project musings…

out of the nest

This wee bird, just out of the nest was right at the edge of the pond, and Greg noticed it as I was trudging along during our site visit before pulling Flag Iris. The poor little guy was not much bigger then my thumb- my dog was with us but was leashed and not a problem, two terriers however were off-lead and came running right up, we called to the owners and let them know to keep their dogs away, ( it IS an on leash area) the woman commented that “it looked the same as the one her dogs had had a go at last time…” or something like that. Greg and I were both I think a bit shocked by this and the opportunity passed to point out the advantages of the concept of dogs on-lead in the immediate area…. sigh.

photo credit: David Gowman

photo credit: David Gowman

Greg met up with  David and myself and we did a site visit and test-pull before having community come work with us on removing the Flag Iris as Greg does not pull very often from areas so submerged. It is always a great learning experience working outdoors with Greg, as his knowledge of the plants, animals and functioning of the eco-system is so beyond mine- I try and be as sponge like as possible in retaining the flow of information like plant names, what is native, what is introduced- invasive or a participator, as well as the deeper layers of what is happening in the environment that are not so visible to the naked eye. I think Greg gets a kick out of seeing what I do with the materials; how I use them to weave with etc… and somewhere in there is a great exchange of ways of knowing a specific place- both the poetry and the science of it.

Bending the dogwood before weaving. photo credit: Derek Irland

First hoop bindings for weavinmg orbs. photo credit: Derek Irland

woven forms getting dense photo credit: Derek Irland

photo credit: Derek Irland

One of the things I really like about this type of project is that many hands can be at work at the same time- people who may not know each other suddenly find themselves collaborating on a common goal- both learning it perhaps for the first time, sharing with each other, problem solving and getting to know each other just a little bit… We had about 50 people out on Earth Day to assist in making the woven forms, what a great day- the weather even cooperated!

photo credit: Gordon Brent Ingram

One of my neighbours happened by on his bike and took this very heroic pose picture of us at the days end…

June_ Installation of the Orbs at last!

June 11th was the install date for the woven orbs made on Earth day, branches were used to secure the forms in the water( bark was stripped to deter rooting), and cedar drift wood from the beach was split by David for use as well to give better height- the intention is to leave some space under the forms so birds can shelter beneath the forms.

notice all of the flag iris surrounding where I work- but not for long….

Ken who came to watch offered support from the shore. photo: David Gowman

Sunday June 13thGreg Ferguson, stewardship program coordinator with Stanley Park Ecology Society(SPES) came to give us a hand with the removal of a large section of Flag Iris, the main invasive beginning to take over the pond. Thanks to SPES for loan of tools and Greg, Vivian, Derek and David for all of their hard work

tthe flowers are just finishing, and seed heads are beginning to ripen, it was good to do an early pull before the seed heads open and disperse- flag iris spreads by both the seeds and rhizome root structure that grows underwater.

A massive amount of weight was pulled from the roots that were pulled up…

A huge bio-mass! the iris was sorted out, roots will be disposed of by the city, and the stocks were cut and prepped for weaving- a great days work.

June 14 and 15, weaving began… a simple warp-less method of weaving is used- similar to a multi-strand braid, iris was clothes-pinned in place for working.

The park is such a peaceful place to work, lovely spending a few afternoons sitting under a tree working and having people stop by and visit and weave with me.

two sisters and their dad working together on a weave.

We got ambitious and started doing larger, 16-across sections…..

I wove everyone’s lengths each day into one long work.

The tree beside the pond where we worked became the place to drape the finished lengths,I was so smitten with them here, that I decided to continue adding more and just make an installation right at the work site…Sun has not been on my side for documenting this work yet… I am hopeful I can document it in the sun before anything happens to the work. It is by far the most accessible- therefore, vulnerable piece in the park to date- so far over 5 days nothing has happened. I am not attaching to the work, as it may be very ephemeral…. it is a good opportunity to see if the work gets removed or vandalized.

learning on the fly… the morning I was going to the Womens’ Centre to teach weaving with flag iris I had the bright idea to try something new… fortunately the women who where working with me were patient and stuck with me when I got a little confused- we got there! we used a method that is used by Pima First Nations of Arizona for building coil baskets, but then joined our weaves together to create one work for the park. It was a good challenge to learn a new technique- and get comfortable with it while teaching it!

