Artist Kathryn Belzer A Work in Progress Mon, 11 Oct 2010 11:20:28 +0000 en hourly 1 Fibre Fair in Amherst Mon, 11 Oct 2010 11:19:26 +0000 admin 15 October 2010 – 11:00am-5:00pm
Tantramar Theatre, 98 Victoria Street, Amherst

Margi and Leslie Hennen plan to share a booth with me at the Zonta Bazaar event as part of the Fibre Fest in Amherst. Penny Berens has indicated she will drop by, so how can this be anything but fun? Trying to focus on work for the sale with this glorious sunshine and the garden whistling to me of the long winter ahead, is a challenge. Margi has made some felted sweater birdies to put a smile on even a Grinch. I have a few basic Sardine flap angels to share. Leslie is going to be beautiful and also allow us to go for tea and other necessities of elderlife.

Here’s a sample of what else will grace the booth:

Sweater pillow 18″ X18″

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Spinach Diva Tue, 10 Nov 2009 17:53:08 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: Approx. 20 cm X 20 cm
Medium: Spinach tin, hand smocked, ink jet-printed cloth, sawdust composition head.
Photo: Dan Abriel

“Spinach is susceptible of receiving all imprints: It is the virgin wax of the kitchen.”Grimod de la Reyniere (1758-1838)

The Craig Gallery is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. As part of the celebration, this piece will be displayed as part of the “Small Works” exhibit, December, 2009. Sales from this show will support the operation and maintenance of the Craig Gallery. The Craig may be the only public Gallery in Dartmouth; it is certainly the only one with a spinach tin on display.

Spinach DivaSpinach Diva Detail

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Sardine Angels Tue, 10 Nov 2009 13:50:14 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 12 cm X 12 cm
Medium: Sardine can flap, bottle cap, paper.
Photo: Dan Abriel

What’s a day without a sardine? These angels represent a great hygienic blessing from the sea.

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Elsipogtog Adventure Tue, 18 Aug 2009 13:32:22 +0000 admin On the 22nd of July, puppeteer and theatre arts educator, Brenna Meagher, joined me on a New Brunswick adventure. We drove through a downpour that left us helpless to do anything but follow the taillights ahead. Unfortunately we had not compared itineraries with the guiding vehicle and drove far into unknown and unintended territory. When the rain stopped, so did we. Eventually we corrected our course and arrived to a warm welcome at Rexton, 9KM from the Elsipogtog First Nation (or L’sipuktuk) formerly called the Big Cove Band.

The next day our hostess, Bev Smith, led us to the Health Centre where we met with a great group of kids and remarkable staff. The children had been carefully chosen for this experience. Each has a personal health and/or developmental challenge and I can speak for both Brenna and myself when I say that we were humbled and moved to watch them persevere through the unfamiliar processes as they constructed and gave personalities to their foam puppets through the two days of work. We hoped never to forget the feeling in that last circle when the group reflected on the process and held their puppets. We shared relief, love, self-expression, and satisfaction with these 9 to 12 year old participants.

One moment near the end of our time in Elsipogtog stands out. It was in our last circle, within the beautiful circle marked on the floor, when the participants were taking turns telling what they liked about the workshop. One lad followed the example of the others who had said that they liked the puppet he or she had made. Then he turned and looked his fish puppet in the face, and said, “And Mr. Fish likes me!” We nearly wept to see the source of pleasure and affection this youngster had created for himself. That moment was worth every effort we put into the workshop. What an experience!

Elsipogtog Adventure

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Working With Sets and Series Wed, 26 Nov 2008 11:50:16 +0000 admin Passion, Patience and Persistance in the evolution of the artist self
JULY 20 – 25, 2008 in Moravia, New York

^ Above Dolls by the Oiseaux Sisters ^

Four of us fibre artists, Margi Hennen (website available Jan. 1/09), Sondra McLeod, Jamie Pratt, and I went to Moravia, New York, to explore sets and series in the Oiseaux Studios North.

