What Happened at the Willow & Dogwood Weaving Workshop?

The living arch the community wove together from Dogwood & Willow branches

Hey guys! Remember that weaving workshop we had at the end of June? Maybe you weren’t able to make it out, but here’s the down low of what happened at our super fun Willow & Dogwood Weaving Workshop!

First of all, there was an amazing turn out!! Thank you to everyone who came and joined in! The arch looks beautiful!

As eco-artist, Sharon Kallis, arrived, we introduced ourselves and began the process by stripping Willow branches of their leaves and organizing them in similar-sized piles. Excitement and anticipation built as members of the neighbourhood, Farmers on 57th, and residents and staff of the George Pearson Centre arrived and got to know each other. After everyone had arrived, Sharon provided some background on the history and art of Willow weaving and explained how we would work together to create the arch with living trees. As the tasks got allocated and explained, the teamwork and building began! Everyone was very excited to get involved and jumped right in; age, ability, and all “differences” faded away as the beauty of community shone through. 

Teamwork makes the dream work!

If you weren’t able to make it out, here is a brief explanation of how the arch was made. The arch began as Dogwood plants growing in a circle with an entrance facing the path in front of the GP Centre. The first step was to dig an even number of small holes around both of the front Dogwood “posts” of the arch, where the Willow branches will be put in. Kids, adults, and people of all ages worked together to dig the holes and place the Willow. After this, the weaving began! Two groups began weaving the Willow, as Sharon said, like “storeys of an apartment”. Tying (with string sized cuttings from reusable beeswax wraps) left branch over right branch, left over right, left over right… all the way around one storey of the apartment, then right over left, right over left for the second storey, repeat, repeat, until we got to the top! With the watchful eye of George Pearson resident, Bill, the weavers created even storeys all the way around and up to the top of the arch. The result? Two beautiful posts for the entry of the arch. At the same time, a third group wove the lower circle of Dogwood together following a similar pattern, but more free flowing, all the way around to enclose the lower circle. Then, Sharon, with the help of Bill and George Pearson staff, wove the two posts together forming the entry arch. Afterward, woven details made by Pendra Wilson were added for decoration and the arch (and ice cream!) was enjoyed and explored by the many children who participated, as well as George Pearson resident, Hansu.

George Pearson resident, Hansu, enjoying the arch
Maddy smiles proudly while Mama Karen and Big Sister Cassidy weave away!
George Pearson resident, Bill, and GP staff working together with Sharon to close the arch

As time passes and the Dogwood grows, the community will continue to weave the new growth together to eventually close the entire structure. Make sure to come by in the wintertime when the Dogwood branches turn from brown to a brilliant bright red!

Thank you again to our sponsors: Vancouver Tool Library, Canada Mats, Vancouver Neighbourhood Small Grants, and Farmers on 57th for making this event possible!

And a special thank you to artist, Sharon Kallis, for teaching us a new art form and skill, as well as bringing a fun, welcoming energy to the event!

Also, a big thank you to Pendra Wilson who dreamed up the idea of weaving together the community at the George Pearson Centre!

Artist Sharon Kallis bringing together the two entry posts
Even Bunny, Pendra’s dog, got to join in on the weaving experience!

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