Updated: Nov 5, 2021
This week’s post, in early June 2021, is a bit different. Created by me, Chris Liszak – president of felt :: feutre canada.
I am turning the tables to interview our regular contributor, Lesley Buxton. Many of you know she has been the main writer for our felting community for many years. But not all of us know Lesley.
At this juncture, when felt :: feutre canada is in the midst of restructuring at the hands of the new Board of Directors, we have asked Lesley to take a break from the weekly column to allow us to create our new website, and get our budget re-aligned.
Lesley has graciously agreed to give us time to accomplish this huge task. Once complete you will again see Lesley’s work with us in the form of special assignments and symposium reportings. This post is a tribute to her past work with felt :: feutre canada.
Tell us about your early days writing for felt :: feutre canada. Fiona Duthie approached me about writing the felt :: feutre canada blog in 2016, just before the Penticton, BC symposium. She wanted to create a special space for Canadian felt artists with a blog dedicated to their needs. She hoped it would connect the group’s members, who were spread around the country, often creating on their own without support from a community. The concept was sort of like an online Guild meeting, where members would find guidance and inspiration as well as friendship. I appreciated the importance of this.
As a writer there were been times I’d felt very alone while navigating the creative process. I recognized the need for creatives to have peer support and a vital community. The project appealed to me as I’d always enjoyed writing about creatives. Plus, I had a background in the fibre arts. I’d worked at Wabi Sabi, a wool shop in Ottawa, where I’d written the store’s blog. At the store, one of the perks was taking the workshops for free. I understood the dynamics of felting as well as the appeal of fibre. My wool addiction was legendary locally.
What is(are) you favourite memory (memories) with felt :: feutre canada? I loved being part of the symposiums in Penticton, BC and Cornwallis, NS—all the excitement of the participants was infectious. Even though I didn’t take any workshops I felt a creative burst from just being in such a charged atmosphere.
The fashion show at the Penticton symposium was amazing. It took place in the Shatford Centre gymnasium. There was a long runway with very atmospheric lighting. The show featured 53 pieces from 27 designers across Canada. The work was brilliant. I was one of the models. I wore two gorgeous dresses. I don’t remember the name of the designer of the first dress I wore, but it was wonderful. It made me feel like Titania from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was a lush forest green and incredibly feminine. The second dress I wore was Fiona’s. I remember feeling honoured that she would choose me to wear one of her creations. It was a whimsical piece with a moveable collar and skirt.
By that time, the Cornwallis symposium had taken place, I’d been writing for felt :: feutre canada for a while so I’d started to get to know our members through our correspondence so it was a wonderful opportunity to meet them face-to-face. Everyone stayed together at the conference centre and in the evening it was fun to hang out and have a glass of wine with a friend, or walk down the street to the little fish and chip place. Another aspect of that symposium I enjoyed was working with Fiona’s husband, Graeme, on a short film about the exhibition, Shrine, and interviewing the artists. I believe it was shown at the BC opening at the Craft Council of British Columbia on Granville Island.
When I began working with Fiona, she was interested in pitching articles about felt :: feutre canada to fibre magazines. She wanted to connect the organization with the international fibre community and let them know about Canadian fibre artists. Though it’s not exactly a memory, I think one of the things I’m proudest of is that we accomplished this. I wrote pieces about felt :: feutre canada for Germany’s filzfun, Australia’s Felt magazine, and the International Feltmakers Association’s journal, Felt Matters. It felt good to see Canadian artists being represented internationally.
Tell us about your other ventures (writing, books, other works) I began my writing career as a fiction writer, though for many years now, I’ve written primarily creative nonfiction. In 2018, my memoir about Motherhood and loss, One Strong Girl, won the inaugural Potterfield Prize, and an excerpt was later featured in Reader’s Digest Canada.
While I was writing my memoir, I was collaborating with Ottawa based visual artist, Patti Normand on an exhibit called “Little Voices” that debuted at The City of Ottawa’s Karsh-Masson gallery. We used Patti’s dioramas and my text to tell the story of an imaginary town called Silent Falls. It received very positive reviews in the local media. Recently Patti and I have begun chatting about a new project. We aren’t sure how this will come together yet, but I’m excited at the prospect of working with her again.
After completing my memoir and the exhibit, I felt at a loss about what I wanted to do next. Luckily my friend, Sue Harper, suggested we work together on an idea she had for a series of kid’s books about BC’s local museums called Time to Wonder. The first in the series is about the museums of BC’s Interior. This book hits stores very soon. It’s dedicated to the idea of “what is a museum.” The next book is about Vancouver Island, and its theme is “Who’s history are we learning?” This project has been fascinating. It’s taught me a lot about history, much of which I never learned in school. The last in the series is about the museums in the Vancouver area.
As a wool lover, my ambition is to write a book about fibre arts one day. I have no idea what form this would take. It’s still in the daydreaming stage, but I’d really like to examine the therapeutic qualities of working with one’s hands. Often while I was writing my memoir, when the memories were too intense, I would stop and knit for a little while.
I hope you will join me in thanking Lesley for many wonderful articles that kept us informed and entertained. See you again soon Lesley!
President, felt :: feutre canada