MiR @ the BPL

It’s been a pretty great year work-wise, and one of the highlights was being the Maker-in-Residence at the Burlington Public Library this summer. I got to spend my summer working with amazing equipment and working on a project that I’ve been thinking about for some time. The maker space at the BPL is a unique space and it’s staffed by generous, knowledgeable makers - in fact, everyone at that library seems to be a maker. Every person I met seemed to be passionate about sewing or 3D printing or weaving or laser cutting or woodcarving, and so on. It was impressive and inspiring.

Supremely talented photographer and journalist Nikki Wesley made this wonderful video about the program and my residency.

Thanks to the CC

 Photo by David Lane. Spectacular and immensely helpful goggles courtesy of Chrystene Ells.

Photo by David Lane. Spectacular and immensely helpful goggles courtesy of Chrystene Ells.

A huge shout out of thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts. Yesterday, I got word that I was awarded a professional development grant to fund my trip to Massachusetts to study wood carving and puppet making with David Lane at MASS MoCA. What an awesome experience that workshop was. I'm so grateful for the support. 


So this summer I'm the Maker-in-Residence at the Burlington Public Library. Using new and recycled materials, I'm making a forest installation. This week, I'm working on big paper trees, laser-cut acrylic dragonflies, a neoprene and fabric fox, and an embroidered hummingbird. Here's me, awkwardly talking (because I know no other way to appear on video) about my plans for the library.

Woodcarving (and Mask Making) in New England

I just returned from a fantastic week-long woodcarving workshop with the amazing David Lane in North Adams, Massachusetts at MASS MoCA. We worked and worked and it was bliss. I left with a couple of carved puppets (I still have a bit of work to do on both). I also made a (drumroll, please) little leather mask for one of my puppets. It was great to learn the process and I'm happy with the results. 


Many Masks Were Made

 Photo by Josh Lyon, courtesy of the Calliope Collective. 2018.

Photo by Josh Lyon, courtesy of the Calliope Collective. 2018.

Many awesome masks were made at the May mask-making workshop at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning. Teaching a short but sweet workshop on mask making couldn't have come at a better time for me - it reminded me of the total joy I get from my own work and from teaching my craft and watching other people's ideas translate to actual, wearable objects. It's an incredible feeling to turn one's ideas into tangible things.

Thanks to the Calliope Collective for hosting and organizing the workshop. 

XPT 2018

 Scene from The Boat of Bones

Scene from The Boat of Bones

I recently returned from a week-long trip to Atlanta, and I'm already missing its fiery heat (late May in Ontario is sweater weather, this year). I was in Atlanta because had a stop-motion film in Xpermimental Puppetry Theater (XPT) at the Center for Puppetry Arts. I love being part of XPT for many reasons. The puppetry is innovative and interesting, the show is wonderfully put together by Tim Sweeney and Wade Tilton, the environment is supportive, and I get to hang out with puppet/mask people and talk puppets and masks for a whole week, which are two of favourite things to discuss. Also, I'm quite taken with Atlanta - it's a great city.

So for better or worse, I made a film called The Boat of Bones. It's based on a dream that I had when I was a kid.  I've never made a film before, I've never done stop motion before. It was hard. I wasn't thrilled with my puppet or puppetry, but I learned heaps and I found the whole process intensely interesting. I'm immensely grateful to XPT for giving me the opportunity and necessary deadlines to motivate me to make BoB. The week after I finished the film, I said I'll never do it again, but you know, I might.