World of Threads Festival

 

“This fall I found myself wandering the halls of Queen Elizabeth Park Community Centre, lost in a magical world of color, texture, and innovation.

As someone who sews, knits and has studied textiles, I thought I knew quite a but about the world of fibers and threads. However I had been missing out on a traditional medium of incredible creativity, referred to as fiber and textile art.

You have till November 27th to visit this amazing exhibit. There are 315 textile artworks by 134 artists, from 24 different countries being displayed for viewing at no cost. The non-for-profit World of Threads Festival began in 1993 as a single exhibit called the Celebration of Craft.

The medium of fiber art goes back to the ancient Egyptians who created elaborate decorative tapestries, which later became fabric designs.

Today we see a variety of materials and techniques being used – from plant to synthetic fibers, and quilting to embroidery. Instead of a strictly practical use for the fibers and textiles these artists find ways to illicit a message. These works of art put more focus on the craft rather than the intellectual meaning

The festival has grown over the years, creating a community for local artists and curators. The addition of a weekly artist interview series has pushed the audience internationally to 90 different countries. I had the chance to briefly speak with a couple of the artists involved.

For instance Gwen Lowery spends up to 2 months developing a single piece. Working mainly with machine and hand embroidery, creating colourful, eye catching, and geometric works. Lowery’s 7 towers and 3 canvases of art can be found in the “Cosmic Geometry” section of the World of Threads exhibit.

But how do these artists get involved in such a specific craft? Lowery explained,

“Since I was a child, I have always made clothes, knitted, and embroidered. Eventually, I got tired of using the specific patterns created by others and started having thoughts about creating my own work.”

Marilyn Clarke another artist from the festival creates with a different technique. She uses free motion stitching, much like drawing with pencil but with a sewing needle. It comes together as an intricate surface of light, depth and motion. From a distance one might think its is an acrylic or oil painting.

When describing her craft she said, “I use the darker threads to emphasize shapes and lighter threads romp across the surface to instill movement and colour.”

It is easy to get lost in the gallery corridors they have curated for the 2016 Festival. The three dimensional surfaces, inventive designs and layers of artwork will change the way you look at this artistic craft forever.”

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True Classic Style

Chatter over tea with my grandmother,

“It was the camel hair poncho with lynx fur trim – her favorite piece in her wardrobe. Something I have seen her wear more than a hundred times, whether it is with a cream tweed jacket or cardinal red dress.

Having worked in the fashion industry since she was 32 years old, she’s become a retail expert. Currently holding a part time position at a women’s wear boutique.

We are talking about my grandma, who turns 85 at the beginning of December. Do the math, that comes to 53 years in fashion retail, and still going. When asked “How long have you worked in retail?” she answered immediately “Oh gosh Joey, feels like 100 years.”

At 82 she was on the search for a new job, and with some help, was applying online. However worried that she would not be hired because of her age, grandma told the manager she was but a young 75, anything above 80 seemed a bit unrealistic. This year her coworkers are looking forward to celebrating her 80th birthday, which brings great laughter to our dinner table.

My entire life my grandma is always, no matter the occasion, the best dressed in the room. Growing up with a couture seamstress as a mother, it was easy for her to become obsessed with the art of fashion from a young age. Her luxurious look takes time to create, and always includes a pair of statement earrings. In our phone interview she explained that she gets her style ideas from working in the store, reading magazines and on television. We were sad to hear the news of the loss of Oscar de la Renta in 2014, as his elegant designs have always been Grandma’s favorite.

As a single mother of 3 boys, she was very happy to welcome 6 granddaughters to the family. However I ended up being the one who’s fallen into her fashion footsteps, therefore whenever we are together there is always a discussion about my current projects or latest purchases. She doesn’t seem to mind when I refer to myself as the favorite grandchild.

The beautiful world of fashion has helped us develop a special connection. When I get to 85 I just hope I can rock a cheetah print blouse as good as grandma does.”

Colour Research

What is the significance of wearing red?

“After watching the presidential debate now months ago it was hard not to take note of Hillary’s signature pantsuit, especially in bold crimson red. Significant female figures have been wearing the eye-catching colour since the day society had the realization that what you wore impacted the way you were perceived by others. Red has become a very symbolic colour over the years; especially after watching influential women like Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama rock it in the spotlight. Red can be a strategic choice in certain moments in people’s lives for many different reasons.

