What is a plant? A plant is a relationship between the earth and the sky.
– Margaret Calquhoun, evolutionary biologist
When I shifted my weaving practice to focus more on local plant fibres and dyes, a world of beautiful possibilities opened up. The qualities and characteristics of plants are so diverse, and continually shift in relation to weather systems, microclimates, the progression of seasons and the passage of years. Understanding how to grow, gather and create with them requires time and dedication.
I'm currently cultivating and wild-harvesting several varieties of willow (Salix spp.) for basketweaving, and experimenting with the integration of abundant native plants such as red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), cattail (Typha latifolia) and wild grape (Vitis riperia), as well as prolific newcomer plants such as common reed (Phragmites australis) and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica).
After weaving with beautiful animal fibres from around the world for many years – Japanese silk, South American alpaca, Mongolian yak, New Zealand merino – I'm transitioning to fibres from locally raised animals, primarily East Friesian sheep and alpacas. I no longer purchase pre-dyed fibre, opting instead to work with the gentle variations of natural hues or layer on a semi-transparent wash of natural dye brewed from plants.
My stock of materials still includes some gorgeous fibres from Japan, Wales and other provinces in Canada, so these will be threaded through my work until they're gone, but over time my creations will be increasingly bioregional. My intention is to allow them to embody the colours, textures and characters of this particular place – to celebrate its inherent beauty and to become part of its story.