That was fun. A 25-foot whale and other delights.

Port Hope is a lovely little town and home to one of the most industrious arts collectives I’ve ever met. Critical Art Mass has many innovative and interesting projects on the go. One of them was to update the town’s lantern walk and animate it with puppets and masks and glowing lanterns. They commissioned me to design parade pieces and head to Port Hope for six days of workshops to teach participants how to make the pieces. It was a really fun time - I met fantastic and creative people. Thank you Debbie Beattie for bringing me onto this project!

One of the people I met is the remarkable artist Dian Carlo. For my initial presentation I told the team we’d be making an 8-foot whale puppet. Later Dian approached me, telling me he’d like to work on that puppet, but he thought it would be great if it was bigger. The whale ended up 25-feet long. It was spectacular.

Aristophanes' Birds

This fall, I taught a mask design and mask making course at Queen’s University for the Dan School of Drama & Music. It was great. The students made the masks for the department’s production of Aristophanes’ Birds. The new version was written by Jennifer Wise and directed by Craig Walker. The students were enthusiastic and hard working and willing to put in the time it takes to make great, comfortable masks. In total, the students made 16 masks, and I made 2 masks, 2 headdresses, and 2 puppets. Here are few photos of the process and of some of the final masks (I should have taken more photos!).

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 a lovely video about the project, which you can watch here.

Maker Clel

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.