According to Future Forward’s “Strategy of Colour,” colour acts as a visual language to communicate certain meanings and responses. With a simple change in hue or tint, colours can resonate with people, affecting their decision-making, mood and perceptions. They play a major role in our lives, and there is no getting away from them. Just another thing to think about when buying that new dress for the talent show or that first date, colour can be what makes you remembered.

Crimson, cardinal or cherry, whatever the hue, red makes a statement. In keeping with Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik from the “Scientific American”, red is an emotionally intense colour and actually prompts a faster heartbeat. It symbolizes strength, power and passion, definitely a good reason for Hillary Clinton to be wearing it when competing with a man like Trump. This might also be why Vivian (Julia Roberts) in Pretty Woman was featured wearing that gorgeous bright red gown at the end of the film. The moment she finally felt she was an elegant, powerful woman, complete with a diamond and ruby necklace to top it off. It was a scene that definitely turned heads.

Whether you are looking to make a point like Hillary in a pantsuit, or create a memory like Michelle Obama did at her second inaugural ball, red might be the colour for you. Either way one can always depend on the great Coco Chanel’s advice, “the best color in the whole world, is the one that looks good, on you.” “

Odessa’s Psychology of Style

Review of a great article by Odessa Paloma Parker found in the Globe and Mail,

“A pair of beautiful purple velvet loafers in the window of Nordstrom catch your eye, now that is something that could really amp up your boring wardrobe. However the immediate thought is that they definitely are not for someone your age and you continue past. Another outing to the mall, on a mission to remodel your black and grey closet, ends in disappointment. In The Psychology of Style, Odessa Paloma Parker outlines the reason you refuse to try on those shoes isn’t that you don’t think you’ll look good in them. You are walking away from that store because our society has taught you to avoid items that might bring attention to you. This cultural conditioning is what puts us in the rut where we end up purchasing the same top in grey, beige and black.

As a former personal shopper Odessa understands the difficulty people have with trying on clothing that is out of what they consider to be their “comfort zone”.  Every once and a while we all want to give our style a makeover but it takes a lot longer than we think. After reading this story, it is important to note that we are not to blame for our fear of straying from the norm. It’s the external influence of cultural stereotypes and norms that have been drilled into our minds all our lives that makes us withhold our want for something new and different. The truth is that you do have the confidence and style to wear those loafers, so keep an open mind and go see if they’ve got your size.”

Life in a Different Size

The struggles of not being a Victoria Secret Model, there’s a lot of us.

“Introducing my fabulous, fearless, beautiful mother. A woman of many talents, interests and full of knowledge. Known in the community as confident and dependable, my mom is the go to person for events, activism and in general kindness. She always looks good, dressed up and professional but does not consider herself, “that stylish” (N. Robertson, personal communication, March 18, 2015). As an over 50, plus size woman my mum is definitely a part of society that is not being looked after by the fashion industry. She finds it extremely hard to find things in her size, for this reason shopping is difficult and time consuming. Which is understandable. “I don’t want to look like a fat 58 year old woman,” (N. Robertson, personal communication, March 18, 2015). Having gone on shopping trips together I can comprehend. I try my best to be supportive and encouraging but often the products are of low quality and awkward fit.

When it comes to my mums style she has a particular uniform she likes to follow: a solid colour button up shirt, dark blue jeans and a mixture of bold jewelry. Most often her outfit includes her pearls earrings and a string of pearls around her neck. A classic for any woman, particularly for a women who has difficulty keeping up with trends through clothing and instead stays stylish with jewelry.

I consider pearls a symbol of unquestionable elegance. The strand of pearls will be the accessory that I will be conducting an analysis on according to Valerie Steele’s object analysis procedure (1998). They are a versatile accessory that go with everything, doubled up with the sterling silver clasp or just on its own. It has a good weight and prominent structure therefore makes enough of a statement in a simple outfit. Personally I love pearls, modern and understated, they are a necessity in a professional woman’s wardrobe.

Pearls will always be in style. Introduced by Chanel in the early 1900s, a rope of pearls traditionally represents a strong female presence and minimalist modern style (Discoll, 2010). Chanel’s pearls were often fake, but still had the ability to change the way jewelry was viewed at the time. No longer just decorative ornamentation, thanks to Chanel jewelry became exemplary of femininity while disrupting the inequality in gender and class (Discoll, 2010). In a world where gender inequality is still prominent, this representation lives on. This accessory has the ability to embody “the conflict between the industrious homemaker and the ambitious professional,” (Harris, 1997). Obviously this string of pearls embodies the “ambitious professional,” and successful real estate agent.

