft practitioner.  With an excellent technologist, faculty and facilities, the studio is focussed on developing each student to their full potential.  During a student’s time in the studio, they engage in a broad range of textile techniques, including felt and paper making, heat-setting, dying, printing, stitching and constructing surfaces. They also learn both mixed media and digital surface design skills.  

Throughout their studies, students are encouraged to explore the possibilities inherent in materials and to experiment, observe and respond through their work. There are many options for students upon leaving the program; graduates may focus their practice on one-off or commissioned work, small batch production, textiles for theatre and film or design for large-scale production. The focus of the studio is to enable students to design and create richly imaginative and creative textile work.


Class of 2006

When I saw their show at Arta Gallery I was intrigued by the diversity of the work given that over the years Sheridan's faculties provide the space and equipment for large scale repeat pattern screening of yardage. Printed cloth was to be expected and though the processing varied the over all quality was consistent and high. It was the individual approach and usage that made both the exhibition and allowed each artist to show unique work.

Not all the students are presented here due to the time frame to pull this together and it is Amy Belanger I must thank for coordinating who is presented here.  Amy is continuing her fibre education at NSCAD this fall, while two others Nora Deacon and Thea Hains are now in residence at the Harbourfront Centre's Craft Studio on Toronto lakefront . One other Ange Yake has taken up studio space at in Mississauga's Living Arts Centre. With short artist bios and six images six of the artist will speak for themselves below. Due to tree planting, getting married, preparing for the Toronto Out Door Show and other circumstances those who are not presented here will be added as they come in.

Artist currently on line: Amy Belanger Kate Busby: Norah Deacon  Thea Haines Bettina Lee  Lee Maszaros Ange Yake 


Amy Belanger: Amy Belanger is a recent graduate of Sheridan College’s Craft and Design textile program. She will soon be based in Halifax at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design continuing her education in textiles and pursuing her interests in sustainable design. Her work integrates reclaimed and natural fabrics with handmade qualities, which emphasize the natural disintegration of materials. Amy has a background in environmental resource studies. She visited an eco-community in Costa Rica, worked on organic farms in New Zealand, and was involved with various outdoor education programs around the Toronto Area. These experiences along with her work in textiles have encouraged her interest in global sustainability.  

As part of her sustainable efforts, Amy has always enjoyed finding odd and interesting vintage objects and clothing. She incorporates these findings in her work, whether it is in choice of fabrics or in design. She uses scrap fabrics, old clothing, bedroom linens, and various silk screening, sewing or embellishing techniques to create each piece individually. It is important to Amy, while two pieces can be alike, that each one be one of a kind. She wants the wearer to feel as though they have stumbled across something highly unlikely.

Amy recently completed a collection called Ode to the Wilderness, shown at Arta Gallery in May 2006. The work is a playful tale about personal heritage including two outfits, faux mink accessories, and a series of dolls. The garments are made with found fabrics. They are dyed, layered and sculpted with an organic sensibility. Each is silkscreen printed with images of old letters and postcards collected from storage spaces, vintage shops and family albums. The dolls are illustrated with family members representing different generations. The collection acts as an interpretation of family history, which references traditional garments, such as fur accessories and flannel plaids, and romanticizes about a culture that prevailed in a time of war and hardships.  


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1. ILLUSTRATED FAMILY DOLLS IN CASE, Natural linen, found fabrics, pigment  Case 8”x12”, Dolls 6”x3”  Illustrations, silkscreen printing, machine sewing, Jan 2006


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2. ODE TO THE WILDERNESS OUTFITS - Collection  Reclaimed Fabrics (bed linens, used clothing), dye,  Size 10,  Hand dyeing and printing, draping, garment construction, machine sewing, and embellishing,  Jan- June 2006 

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3. ODE TO THE WILDERNESS - Minks  Wool and found fabrics  15”x 3.5” Machine and hand sewing, layering, and construction   May 2006


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4. PAPER CAST SHELF  Abaca paper pulp, linen, dye  25” x 20”  Shelf construction, casting, and silkscreen printing, Jan 2006


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5. TEA POT AND CUP (detail)  Abaca paper pulp  5” x 6”  Paper casting,  Jan 2006

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IN MEMORY OF,  Reclaimed Fabrics  14” x 10”  Cutting out designs and drawing with thread  Aug 2005


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Kate Busby:  

My passion for craft stems from my desire to create intimacy between people and their belongings. I believe that craft speaks a language; it expresses the beauty of touch and texture, the excitement of colour and design, and the ability of an object to take in memories. As a textile artist I strive to create well-crafted, functional objects. I feel that in our present culture quality and beauty are being overlooked as demand to follow changing trends mean that goods are quickly bought and discarded. I want to create textiles that will be cherished by their owners, and appreciated for their lasting aesthetic and durability.