We selected subject matter, chose formats and sampled techniques in the many and well-stocked studios set up for working with wood, paint, metal and papier maché. Painting, drawing, surface design, altered books, boxes, cards, and flags were all possibilities. In each studio, we had presentations by one or both of The Oiseaux Sisters. We were offered technique demos and individual problem solving. They emphasized thrifty and ecologically thoughtful use of materials and respect for our own and each other’s work. I felt so happy to be there with the values they imposed and shared.

We were welcome to focus intently or browse. I found myself taking quite an unexpected fancy to the metal shop where noisy and messy things can happen to a person. Margi could be found at the band saw cutting old books into wonderful shapes. Jamie and Sondra were already adept at handling paper and paint, but found themselves doing new things in new ways, too.

At the circles in Carolyn and Susan’s living room we discussed strategies for continuity, mechanisms for change, and the contribution of observation, appropriation and invention in the evolution of a body of work. Another time we explored issues of scale, installation and presentation. Together we explored where ideas come from, and how artists’ personal visual vocabulary evolves into a body of work across time and space.

We all stayed in a delightful farmhouse with generous hosts. And our experience included shopping for new used clothing at the Dinosaur Drygoods.

This was such a delight and inspiring week and the trip with the other three put the experience among the best ever. Have a peek at the site and delight yourself while at home, then you might start thinking about making the trip; I did!

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Flipping King Sun, 23 Nov 2008 17:49:31 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Photo: Dan Abriel

Flipping King is an artist trading/card paper doll with a choice of trousers and footwear. He is made from an altered playing card and magazine clippings. Flipping King has been included in a new book by Lark Books – Artful Paper Dolls – an energetic hardcover with a brief history of Paper Dolls, featured artists and a gallery. I am so pleased to have work on the same pages as artists Margi Hennen and Kathlyn Moss.

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Trojan Sunfish Sun, 23 Nov 2008 17:03:21 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Photo: Dan Abriel

Trojan Sunfish wears Brad Pitt’s helmet over a sun face from exotic wrapping paper. His body is wonderful Japanese paper. He is about 38 cm tall (more or less, depending on the way he swishes his tail).

Trojan Sunfish has been included in a new book by Lark Books – Artful Paper Dolls – an energetic hardcover with a brief history of Paper Dolls, featured artists and a gallery. I am so pleased to have work on the same pages as artists Margi Hennen and Kathlyn Moss.

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Ralph the Cross-Dressing Frog Sun, 23 Nov 2008 16:47:53 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 75 CM tall
Medium: Needlesculpted cloth with papier mâché and wire armature.
Photo: Dan Abriel

Ralph is a cross-dressing leopard frog who is positioned atop his stump. I am indebted to Julie MacCullough’s Gnome Crone for the legs and cut-in-one shoes. The stump has a niche for hanging earrings and two practical drawers. One drawer contains a quote from Jeanette Winterson’s, Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery, concerning the importance of cross-dressed performers to Shakespere’s plays and to early opera. The content of the other drawer is known to very few.

Ralph is about 75 CM tall including his stump, he’s made in needlesculpted cloth with papier mache’ and wire armature. As my contribution to the frog swap sponsored by the online discussion group,, he hopped West and is now part of the collection of Donna Walker, Calgary.

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When Leila Heard That Bernie Would Be There, She Was Drawn As a Moth to the Class Reunion Sun, 23 Nov 2008 16:39:30 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 18″
Medium: Cloth over foam
Photo: Dan Abriel

Leila was shown in Ontario through the spring of 2000; February 4 – 28, 2000, in Fire!, sponsored by the Connections fibrearts group, Dundas, Ontario; March 4-April 28, 2000, in Framed, Arkell Schoolhouse Gallery, Guelph, Ontario; April-May, 2000; and at the Textile Festival, August, 2004, Inverness County Centre for the Arts, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

The Grand National Invitational Quilt Exhibition has requested permission to display,”When Leila Heard that Bernie Would…” at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery in the Airborne show, from May 8 to June 26th, 2005. She has agreed to attend and is there already.

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Caregiver Sun, 23 Nov 2008 16:30:42 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 5′5″
Medium: Cloth, foam, public washroom towel dispenser and waste basket.
Photo: Dan Abriel

I built Caregiver in 1989 for a joint show with Margi Hennen, entitled Use Container Provided. With her towel dispenser, she carried out the “container” theme. I replaced the paper towels with cloth towels emboidered and painted to depict acts of kindness and care. Clearly, she has a limited capacity.

