May 26, 2017

Certain Kind of Slowness

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing 
There is a field. I'll meet you there.

-- Rumi

Enjoying a fat parcel in my own time. Clearwater, MB; May 2017. Canon E0S-3 / Portra 400

Last night I cycled through the city. The air was thick with the scent of Lilacs. First I picked up some textile ink from a cute house in West Broadway. As I was rounding back toward home, I felt the pull toward Ethelbert Street. I followed the feeling and ended up at my favorite table in Wolseley, the table belonging to my Aunty Daryl. We shared a pot of tea and I wept into her dish cloth. Why so sad? I am in a period of letting go I suppose. Letting go of children I have become very close with over the last year, Theo and Henry. Letting go of ideas and ideals. Let it go, let it go! Letting go of things in order to move forward. It is good and it is hard. As usual, I was perusing her bookshelves when my eye landed on one title running down a spine: "The Art of Mending". Can I borrow this? Sure. Just like that, a new world to take up residence in.

Mending! How fitting and hilarious considering that most of my idle time at home recently has been spent on a quilt I pieced together on a whim a few months ago. Frances, this ones for you. The colours are strange but strangely good and the overall feeling of the small quilt is very warm and soft. The blocks that are hand dyed in a neutral peachy tone are also stencilled with an old rose motif I carved out in 2013. Slow train comin'. The blocks that are untampered with came from the most soft twin duvet cover thrifted a long time ago thanks to the delicate floral pattern that initially caught my eye. My hand found it before my eyes did and the softness immediately reminded of my childhood blanket.

Technically speaking I have no clue what I am doing but the process of hand stitching a quilt feels like the most natural thing in the world. Almost as if these hands of mine have been doing it for a long, long time. In another lifetime. Over the past weekend, while friends played cards, I sat in a chair beside a fire and stitched to my hearts content. They laughed at the image of this young woman performing this archaic act but then this afternoon while sitting down with my new book I read two excerpts and all of the work I have been doing lately suddenly made perfect sense to me:

"My relatives still make fun of me for my love of things domestic, especially my Aunt Fran, who, whenever we visit, always tells me she's saved her ironing and mending for me. Actually, I wouldn't mind doing it. I like ironing. It's the physical equivalent of staring into middle space. I think it waters the mind, if you know what I mean. As for mending, I think it's good to take the time to fix something rather than throw it away. It's an antidote to wastefulness and to the need for immediate gratification. You get to see a whole process through, beginning to end, nothing abstract about it. You'll always notice the fabric scar, of course, but there's an art to mending; if you're careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is testimony to its worth. 

I make my living as a quilt artist, and for the most part the work I do is commissioned. I charge a hundred and fifty dollars a square foot, not without guilt. But I have whole days when I stand at my design board moving pieces of fabric around, and I don't sew a stitch. Then something clicks, and I hit the machine. The money I charge pays for the thinking time too; I explain this to my clients. And people pay it, willingly--I have more clients than I can handle. The wait for a finished quilt is four to six months, but people don't seem to mind that, either. I think there is a longing for things that reflect a certain kind of slowness; perhaps the pendulum is beginning its inevitable swing back".

- From Elizabeth Berg's 'The Art of Mending'.


Perhaps my pendulum is swinging back, yes. Maybe my natural inclination to blast full steam into the next quick project is ought for naught. Nothing quick about quilting. No Siree. With each pull of thread, I am reminded that Slow Art is Subversive. It is all about tension. Even a quilt can be subversive if you want it to be.

Tomorrow I take up yet another new path with a new boy called Bernie. We will find our way in the coming summer months, I have no doubt. The first visit is always a little raw and frightening. Time will tell.

Happy Lilac Week to all my steppers out there looking sharp!

April 18, 2017

Spring Chickens in the sun

Freda by the feet.
Freda by the ears.
Freda by the neck. This one-armed hold was hard for Gus at first but then he figured it out!
Gus and an armful of Longbody Rabbits: Freda, Babs & Sunny.
Canvas drawstring Bucket Bag in a nice Witchy Purple hue.
Lula reaching for the moon on a Margot Pollo Picnic Blanket for two.
She got it! This kid. No words. This purble fibre took a dip in the same spooky dye bath as the canvas drawstring Bucket Bag pictured on Gus above.
Portrait of a young lady at dinner. A smaller Picnic Blanket with horses draped over the highchair for fun.

Thanks to my sweet young friends Gus and Lula for putting up with my camera all for the sake of photographing a few new items plucked from the Margot Pollo spring lineup.

Dye, print, sew. Repeat.

Kiev 60 / Ektar 100

April 12, 2017



Just swinging by to announce that Margot Pollo will be selling a new collection of textile goods at the Luckygirl Pop Up on Sunday, April 23rd! It has been good for the soul to make new things. I have been having a ball dyeing and printing to my hearts content, cutting and sewing my ideas into new shapes and forms. Keep sewing I tell myself as I spin toward the freezer for another of Grandma's oatmeal raisin cookies. One week and a half until you can come peep some of my handiwork for yourselves.

Here are some items I will be selling:
- Picnic Blankets
- Lady Longbody Rabbits (soft, stuffed rabbits in nice outfits)
- Baby playmats
- Hand-stamped Throws (to chuck over your stroller, couch or knees if you're chilly)
- Table runners & cloth napkins
- Neckerchiefs & handkerchiefs
- Hand dyed canvas backpacks

For the other funny last-minute bits that will surely make their way into the heap, you must join in the fun at Hut K's Gallery space at 300 Ross Avenue (at Princess Street) and see / feel for yourselves. My favorite part of this collection is the wonderful range of colour.  I have discovered what combination of pigments make a good Witchy Purple and Moon Blue hue. Whatever is going on here, the process feels like a refreshing departure from what I know! We now have a nice industrial Brother machine from the 70's sitting in our back room. It was very frightening to explore the powerband of that machine when we first got it. To think! That machine used to churn out fire retardant work wear and now I am zipping through layers and layers of fabric than I ever thought possible.

