The 50 Mile Coat

…last weekend I attended the closing day of the EHS Inspires show at the Neilson Park Creative Centre  where the 50 mile coat had been completed and was on display

A good friend of mine is a member of the Etobicoke Handweavers and Spinners Guild. They recently undertook an enormous project that took 800 hours to complete. They designed and hand made a coat that used materials that were accessed within a 50 mile radius of the the studio where the materials where assembled and put together.

It started with the shearing of the wool from sheep in Pelham. The wool was then cleaned and carded and spun by hand into yarn. I don’t remember the numbers but there were several spinning wheels at the centre where members took turns spinning the wool into yarn. Neilson Park is in the middle of a naturalized park area and ladies of the guild collected plant materials to make natural dyes. One of the plants they used were marigolds. The yarn was dyed and then the loom was set up with the warping threads.

Once enough cloth was woven for the coat, the pattern (designed and made by one of the members) was pinned to the fabric and cut out. The entire coat was hand sewn with thread that was also handmade. The buttons were made from wood that came from another members property and carved into beautiful shapes. My friend made the felted colour for the coat.

I’m sure I haven’t done justice to the long process that was involved in making this coat and I’ve probably missed some steps. Now that the coat is done it is going on tour. I’m not sure where it will end up but it certainly should be in a museum somewhere so that many more people can enjoy it.

The show also featured many other beautiful works of art made by the members of the guild. All the felted pieces featured here were made by my friend ML and the one piece at the top of the gallery of photos she describes as ‘a memory of the colour and textures of the Aran Islands on the west coast of Ireland’.

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