Unless others care for her by folding and replacing the cloth towels, she will be exhausted, no longer able to dispense those good acts. Ten years later, Brigette Neumann, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women saw Caregiver in my studio.

“Tell me about that,” said Brigette.

In a trice she envisioned how Caregiver could promote and participate in the Council’s series of events celebrating International Women’s Week 2000, and that’s just what Caregiver did.

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Twin Sisters Alice and Helen Relish Their Retirement from Teaching as They Set Out for Another Meeting of the Oriental Craft Society Sun, 23 Nov 2008 14:21:41 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Height: 15″
Medium: Silk and cotton cloth over wire and pool noodle
Photo: Dan Abriel

The sisters carry their haiku books and flowers for Japanese flower arranging. They also have a sashiko bag with Japanese paper for their lessons in Japanese brushwork. They wear raku pendants and indigo-dyed accessories. Kathryn and embroiderer, Elizabeth Litch created them in a log cabin on Georgian Bay, Ontario.

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Louise, Goaltender for the Fleurs de Lis Sun, 23 Nov 2008 14:11:11 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 12″ high
Medium: Cloth over wire armature, plexiglass base
Photo: Dan Abriel

When she joined the senior women’s hockey team, the Fleurs de Lis, Madame Louise found a perfect outlet for her post-menopausal zest and an ideal use for her obsolete inventory of serviettes hygiéniques. Louise is on display from February 2000 – March 2003 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. The show is called Timeless Treasures: The History of the Doll in Canada. Louise appears on loan from the collection of, Wisconsin’s Mary Rogers Gillespie. Thanks, Mary!

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Tooodleeedooo’s Queen Mum Sun, 23 Nov 2008 14:07:01 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 5′ 3″ tall, (5′ in stocking feet)
Medium: Cloth over wire & papier mâché
Photo: Dan Abriel

When Pete Lucket requested a Royal presence for his new British import store, there was but one candidate in my imagination. Thanks to a great research librarian at the Halifax Regional Library, we have an anatomically correct (well, the height and shoe size) Royal to greet us in the Bedford Mall.

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Scraps, The Patchwork Girl of Oz Sun, 23 Nov 2008 13:57:20 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 30cm X 60cm X 22.5cm
Medium: Cloth over Wire Armature
Photo: Dan Abriel

The main character in L. Frank Baum’s little-known book, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, inspired my creation of Scraps. In that book, Margolotte, the wizard’s wife, wanted a serving girl and made one of an old crazy quilt. Before the busy wizard brought her to life, a well-meaning guest shook extra wits-powder into her head. When she came to life, she had no intention to lead the dull life of a domestic servant. Her curiosity and cleverness took her down The Yellow Brick Road. The remainder of the book tells the story of Scraps’ adventures in Oz. Her romance with the Scarecrow is not to be missed.

“It seems to me that nothing could be more gorgeous,” declared Ozma. “Whoever made that patchwork quilt from which Scraps was formed, must have selected the gayest and brightest bits of cloth that ever were woven.” - L. Frank Baum, The Patchwork Girl of Oz

Baum’s detailed description of her plump, stuffed body and multicoloured face were perfect guides for collecting silk bits and for my subsequent needlework. He reported, “There were almost too many patches on the face of the girl for her to be considered strictly beautiful, for one cheek was yellow, and the other red, her chin blue, her forehead purple, and the center, where her nose had been formed and padded, a bright yellow.”

For her eyes, Baum gave his patchwork girl silver buttons from the wizard’s suspenders. So I had to find suitable buttons for my Scraps. Her gold-plate ears and fingernails and pearl teeth are as the text led me to imagine. Unless Baum’s spirit can see it, I’m the only one who ever saw the tiny plush tongue that I sewed into Scrap’s mouth to remain faithful to his description. Baum clearly prescribed her red leather shoes and apron. Fortunately, I found a source of Nova Scotian grown, spun, and dyed mohair that allowed Scraps to be adorned with brown yarn hair that the text required. Her gesture expresses the thoughtful, self-assured creature one might expect from such bold material.

