So the first chance I got while in Toronto last week I headed to the mecca for fibre-arts-makers: the Queen/Richmond/Spadina area. This bit of heaven boasts 100-year-old storefronts jam-packed with notions both humble and grand: a button shop — just buttons — next to one devoted to beads or ribbon or wool or shiny embellishments. Across from a luxury textiles boutique is a warehouse crammed with tables heaped with remnants. All in the space of a couple of blocks, and right in the thick of the city.
Yet even Canada's biggest textile retail district appears threatened by encroaching condo towers. (Note the billboard in this photo hawking pre-sale units in the "Fabrik" development on the site of the old King Textiles building.)
Just when you think you're the last fabric-hound standing there's the World of Threads festival to restore the soul. This multi-venue Oakville-Toronto event showcases staggeringly skillful works embedded with rich ideas and spaces to consider, and to transcend. Despite the diversity of media and methods, a thread runs though this fest: in an all-too-consumptive art world these artists are grateful for the chance to show. The value of the work is not foremost in commericial saleability but is in the maker's connection to the material itself, the often transcendent physical experience of the making, and the connectedness to the pattern of art forms that pass down through families and through every culture.