Jul 5, 2013

Vanessa T. Cunningham’s creative garb is traditional weaving gone awry! Her wearable art wraps are individual explorations of nature and technology through colour and texture in a weaving format. 
For each distinctive project, Cunningham gathers feltable and un-feltable yarns in the specific colour palette she is working on to create a wrap. This 65-inch wrap is strung to tension on her wide Glmakra loom. The wrap is then hand-woven and felted.
Finally, Cunningham sews each title onto the edge of the wrap using Scrabble letters rescued from thrift stores. Recycling is key, says Cunningham.
“All of my thrums or scraps are saved for sewing into scarves and wraps using a free-motion machine embroidery technique,” she says. “The woolen thrums are spun into yarn for future weaving projects and all of the fluff that washes out of the wraps in the felting process is felted into pearls to become part of my new line of Felted Pearl Accessories.”
A third-generation textile artist, Cunningham has been entwined by a vast lineal knowledge of colour, texture, weaving, sewing and design passed down to her starting at a very young age.
Weaving became a major influence in her life after she inherited a cherished loom and spinning wheel and a huge collection of vintage yarns. Then, under an inspiring faculty, Cunningham studied textile art at Capilano University in North Vancouver, where she focused on weaving while learning various dye and surface design techniques. That initiated her award-winning line of Serendipity Wraps. 
Cunningham sells her pieces in Vancouver boutiques and locally through Stock Home Design. She performs demonstrations at Granville Island and also has an online Etsy shop, where she has sold internationally.
To contact Cunningham, visit Tradition with a Twist at 
The gallery display cases feature the unique jewelry of Jody Sparkes, created with semi-precious stones surrounded in an organic labyrinth of looped seed beads. Her distinctive works are inspired by line qualities and colour combinations in nature and photography, along with elements of music, travel and Art Nouveau style.
Her passion for spiritual discipline is reinforced in her designs. She says, “I bring the qualities and characteristics of yoga to my work: balance, symmetry, quiet beauty and delicate simplicity.” Sparkes thrives on the evolutionary challenges to create more difficult and complex patterns.  
Sparkes describes her constant state of discovery and openness on her creative process: “Each piece begins differently, sometimes from an image in my mind or from line qualities in a photograph or nature. There are times that I just go for it and discover a new pattern along the way… or I carefully sketch out a pattern before I begin stringing beads and semi-precious stones along the wire.”
Innate artist Sparkes has vivid childhood memories of figuring out how to transport her art supplies up the climbing tree in her yard, which gave her the elevated vantage point to draw people passing by, the tree tops, streets and houses — all from above.
After taking a break from making jewelry, Sparkes’s artistic progression has been augmented by both digital graphic design and metal work classes, working toward combining her current process, style and materials with a variety of metal techniques, allowing Sparkes to examine her existing methods in a whole new light.
To view more of her works, visit
Vanessa Cunningham’s “Birds of a Feather” display of weaving and Jody Sparkes’ “Say Hi to Daffodil” beaded jewelry are on display through Aug. 5 at the Library Foyer Gallery. Take a break from the glorious summer sun to visit the gallery!
Toby Jaxon is curator of the Library Foyer Gallery. She can be reached at

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