Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Beginning: The Piece Before The Thesis

I created a small handbag to illustrate the time before the handbag was seen as a functional object. Before the early 1900s, the handbag was merely an accessory. Women only needed to carry limited objects, such as lipstick or a compact mirror. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the handbag was seen as more than just an accessory to an outfit. When women became vital to the workforce, the handbag transformed into a functional object that was much larger than the accessory-type handbags of previous years. I have illustrated this with a very small handbag that is quite difficult to fit anything into.

The outside of this small handbag is a lacy fabric created by machine embroidery. It is delicate and fragile, which is how women were viewed for most of history. The inside of the bag has images of some very important Canadian female figures that broke through this stereotype.

I found images online of these women and altered it slightly in Photoshop to give them a vintage feeling.

Nellie McClung was crucial to the women’s suffrage campaign in Western Canada. She helped women in Manitoba win the provincial vote in 1916, which was the first province to achieve it.

Thérèse Casgrain was the first female leader of a political party in Quebec. She lead the twelve-year fight for women to gain the provincial vote, which was finally granted in 1940.

Agnes MacPhail was the first woman to enter the Canadian Parliament in 1921. She remained its only female member for seventeen years.

Emily Murphy successfully lobbied the attorney general of Alberta in 1916 for a women’s court to be established and she was appointed as police magistrate, the first woman to be given the honour.

Emily Stowe is the pioneer of women’s rights and suffrage in Canada. She founded the Toronto Women’s Literary Club in 1876, which was the birth of the women’s movement in Canada.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

White Roses

I have created a ceiling/wall piece of white fabric roses to hang in the cloister at Knox College. Knox College is part of the University of Toronto but is also affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Because it is part of the church, many weddings are performed in the chapel. There is a lot of traffic in the cloister: students, faculty and churchgoers. I hope this piece will have an impact on these passers-by but also those attending weddings.

In a typical North American wedding, a large amount of money is spent on flowers. They are a major motif in weddings, but they only last for that one day. They wilt and die and lose their beauty, becoming another disposable object. Fake flowers tend to be very tacky and therefore not used even though they are more practical because they don’t die. With my piece I hope to remind people of the disposability and waste of real flowers and prove that fake flowers can be beautiful.

I created the flowers with a fold of white cotton broadcloth that I twisted and sewed together to create the rose shape. I went through a few different methods and this was the most efficient and cost effective method of creation. I also tested a few different sizes of roses to see which would have the most impact in the space. Once I had created a large amount of flowers, I began to sew them onto a piece of netting. This was for stability and for hanging purposes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I'm busy busy busy with school, but I thought I'd post and let you all know what I'm so busy with.
On Tuesday I have my Statement of Intent due for my Thesis, which takes place all of nest year. I'm busy working on that and the visual response that goes with it. I will have a full post on that when I'm done and have photos and a finished statement. But here's the gist of it: I'm going to be talking about the Canadian Women's Suffrage Movement and how it influenced the handbag and how the handbag influenced the movement. For my visual response I am creating a handbag that, on the outside talks about the stereotypes that men believed of women in the time before the movement (eg. weak, over-emotional, not worthy of the vote or of education) and on the inside of the handbag I will talk about what women really are (eg. smart, strong, caring, deserving of education and the right to vote and make decisions, etc.).

For my Advanced Fibre Studies class I am creating a huge wall installation that will hypothetically be installed at Knox College at U of T. I am creating hundreds of white fabric flowers to talk about weddings and how flowers typically used at weddings become disposable objects.

Lastly, I am working on a project for my business class. We have to create a business plan and a prototype. I am working on a business plan for a company that makes handbags out of pre-loved clothing and fabrics. For the prototype I am making an envelope-style clutch out of pre-loved handbag and men's dress shirt.

As you can see I am extremely busy for the next few weeks. I will try and post when I have new photos to show.