In the spring of 1995, Scraps was shown in Kansas City, Missouri, as part of the Great Oz Challenge at the Quilters’ Unlimited Showcase.

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In-Line Mid-Life Doris Sun, 23 Nov 2008 12:28:27 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 12″
Medium: Cloth over Wire Armature
Photo: Dan Abriel

Plato taught that serious things cannot be understood without laughable things.

This helps me understand why even solemn thoughts and feelings, such as those I sometimes have about aging, manifest themselves in a piece like “In-line, Mid-life Doris.”

In the spring of 1994 I was touched by a delightful scene among the in-line skaters outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There was a young man teaching his mom. She was tickled with her new skill, and he was proud of her courage. Clearly, they were having fun! In my imagination, this roller-blader’s biography began to develop. On one side of her locket is a photo of her late husband; on the other side is one of her granddaughter.

She’s a woman who is growing older, wiser, and satisfied. I call her, “In-line Mid-life Doris.”

Doris was chosen to represent Midlife Health by the Maritime Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (see in the ‘Millennium Women’s Health Calendar PartnerShip Project’.

Now I like to think of her as ‘Ms. April of the Year 2000′.

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Taos Deva Sun, 23 Nov 2008 12:09:51 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 18″
Medium: Cloth over Foam
Photo: Dan Abriel

During a course I took with her at the Tatamagouche Centre, Findhorn founder Dorothy MacLean told of her conversations with angels and devas of specific geographic areas. Listening to her and remembering the spirit of the area around Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico, one of my favourite places, inspired Taos Deva. The main body of this piece is a miniature, embroidered landscape.

The Taos Deva has been included in the Weaving New Rhythms Diary 2002 as the visual image for April. She is paired with a poem by Maya Angelou. This piece is now in the collection of Pete Sarsfield.

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Laura Secord Waits to Share Confections and Discuss Activism with Lady Godiva Sun, 23 Nov 2008 12:03:55 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 13 X 16 X 15″
Medium: Needle modeled cotton sock body with silk clothing and wings on a papier mâché cloud with Fimo candies
Photo: Dan Abriel

Laura Secord was a Canadian hero of the War of 1812. She ran through miles of difficult swampland to warn the British of a planned attack from the south. Today, Laura Secord chocolate shops are very popular in Canada.

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Lady Godiva on Her Way to a Tête-a-Tête with Laura Secord Sat, 22 Nov 2008 14:14:36 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 14 X 16 X 14″
Medium: Needlemodeled cotton sock on papier mâché cloud.
Photo: Dan Abriel

Lady Godiva was a courageous activist whose name is now associated with chocolates.

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Let Heaven and Nature Howl Fri, 21 Nov 2008 17:13:03 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 16″ tall
Medium: unbleached cotton, no armature
Photo: Dan Abriel

In 1993, a Denver policeman and the SPCA rescued 31 malnourished dachshunds from a van that was apparently being used as a mobile kennel. I understand that the owner used to have a trained dog act in Las Vegas. One of those weenies became my beloved pal Ludwig. After even a brief separation, we always cuddle and howl.

In the 1995 Winter Issue of Nova Scotia Craft News, Elizabeth Galbraith explained:

“Let Heaven and Nature Howl” was created by invitation for the January [1995] IDEX (International Doll Exhibition) in Texas. (Kate is sure Ludwig was a vocalist in his previous career). Should death ever separate them, Kate says they’ll reunite at heaven’s pearly gates and then look out angels, because things are gonna howl! (p. 24)

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McJustice Fri, 21 Nov 2008 17:02:18 +0000 admin Artist: Kathryn Belzer
Size: 10′-12′ tall
Photo: Kathryn Belzer

10′-12′ tall depending on the height of the person inside upholstry foam and cloth on an aluminium frame

In 1996, the fishing communities in Nova Scotia were suffering from the drop in cod stock and low quotas, fish plants closed, and coastal villages were depressed. A group of resourceful fishers wrote, produced, and toured a play to tell the story, lift the spirits, and bring focus to the future. McJustice was one of the huge puppets I made for this production. He was constructed with more compassion than time or materials.

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