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The Book of North Country Shifu


  • Maiwa East 1310 Odlum Drive Vancouver, BC Canada (map)
North Country Shifu.jpg

With Velma Bolyard

$695 [Includes $150 lab fee] class limit 16. May 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 2020 (Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun 10am-4pm).

Shifu is the Japanese art of spinning and weaving handmade paper into a cloth that is surprisingly lightweight, yet warm to the touch. It originally provided rural Japanese people with an inexpensive, locally made cloth. “North Country” refers to Velma Bolyard’s textile studio, located in the North Country of New York State.  

North Country Shifu is Velma’s take on traditional technique, directed toward textile, paper, and book objects that demand haptic exploration and enjoyment. The class will make, spin, weave, and write on paper with stitch and colour.

You will learn to evaluate and prepare a sheet of fine, long-fibred kozo or lokta paper to spin into kami-ito. The kami-ito is the thread that we will weave into shifu. Students will work with drop spindles and then weave on “stump looms” that we build ourselves.

The class will also work with raw flax pulp and ochre pigments to create a substrate paper for your bookish explorations. You will bind your papers into a commonplace book, housed in a strong stationer’s binding, the medieval version of a three-ring binder. This book will provide an expandable housing for your paper explorations from class and beyond.

Supply List


About Velma Bolyard

Velma Bolyard is a fibre artist, dyer, weaver, spinner, and papermaker. She uses all these skills to make her limited edition and one-of-a-kind artists’ books, which are in university collections, museum archives, and private collections in the U.S. and abroad.

Velma teaches shifu, papermaking, and artists’ books at St Lawrence University, and at other venues in North America and Australia. She shows her work at CODEX and other book arts venues. 

Velma holds university degrees in fibre art and elementary and special education; she also specializes in alternative teaching of emotionally disturbed teens. She has lived in Northern New York State most of her life, raising her two children next to the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

Earlier Event: May 6
Couture Hand-Sewing
Later Event: May 13
Tannin, Oxides & Indigo