making things

Handmade is where it's at.

Handmade is where it's at.

Come out and support local, independent art makers!

Friday December 3rd (that’s tonight!) – 6:30 till 8:30pm

Saturday December 4th – 10am till 3pm

Blackbird Studio // 485 Park St. Peterborough

wonder women

group felting piece

group felting piece

a week or so ago i was honored to spend a couple of hours with the wonder women. it’s been a while since we’ve gotten together to create, and it always feels good to be in their company.

this time i came to them, and carted along a big tub of wool roving and enough felting needles to start a small war. i had pre-cut circles out of shrunken sweaters – we used that as our base, and then with sweet creativity and great gusto, we played.

there were a few pricked fingers, a lot of big laughs, and – i’m pretty certain – a wonderful and delighted satisfaction by the end.

i just finished stitching the circles together today, and suspended the finished piece from a branch i picked up on my last visit to the magical beach.

i think it’s quite charming, really. collaborative art-making at its simplest and finest.




when someone takes notice.

Culture Days 2010

Culture Days 2010

if you’ve been following this blog at all, then you’ll know how excited this little bird was a couple of weeks ago when our community felting project, charmingly named So HeartFELT, took place as part of the  nation-wide Culture Days activities.

well, as if the day itself wasn’t encouraging enough – all those people coming out and creating together and learning something new – but since then our little project has been noticed and encouraged by the Culture Days organizers themselves. it’s not that you always need the folks in charge to tell you that your work was good, but it sure doesn’t hurt when they do.

indulge me for a minute and give this a read:

Media Release / October 1, 2010
Culture Days fever takes over 700 cities & towns
Hundreds of thousands celebrate first annual Canada-wide event

2011 dates announced: September 30 – October 2

October 1, 2010 – For three days, hundreds of thousands of Canadians in every province and territory celebrated arts and culture in their communities during the first annual edition of Culture Days, a free, grassroots, Canada-wide event designed to inspire and catalyze greater public participation in arts and culture.

From Sept. 24 to 26 (Sept. 17 to 19 for Alberta Arts Days), artists, groups, organizations and municipalities in more than 700 Canadian cities and towns opened their doors and offered 4500 free Culture Days hands-on classes, excursions, tours, demonstrations, seminars, panels and behind-the-scenes experiences.

Culture Days 2010 marked the biggest event of its kind in Canadian history.

“The first edition of Culture Days was a resounding success as thousands of artists and organizations opened their doors to Canadians in every province and territory simultaneously for the first time,” says Antoni Cimolino, Chairman of Culture Days’ national Steering Committee and General Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. “Hundreds of thousands of Canadians in every corner of the country enjoyed an enormous variety of activities. Strong attendance and an enthusiastic response have been the common experience in communities large and small. We are thrilled at the response to the inaugural event and thank all activity organizers, volunteers, partners and collaborators for their participation and support.”

A snapshot of Culture Days activities that took place across the country:

Cross-Canada Activities

  • Over 20,000 came out to Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto on September 23 for CBC Live! A Culture Days Kick-Off featuring performances, special Culture Days programming and meet and greets with CBC stars.
  • Over 10,000 people took part in CBC open houses, meet and greets and other events at its broadcast facilities in St. John’s, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
  • 35 dance studios across Canada and the U.S. invited their students to participate in a live-streamed  Master Class by famed Canadian dancer Rex Harrington at the National Ballet of Canada. In Toronto, 30 participants took part and 50 observed. The session was also viewed in 450 homes across the nation.
  • Over 280,000 people took part in Word on the Street (WOTS) events in 5 cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Saskatoon and Kitchener.

Western Canada

  • 1,600 people enjoyed 25 activities ranging from behind-the-scenes tours to performances to artist meet and greet events organized during Alberta Arts Days by The Banff Centre and galleries and museums around Banff.
  • 1,500 people came out for the Prince George BC Rivers Day Music Festival.
  • 70 people attended a rare open choir rehearsal for Lillian Alling at the Vancouver Opera.
  • The Artists on the River Festival at Fraser Discovery Centre in New Westminster attracted 2,500 people.

Prairie Provinces

  • The Saskatoon Community Wind Ensemble’s activity attracted over 200 people.
  • 4,500 attended the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s collaboration with the city’s first Nuit Blanche event.
  • In Flin Flon, MB a flash mob of over 300 gathered for an impromptu dance down Mainstreet. The small northern city, boasting a population of less than 6,000, attracted 5,000 people from across the region.
  • Over 800 people took part in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Dance Downtown! event.


  • Visual artist Ben Benedict welcomed 200 people into his home studio in London.
  • 46,000 people participated in the The Manifesto Festival activities in Toronto.
  • 60 people, ages 2 to 82-years-young, participated in the So heartFELT felting project in Peterborough.
  • The Liberian Cultural Festival welcomed 100 people in Toronto.


  • As part of Journées de la culture, the Théâtre de Quat’ Sous in Montreal was at full capacity with over 60 participants at a behind-the-scenes make-up and costume workshop which was followed by an open rehearsal of their latest production, Opium_37.
  • Over 600 people attended Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain’s Hommage to Paul-Émile Borduas, featuring signing by the Opéra de Montréal, aquarelle workshops, presentations by local artists and guided tours of the museum’s current exhibits.


  • Over 250 people attended the Fall Harvest Day at the Albert County Museum in Hopewell Cape, NB.
  • Sing Out, presented by the N.S. Choral Federation and the Association of Canadian Choral Communities attracted 200 participants in Halifax.
  • 3,000 people participated in Fall for Bear River Festival activities in Bear River, NS, a village of a few hundred.
  • 450 peopled dined with the Conseil scolaire-communautaire Évangéline in PEI at their back-to-school picnic.
  • 118 people participated in the Doors Open Day at the Musée acadien and Galerie d’art Louise et Reuben-Cohen at the University of Moncton, NB.

