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The Book of North Country Shifu


May 6-10, 2020

Maiwa East, 1310 Odlum Dr, Vancouver, British Columbia

Shifu is the Japanese art of spinning and weaving handmade paper into a cloth that is surprisingly lightweight, yet warm to the touch. It originally provided rural Japanese people with an inexpensive, locally-made cloth. “North Country” refers to Velma Bolyard’s textile studio, located in the North Country of New York State.

North Country Shifu is Velma’s take on traditional technique, directed toward textile, paper, and book objects that demand haptic exploration and enjoyment. The class will make, spin, weave, and write on paper with stitch and colour.

We will learn to evaluate and prepare a sheet of fine, long-fi- bered kozo or lokta paper, to spin into kami-ito. The kami-ito is the thread that we will weave into shifu. Students will work with drop spindles and then weave on ‘stump looms’ that we build ourselves.

The class will also work with raw flax pulp and ochre pigments to create a substrate paper for our bookish explorations. We will bind our papers into a commonplace book, housed in a strong stationer’s binding, the medieval version of a three ring binder. This book will provide an expandable housing for our paper ex- plorations from class and beyond.