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We had people stitching all over our interactive gallery for the sashiko workshop!

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Volunteer Irene is preparing more blocks due to the overwhelming attendance. The beautiful kimono style jacket she’s wearing featured Japanese printed cloth and sashiko embroidery.

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The Textile Museum of Canada is supported by a vibrant team of volunteers — they lead tours and school programs, welcome visitors at the front desk, and help our conservator prepare textiles for exhibition, among a myriad other tasks. Wide Open Wednesdays have provided another forum for our volunteers to share their special skills, and on February 19 a group of them facilitated a sashiko workshop.

Sashiko is a traditional Japanese embroidery technique. A running stitch is used to repair garments or add decorative elements to a piece. The challenge is to have the length of the stitches and the distance between the stitches the same length. Sashiko is often done using white thread on a blue (indigo) piece of fabric. TMC volunteers have taught sashiko embroidery to staff and other volunteers in the past, which has resulted in the creation of a beautiful quilt that is currently on display at the Museum.

Participants in the February 19 workshop had the opportunity to create their own square patch, inspired by the quilt, pieces created by the volunteers, and traditional examples featured in the sashiko books the volunteers brought with them for reference. The energy was wonderful that evening — that you to the members of the volunteer committee who hosted the workshop!

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The Textile Museum of Canada was privileged to receive funding through the first round of Collaborative Community Project grants offered through Hive Toronto.  Wide Open Wednesdays facilitated co-creative processes, inviting diverse participants to collaborate and explore a new kind of museum that embraces maker culture, integrating physical and digital worlds.

As a national arts institution that combines a dynamic contemporary program with an international historical collection, the TMC is uniquely positioned to incorporate the dual worlds of tradition and innovation, inherited practices and contemporary creativity with agility. During its fall 2013 series of workshops, Wide Open Wednesdays built on a natural compatibility of philosophies and missions, extending the Textile Museum of Canada’s commitment to social innovation and to actively engage the public as cultural participants, not passive consumers while advancing the principles of openness, innovation and participation promoted by the Mozilla Foundation for the web into the physical communities engaged within the cultural sector.

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The Wide Open Wednesdays program encompassed priorities that characterize what commentator Nina Simon has described as a participatory cultural institution:

… a place where visitors can create, share, and connect with each other around content. Create means that visitors contribute their own ideas, objects, and creative expression to the institution and each other. Share means that people discuss, take home, remix, and redistribute both what they see and what they make during their visit. Connect means that visitors socialize with other people – staff and visitors – who share their particular interests. Around content means that visitors’ conversations and creations focus on the evidence, object, and ideas most important to the institution in question.

Wide Open Wednesdays successfully cultivated this type of participatory environment by welcoming eight new partners into our space to share their own leadership through expertise, experience and expressions related to both traditional crafts and digital media in a series of twice monthly workshops. Expanding the TMC as a social space, organisations including Maker Kids, Golden Horseshoe Green Tech, the Toronto Guild of Spinners and Weavers, Collage Collective, the Origami Society of Toronto and Story Planet  led unique and dynamic activities for the public over the course of each event.

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Funding received through Hive supported the following outcomes:

— Supporting new areas of creativity and expertise by offering competitive honorarium for workshop facilitators, recognizing specialized knowledge of young, emerging artists and innovators

— Access to new creative platforms and tools, materials and expertise to explore new technologies such as 3D printing and smart textiles

— Removal of barriers to access for diverse audiences by ensuring free participation in workshops both at the Museum and in the community

— New and strengthened interdisciplinary connections as well as partnerships between maker communities in the Greater Toronto Area and within Hive Toronto

—Encouraging self-reliance and self-confidence while advancing skills required to meet 21st century challenges and recognize new competencies and learning through digital badges

— Communication of results through creation of a new blog to archive workshop proceedings and share knowledge related to the featured techniques

— Opportunities for intergenerational and multidisciplinary learning

One of the most exciting aspects of Wide Open Wednesdays were the relationships built throughout the fall – between the TMC and its partners, between various maker groups, and between individual participants. Wide Open Wednesdays will continue on a monthly basis throughout 2014 to allow these relationships to continue to grow. Join us if you’re in Toronto on the last Wednesday of the month! We’ll be announcing our upcoming workshops soon!

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Each story template was then photocopied with Callen’s illustration on the back. Each copy was cut and folded to create a mini-book; when the book is unfolded, a poster of the central character is revealed. Participants had multiple copies of their zines to trade with one another, and to give as gifts.

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Transferring the stories to the zine template provided by Story Planet

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Participants at work on the rough drafts of their stories.

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The creature revealed!

Illustration by Callen Schaub

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Our storytelling workshop began with everyone visiting Fictions and Legends. The group shared their observations of the exhibition, and talked about their favourite types of stories. They then brainstormed the physical features and personal attributes of a new character that would be featured in their stories. Artist Callen Schaub then illustrated the character.

What do you think a creature with a giant smile, a body like a minotaur, with wings and hands not connected to its body look like?