Power to the maker! Power to learn and harness and ride! Thanks to this machine, the process of sewing is much more efficient and enjoyable than before. Back to it...


April 8, 2017

Clown's Breakfast

Observing the action at the daytime market in Chiang Mai.
Astounded by the sight of fresh cut flowers in December.
A serious butcher at work at the daytime market.
Iain shot this of Milky and I (wheeling and dealing for antique enamel dishes).
I asked this taxi driver for his portrait and this is what he gave.
Tall man's day out.
Fresh berries and cold beer courtesy of Milky for our riverside picnic.
Hot and hazy at 11 am on a Wednesday in late December. 
Assiniboine River? Could be, but not. Captured this from the banks of the Mae Ping river running through Chiangmai.
Tuktuk self-portrait of Milky and I cruising through the streets to cool off.
Tour guide extraordinaire leading us on a shopping tour of the market before heading out of the city to our cooking class. Here she offers a lesson in rice noodles.
A lesson in coconuts.
Coconut cream!

All photos shot on my Kiev 60 TTL in thirty-five degree heat while wandering the city of Chiang Mai alongside two clowns; one who insisted upon walking as much as possible, the other who insisted upon walking as little as possible, but both agreeing that cold beer and strawberries make a fine breakfast alongside a river. I couldn't agree more.

Kiev 60 / Portra 400
Chiang Mai, Thailand; December 2016.

March 4, 2017

Through the eyes of the Lion

Leo was here.
Low eastern perspective of Wolseley near Ruby.
Bones for teeth by Coco's Frosting Shack.
Testing crab apples in autumn on Gus' back stoop.
Daddy Matt.
Walk Like an Egyptian lesson.
Yard works.
The Artist himself, formally known as Leo The Lion.
For his fourth birthday, I gifted my friend Leo a Pentax K1000 and a purple magic wand. I am happy to report that the camera has survived and the lens cap is still present well into his fifth year. Those Pentax K1000s, good cameras for good souls. As for that sparkly purple wand, who knows.

Leo shot this display of photographs at the tail end of his fourth spin around the sun. Neighborhood looks. I was so surprised to recognize my own face in so many of the frames on the roll of 28. It is a good thing. I like what he sees in me. I especially love observing Leo take in the world around him. As long as I have known him, he has been watching. Alert, in tune and clever. Ready. This practice is one of his best traits. I hope to continue teaching him the art of analogue photography as long as he will grant me the company.

A camera is a tool, not a toy. Understood?
Got it. 
Happy Birthday.

We had this conversation over chocolate milkshakes at The Nook.

Love you my dear Leopard.

March 3, 2017

Chicklets and Doves

Rebecca and her sweet young Lula.
The littlest meatball in my arms, sweet young Vaughn. Photo thanks to IDP.
Aunty Kitty and Vaughn party at the Carman Legion.
Players play an ode to Carm and Vera at the Carman Legion.
Ode to Carm and Vera.
Uncle and young Atlas reading at the kitchen table.
My Valentine, Ronny Rouge.
A rare portrait of my chicklets captured on Valentines Day by Rouge.
My Guy Valentine, practicing on a mild day in February.
Breathing in some fresh air after spray painting my brains out. Photo thanks to IDP.

Those flippen' doves are back. Constant cooing coming from the south peak. Time to bust out the Super Soaker loaded with boiling water and cayenne methinks. Their enthusiasm paired with the lingering light of day have me feeling hopeful. March is in! It was a goddamn doozy of a week. I rode home from the East Exchange fast and furiously and rolled into the camera store with a slight huff on. These photos that I picked up, placed here in consecutive order in which they were shot cheered me right up. When I look at that image of Iain and his mandolin I get all starry eyed. Mine all mine!

Kiev 60 / FP4 400

February 25, 2017

Hat Trick

IDP captured this of me while dining at A & K Lick-A-Chick in Little Bras D'or, Nova Scotia; July 2015. Pentax 67
Howdy partna',

I have entered the high season of inspiration. It builds under my top hat like a magical rabbit; out of sight though popping out at the most appealing of times. Spring is near, I can feel it brewing under the ice which I slip upon. Print production tells me so. I have been carving lino into many stamps. Margot Pollo's hand stamped bean bags, bandanas, napkins, backpacks and Longbods coming to a shop near you. It is very satisfying to follow the steps to creating a healthy inventory. So many steps! Printing is ridiculous and ridiculously rewarding at the same damn time. Same goes for dyeing fabric.

The urge to print overtakes me at odd hours. If you need me you can find me in my workroom. This room has come a long way. There are various stations in working order: Ironing station, Listening station, large worktable, small writing desk, open cutting floor, light table, sewing station. It is clean, organized and either in use, or ready to be. Good sign to keep going methinks.

Exciting collaborations for Spring are in the horizon.

My goal at the moment is to make enough bits 'n bobs to open Margot Pollo's Shop of Curiosities over at margotpollo dot com at long last. The future is now.


Love Madge

Sara & Rich wed: September 2016


Capturing the wedding of Sara & Rich was a gift! Their wedding was held on the farm belonging to the bride's brother. It was a warm and grey afternoon at the end of September. The light was right and the happy, inclusive atmosphere pulsed with celebration of good pure love between two good people. I took delight in framing up the magic in my own way and time. I ran straight out of film.

Here lies a photo essay of photographs I felt compelled to print that tell the tale of Sara and Rich's wedding celebration.

Printed at home on 8x8" Ilford Pearl paper.

Kiev 60 / Delta 400
Nikon F2 / Delta 400