As an extremely body conscious person my mum finds safety in her distinct uniform style and everyday pearls. The string of pearls, much like a purse exemplifies a faulty feeling of safety according to Harris’ The Contents of Women’s Purses: An Accessory in Crisis (1997). As it is so difficult to find proper fitting clothes, the string of pearls is one of the only pieces in her wardrobe that makes her feel beautiful without having to settle for something that does not fit properly. Plus size women’s fashion has been overcome by box cut cotton shirts and jeans, because of the belief that the plus-size women are not entitled to the same trendy styles and garments as those who wear smaller sizes (Patterson, 2005).

A pearl necklace looks just the same on a straight size women compared to my plus size mum, and demonstrates the same luxurious style. I believe an accessory like this one manifests the equal value of the plus size woman versus the slimmer counterpart of the western beauty ideal. Currently the fashion industry is defining a larger waist as an impairment and disability as a consumer (Young, 2005). “

New Years Resolution #1

“Here I sit in my first non-fashion related course, and it is interesting… My only elective of first year I chose to take ‘Globalization and World Politics.’ Let’s just say it is eye opening, and very different. Over the past 4 months I’ve gotten use to the mostly female lectures, talking mainly about the different wool blends in your T-shirt or what colour is trending this season. Even in my lab classes we paint, draw and sew, if feels almost uncomfortable to be sitting at a desk and listening to a male professor wearing simple brown jeans and a tan suede shirt. The biggest difference is that there is not one person with bright pink or green hair and I have yet to see a fur coat or vest.

I AM liking it, It may only be the first day but it’s definitely a nice change. The topics of the course include the human need for security and order and the human need to belong and feel like a community. Our first lecture was on sovereign states and failing states across the world. First of all I didn’t know what “sovereign” even meant… (I quickly googled it on my phone) and was then intrigued by the political conflicts happening across the world that I never even knew about within my little bubble.

What I am personally learning is there is more to the world than what we see, do and feel on a daily basis. I find it incredibly frustrating to know that most of my fellow students in fashion have no idea what happened in Paris at a newspaper office last week. We may of course be studying a subject that greatly interests us but the world doesn’t revolve around what Jennifer Anniston wore on the red carpet of the Golden Globes. We don’t know what the young woman at the front desk of that newspaper office was wearing, all we know is that she was scared out of her mind for her own life.

Just thought I would express my opinion about the fact that so many of us are stuck inside our own bubble. We are extremely privileged to live in such a safe country, have a home to go to at the end of the day and to be able to go to school everyday studying something you love. But we also need to be aware of what is happening across the globe. Therefore I have decided that one of my new years resolutions for 2015 is to read the Globe and Mail Newspaper at least once a week, whether it is online or the paper copy, either way I would like to use it as an opportunity to open my mind to the rest of the world economically, politically, socially and environmentally.


I love fashion and my program but you can only analyze the fibres of silk so many times. I will definitely continue to narrate my further ventures outside the sewing lab further on.”

The New Phase of Pixie

Many women are incredibly attached to their hair but definitely not this girl!


“Having dramatically changed my hair 2 times in the past 2 years I have experienced it all. From bohemian Blake Lively waves, to the bold Julianne Hough bob and now I am on to the J Law playful pixie cut. It is a nerve wracking experience getting a new haircut, it changes the way people look at you. But I have decided that my pixie cut has definitely been the most fun. Why? 1. I can wear lots of makeup and still not look too preppy 2. I can sleep in longer in the morning 3. I am saving money on shampoo and conditioner 4. It is unique, people notice, I swear, they may just be taking a second look to question your gender, no matter what, it’s a second look.

Although I will admit I am not sure that I will keep my hair this way forever. Change is fun, and hair is an easy thing to change about yourself on the outside without altering the inside. Maybe I’ll go for Britney Spears bald next time, who knows?

Pixie is definitely in and trending everywhere. So if you are feeling brave, check out this list of steps to prepare yourself for the dramatic change and the post cut dilemmas.

http://beautyhigh.com/pixie-haircut-inspiration/