I studied fine art and art history at the University of Toronto. My love of collage, texture, and pattern led to an interest in textiles, and they became an integral part of my work. My interest turned from fine arts to craft, and I went on to study textiles in the Crafts and Design program at Sheridan College. This provided me with the skills to dye and print my own fabrics. As an artist I struggled with the physical barrier between my work and the viewer; my work’s emphasis on texture was lost due to the audience’s apprehension to touch artwork. As a craftsperson I am able to create functional objects, this means that I am able to connect with the user through both sight and touch.

My recent work consists of large-scale pieced blankets that combine bold colour, varied texture, and a playful mixture of pattern. My blankets are designed through collage, and then embellished. I combine many fabrics, including wool, silk, felt, and velveteen, to create surfaces that can be explored and appreciated. The majority of the fabrics I use are hand dyed and hand printed, I also incorporate hand stitch and embroidery into my work. I believe that hand stitching speaks a language; its narrative references the maker, and alludes to the human element inherent to all craft.



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1. SHIRLEY BLANKET , Silk, wool, linen, cotton, velveteen, embroidery floss, yarn,  54” x 80”,  Hand dyeing and printing, machine pieced, embellished, tie quilted,  April 2006 

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2. REBECCA BLANKET (detail)  Cotton, wool, linen, silk, velveteen, embroidery floss, 61” x 76”, 60” x 40” detail,  Hand dyeing and printing, machine pieced, embellished, machine quilted,  December 2005


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3. REBECCA BLANKET (detail)  Cotton, wool, linen, silk, velveteen, embroidery floss, 61” x 76”, 26” x 18”,  Hand dyeing and printing, machine pieced, embellished, machine quilted, December 2005



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4. LAURA,  Silk, wool, and cotton, glass beads, embroidery floss, 25” x 38”,  Discharge and dye printing, machine pieced, embellished,  February 2005


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5.LAURA (detail)  Discharge and dye on silk, wool, and cotton, glass beads, embroidery floss,  25” x 38”, 11” x 17” , Discharge and dye printing, machine pieced, embellished,  February 2005


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6. BUTTON SAMPLE, Wool suiting, cotton, pattern tissue, ribbon, buttons,  11” x 8”  Digital printing, collage, embellished,  December 2005


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Norah Deacon’s Artist Biography  

I am interested in the relationships that people have with their belongings. I believe that craftspeople have the opportunity to make objects that people connect with, giving them reason to hold on to their possessions. My aim is to make work that is timeless and treasured, invoking a connection with the collector. I create both functional and sculptural work using a range of materials and processes. These include natural fibres such as linen, wool delaine, silk pongee, velveteen, yarns and handmade paper, in combination with silk-screening, devoré, stitch, needlelace and other handwork.  

 Prior to my three years in the Craft and Design Textile Program at Sheridan College, I studied Studio Art and Art History at the University of Guelph. I focused on photography and printmaking for my studio classes and I completely immersed myself in Art History. These four years formed a strong foundation from which I have drawn many of my ideas of art as well as craft. My time at Sheridan has continued to expand my viewpoint. Through refining my technical skill, I have developed a visual language to better express myself. I have recently begun a three-year residency at the Harbourfront Centre’s Craft Studio. Harbourfront provides the support needed to continue my development as a craftsperson, while exposing me to and including me in the larger world of makers, exhibitions and workshops.  

My most recent body of work speaks of my fascination with the detail and care sewn into vintage garments, handkerchiefs, gloves, linens and antique lace. Working with handmade paper, linen and devoré in a sculptural manner, this work references vulnerability and the strength that can be found within it. There is an inherent fragility in delicate garments, while at the same time a tangible sense of security. The custom of heirlooms and passing objects from generation to generation is increasingly becoming less common. I aim to create garments that offer a level of attachment in a world of increasing disposability.  


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1. Paper Dress, Handmade abaca paper & lace, Approx. 10 in. x 3 in. x 1.5 in. January 2006


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2. Lace Patterned Slip (detail) Linen, devoré & appliqué, Size 6 November 2005


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3. Lace Patterned Slip (detail) Linen, stitch, polyester thread & devoré Size 6, November 2005



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4. Lace Linen Intimates, Linen, cotton & devoré, 6 in. x 18 in. & 8 in. x 13 in., February/March 2006


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5. Lace Linen Undies, Linen, cotton & devoré, 8 in x 13 in. February/March 2006


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6. Yellow Paper Undies, Handmade abaca paper & dye, 8 in x 13 in. February/March 2006


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Thea Haines:  

I have always been fascinated with the relationship that people have with their belongings – which are discarded, which are cherished? When I admire the everyday items that my grandmothers made, I see they are simply quilts and tablecloths, skilfully made, yet they are something more – beautiful objects.  