here you can see both the back and front side from the way the 8 pieces are woven together, then folded in on themselves ( like folding in the cardboard top of a box so all  tabs are tucked)- it was the folding and tucking part that was a brainteaser!Friday June 18th was the start of the four day celebration of National Aboriginal Day at Oppenheimmer Park, and I had some community members join me in weaving for the work installed in the tree. Weather was perfect and what a great day: sitting weaving in the sun under the cherry trees, listening to local musicans Hobema School of Rock and chatting with folks about the project and life in general…..
In the last few weeks I have so enjoyed being able to join in at the Downtown Eastside Womens’ Centre, Oppenheimer Park Ladies Tea Group and Enterprising Women Making Art( EWMA) I have had a chance to talk with women that I pass on the streets regularly, but have not said more then hello to before, and have met other women in the community for the first time- there is a lot of talent, wisdom, passion and experience in our neighbourhood!

pansies, tree peony, evergreen magnolia leaves

The last two orbs for the California Lilac were woven at EWMA yesterday, there are 4 now in total, on Sunday I am looking forward to moving the orbs out of my living room (!) and back to the park for installation in the tree- that excitement of seeing something in reality compared to how it is visualized as an idea… I think the birds will like it for nesting too- a bit more shade and protection in that tree for next spring.

Sunday 10 am is installation time, and Monday morning is harvest for the memorial protective border.

amazing how small the orbs are in the tree after taking up ALL of the floor space in my apartment over the last few weeks… glad to get the orbs installed and a few branches woven around tree limbs to help brace against wind storms. It is fascinating observing how much the work camouflages with the surroundings, becomes a surprise for those looking closely.

A park ranger stopped to chat- “the crazy woman in the tree” was not deemed a threat, and if anything, he was interested in the project.

I think I am becoming addicted to the colour of the red dogwood- such an amazing colour to work with! Alas, after the first frost the red will be lost to a dull brown.

One of the reasons  I love working with the red osier dogwood other then the colour is that I can weave with it when it is freshly cut year round- unlike an osier willow that needs to be harvested in winter ( when no sap is flowing) then soaked to become pliant again. I have discovered this summer that the green, new growth of red osier dogwood is not flexible, more inclined to snap like a willow branch- so colour awareness at harvest time is important.

Missing Women Memorial

Aug 3rd

after a big harvest of dogwood, cottonwood and spirea( thanks Travis and David!) around the pond and port area , I was ready for the first workshop- alas, very few folks turned out, glad for those that did stop by, and I hope to see you again on the 18th.Don Larson was a great help with the first step: making the hoops for the weaving frames.

In total we made just over 100 hoops, and on the 18th we will be weaving interiors such as the sample picture above.

Individual hoops of various sizes will be bound together to create the running border around the garden bed area. The materials used for the interior weaving are all things I have been gathering from the park area and processing such as cedar grass off drift wood wash up, flag iris stems, blackberry vine skin, assorted grasses and bind weed (morning glory) from weeding the garden beds.

sample from the material table- flag iris leaves are dried, then soaked to make pliable again, and rolled on the thigh into a twist, rolled on two fingers into little bundles ready for use.

soaked materials ready for processing:

from left: cedar “sea grass” cedar bark, blackberry skin, flag iris

After an opportunity for community consultation several on-site workshops happened to make the hoops, assemble and install.

people began interacting with the fence- mostly in a positive way.

I have found feathers, earrings, fake and real flowers tucked in to the weave.

mostly, unknown collaborators add things, occasionally things have been removed.

the first fence that was built had a split cedar top and bottom that David foraged and split  from the beach, as we left at sunset the fresh yellow cedar glowed. When we came down in the morning was cedar was gone. It had been a full moon the night before, and I am sure the colour of that glowing cedar was just too much for someone to resist. A new fence was adapted, one with less change in physical appearance. A week later it was apparently offered into a fire, as it had disappeared but within 15 ft on the beach we found remnents.

The final celebration, which happened to coincide with the memorial service for the family members of the murdered women was less then a week away, the fence needed to be finished in respect to the site. Thanks to Kati for coming out at the last minute and helping, I think we got it “right” this time, as the work has been untouched since and there was lots of positive feedback for the family members that came by for tea, or visited the memorial as we were weaving.