I am interested in clothing and its relationship its wearer as well as the viewer. With that in mind I create garments that tell stories or exhibit different personalities. Many of these garments are somewhat nostalgic in their temperament; aprons, circle skirts and cardigan sweaters are the clothing of yesteryear. I include interactive elements with these garments, such as brooches that are removable and can be worn with other clothes. I also create story-book-like illustrations using machine embroidery, cutwork, tufting and appliqué. I use only natural fibre fabrics– cotton velvet, linen, silk and wool, which allow for hand- dyeing and screenprinting with transparent dyes.  

My most recent work, Dream House is series of ‘storybook’ aprons exploring domesticity, childhood, adulthood, love and nostalgia. In the past, women collected linens in hope chests, the contents of which reflected her desires for the future. While gathering her  trousseau, a woman contemplated her future, and the cloth became permeated with her wishes and dreams. Each apron acts as a vehicle conveying different stories of future lives, speaking to each of our emotional needs and material desires that might compose our own Dream House, the vessel in which all our hopes and emotions are contained.

Prior to graduating from the three-year course in Textiles at Sheridan College’s Craft and Design Program, I completed a combined Honours Degree in Studio Art and Comparative Literature at McMaster University. My studio thesis work consisted of primarily painting, printmaking and sewn construction exploring narratives of human relationships influenced by my studies in literature. Presently I have just begun a three-year residency in textiles at Harbourfront Centre’s Craft Studio. My love of literature and story-telling will continue to inform my work for years to come.  


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1. Dream House Aprons, installation view,  Aprons – Screen print with dyes on linen,  Birds – Screen print with dyes on cotton velvet; wool, wool fleece.  183cm x 214cm  2006 

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2. Dream House Aprons, detail.  2006


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3. We’ll build a house in the clearing. Embroidery and cutwork on linen 31cm x 26cm 2006


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4. Our wedding cake covered in cherries. Embroidery and appliqué on linen  25cm x 25cm 2006 

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5. Black apples. Embroidery, appliqué, reverse appliqué and cutwork on linen, 24cm x 18.5cm 2006


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6. Briar Patch,  Polychromatic screen print with dyes on cotton velvet,  76cm x 128cm,  2005 


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Bettina Lee 

Bettina Lee is a recent graduate of the Craft and Design textile studio, at Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. She began her education in Sheridan’s Art Fundamentals Program, where she developed her skills in visual studies. Her interests in construction and illustration led her to continue on to Sheridan’s textile program.  

Raised in Peterborough, Bettina spent her childhood surrounded by nature. Memories of roaming hills, forests, creeks, and an abundance of plant life have instilled her with a love and appreciation for the natural world. Bettina draws on these memories to create images of nature, a recurring theme in her work. Through her designs, Bettina shows the fragility and deterioration of nature, expressed through her use of unfinished edges and the delicateness of her pieces.  

Bettina’s recent work includes capelets and scarves made with delicate silks, cottons, and wool. She creates beautiful surfaces through dying, silk-screening, appliqué, and stitch. Her use of multiple colours, placement prints, and varied embellishment techniques, allow for one of a kind pieces within a series. For her Capelet Series, Bettina took inspiration from the Victorian era, evoking its romantic qualities within her work. This series, along with her scarves, were displayed at her latest exhibition, She’s Crafty, at Arta Gallery in May 2006.



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1. Capelet #1 Materials: cotton velvet, silk pongee, silk dupioni, remazol dyes and thread, Dimensions: 16in x w 28in, Process: winched dyed, pot dyed, ruffled, silk-screened and free motion machine stitched, February 2006 

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2. Untitled, Materials: merino wool, reclaimed fabric, 100% cotton and thread, Dimensions: 5in x 90in, Process: Hand felted, discharged printed, appliquéd and free motion machine stitched  November 2005 

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3, Untitled sample, Materials: Linen, leather, ribbon, buttons and thread, Dimensions: 5in x 8in Process: appliquéd, embellishment and hand stitched, 2004


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4  untitled, Materials: silk dupioni, remazol dyes, discharge print paste and thread, Dimensions: 6in x 42in, Process: Pot dyed, silk-screened, discharge, cut away and free motion machine embroidery,  April 2006


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5  Felt Leaf Scarf, Materials: merino wool, silk dupioni, remazol dye, and thread, Dimensions: 6in x 42in, Process: hand felted, pot dyed, silk-screened, cut away and free motion machine embroidery, April 2006


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6. untitled, Materials: silk dupioni, remazol dyes, pigment and thread Dimensions: 6in x 24 in, Process: Pot dyed, silk-screened, cut away and free motion machine embroidery,  April 2006


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Lee Maszaros  

"All personal relationships are complex and fragile. They can go from being blissfully harmonious, to bitterly disjointed in a few precious moments. It is these moments of intense feeling and emotion that are universal to all. My work revolves around these feelings of joy and sadness, of secrets and stories. I explore the art of storytelling and illustration through textiles and mixed media. I am inspired by things close to me, which also hold universal nostalgia in their own right.

Books, bicycles, humans and hearts are all commonly explored images within my work. My textile procedures include screen printing pigment on cotton as well as on paper, digital printing, tea dyeing, machine embroidery, and fabric collage. My work is then strengthened by the addition of non-textile elements, such as paper collage, markers, and pens. I am also very interested in the important role which scale can play in my work. Very large and commanding elements, mixed with very precious and petite elements, have the ability to create tension and dialogue within a piece.

In the future I plan to continue to explore the blending of traditional textile processes with other disciplines and materials. In the fall of 2006 I will begin the second phase of my textile education, attending the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. I think this opportunity will allow me the freedom to pursue my ideas in a new and fresh environment."  



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1: Page from the artists book Double Dutch. Materials: Craft paper, markers, silk-screened pigment, appliquéd fabric, marker transferred photocopy. April 2006

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2. Self Portrait, Materials: Silk-screened pigment on cotton, hand painted pigment. September 2005

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3. 6 Cases: a study of books. Materials: Silk-screened pigment on unbleached and bleached cottons, handwritten fonts, thread, found fabrics. December 2005


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4. It’s a Pressing Matter. Materials: pen, marker, watercolour paper, pencil crayon.  June 2006

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5: Woven Sample, Materials: Digitally printed cotton, black cotton, thread. December 2005


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6: Bicycle, Materials: pigment on unbleached cotton, fabric markers. October 2005.



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Ange Yake - Textile Artist  

I am a recent honours graduate from the 3 Year Craft and Design - Textile Program at Sheridan College, in Oakville. My keen interest in fabrics and textile design started in high school, where I was introduced to all of the different dying and tie dye techniques by my teacher from Africa. After learning these methods, I became fascinated with fabrics which ultimately led me to attend Sheridan’s Craft and Design Program. Designing textiles for interior applications is my passion. The inspiration for my work comes from objects in nature, textural qualities, and a desire to refresh old objects and reuse materials. My imagery incorporates free-hand sketches with digital design techniques to produce motifs and final concepts.

The use of the polychromatic screen printing technique enables me to create hand painted elements in my work. The patterns that emerge have a textural quality and reflect depth through over-printing. Working with this method allows me the freedom to create surface texture and layering, leading to rich colours.

I merge design techniques such as devoré printing and polychromatic screen printing to further enhance the look of textures and layers. The use of diverse fabrics such as cotton, linen and rayon further contributes to the creation of surface texture. I manipulate my fabrics through devoré printing, layering, cutting and machine stitching to create depth, surface texture, and patterns within my designs.  

I am currently a Textile Resident artist at the Living Arts Centre, in Mississauga, Ontario, which will provide me with an opportunity to further advance my hands-on creative expression with textiles. This exposure will provide the prospect of connecting and interacting with other artists, professionals and the public.



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1. Classic Keepsake, Materials: Linen, Rayon, Thread, Dimensions: 17.5" Dia. Process: Pot Dyeing, Devoré, Machine Stitching. March 2006


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2. Classic Comfort, Materials: Antique Fabric, Linen, Dye, Thread. Dimensions: 28”h x 29”d x 28”w, Process: Pot Dyeing, Devoré, Machine Stitching. March 2006

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3. Three Swirl, Materials: Linen, Remazol Dyes, Dye Crayons, Thread, Dimensions: 29”h x 84”w, Process: Polychromatic Screen Printing. December 2005


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4. Rusted Side Bar Detail Materials: Linen, Remazol Dyes, Dye Crayons, Metallic Thread, Dimensions: 35”h x 17”w, Process: Polychromatic Screen Printing. December 2005


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5. Textured Squares, Materials: Cotton, Linen, Remazol Dyes, Devoré, Thread, Dimensions: 14”h x 7”w. Process: Pot Dyeing, Devoré, Machine Stitching. February 2006


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6. Polychromatic Exploration , Materials: Linen, Remazol Dyes Dimensions: 52”h x 30”w. Process: Polychromatic Screen Printing. November 2005

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 fibreQuarterly volume 2 Issue 3 Summer 06