Newfoundland & Labrador

  • 750 people participated in Labrador Fishery Film Festival.
  • 100 people joined in the celebration at the Spirit of Newfoundland’s Masonic Temple to hear the City of St. John’s Pipe Band and to dance with the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

Northern Canada

  • 175 visitors attended the Migratory Passages exhibition at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre where artists from Quebec and Northwest Territories demonstrated their craft.
  • Over 250 people participated in activities at the Yukon Arts Centre, including children and their parents creating Opera Capes.

To consult the activities that took place during Culture Days, please see and search by postal code, city or town on the home page.

Across the country, thousands of enthusiastic comments are coming in from activity organizers and the public alike. Denis and Audrey Grantham of Niagara Falls, ON, commented on participating in the Shaw Festival’s Sing Like the Pros workshop: “We took part in the sing-along this morning, and thought it was fabulous. We were handed music by Kurt Weil, and got to sing this very complex music in 3 parts, finally providing a chorus for actual members of the cast. It was challenging, exhausting and utterly enjoyable. Thank you all so much for giving us the chance to do this. We look forward to next year.”

On presenting a hands-on felting workshop in Peterborough, ON, Raechelle Vyn from Blackbird Studio said “Thank you for making Culture Days happen and for giving me a great excuse to take art outside of my studio and into the heart of my community.”

Mark your calendars! Culture Days 2011 (Journées de la culture in Québec and Alberta Arts Days) will take place in every province and territory from Friday, Sept. 30 to Sunday, Oct. 2. You too can join the national Culture Days movement by hosting an activity in 2011 and following Culture Days conversations. Subscribe to the newsletter at and connect with Culture Days on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. View Culture Days photos from celebrations across Canada on Flickr.

Culture Days is a volunteer-driven, grassroots movement led by arts-lovers, cultural aficionados and the arts and cultural sector in collaboration with municipalities, public funding agencies, provincial governments and the private sector. In coordination with a national Steering Committee, volunteer provincial Task Forces rallied professional and community-based cultural organizers to offer activities during Culture Days, and, supported by national promotional campaign, promoted the event to the public at the regional and local levels.

An initiative that brings the Canadian public and artists and cultural groups closer together, Culture Days was launched in 2010 to celebrate the creative vitality of every community across the country. The initiative was inspired by the 13-year success of Québec’s annual Journées de la culture event and spurred on by Alberta Arts Days, and the pilot project spOtlight in southern Ontario.

About Culture Days

Culture Days ( is a collaborative pan-Canadian volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. Culture Days was initiated by four Founding Partners: The Canadian Arts Summit, Culture pour tous (producer of les Journées de la culture), Canada Council for the Arts and The Banff Centre. National partners supporting the development of Culture Days include Founding Lead Partner Sun Life Financial, Power Corporation of Canada, The Government of Alberta and the Department of Canadian Heritage. National Media partners include CBC, The Globe and Mail and St. Joseph Communications. Provincial partners include Government of Alberta, SaskCulture, Manitoba Homecoming, Government of Manitoba, Ontario Arts Council, Government of Ontario, Government of Prince Edward Island, Government of New Brunswick, Government of Newfoundland & Labrador, and the Government of Northwest Territories. Culture Days was inspired by Journées de la culture, produced by Culture pour tous in Québec since 1997.

even the wind wanted to play with us that day.

a first time felter, diving right in

a first time felter, diving right in

A list of observations from a day of making art with wool and a hodgepodge of neighbours:

1. if you build it, they will come

2. old dogs, and young pups, can always learn new tricks

3. wind and wool aren’t always the best combination

4. it takes courage to step out and try something new

5. bravery comes in all shapes and sizes

6. the delight of discovering something new is  beautiful to watch

7. creativity is empowering

8. just because we haven’t, doesn’t mean that we can’t

9. time flies when you’re having fun

10. when we work shoulder to shoulder we don’t feel like strangers anymore

11. art is best when served al fresco, with friends

...starting to take shape...

...starting to take shape...

small hands, big ideas

small hands, big ideas

being brave

being brave

close up...

close up...

Culture Days 2010 - the motivation to make this happen

Culture Days 2010 - the motivation to make this happen

one of the finished pieces, hanging in the Silver Bean Cafe

one of the finished pieces, hanging in the Silver Bean Cafe

Thank you so much to all who came out and took part in our felting masterpiece. To those who scheduled it in to their busy day, and to those who stumbled on us by accident and stayed to play…thank you. It would not be what it is without you.

And a huge thank you to the Silver Bean Cafe for offering us their lovely patio, and being such generous supporters of this idea. Also to Bridget at Needles in the Hay, for her wonderful contribution of needles and wool. Until Thanksgiving weekend you can drop by the Silver Bean to see one of the finished pieces on display. Stay tuned to find out where you can wander to after that to check out these incredible works of community art!

half-man, half-machine

one of the best quotes from our community art project down at the Silver Bean Cafe this past friday, came from a young boy who, after a minute or two of trying his hand at needle-felting, looked up at me and said:

“You know that I am half-man, half-machine at this, don’t you?”



so HeartFELT

Community felting project at Shelter Valley Folk Festival, Sept. 2010

Community felting project at Shelter Valley Folk Festival, Sept. 2010

good things happen when people come together and create.

as part of the Canada wide Culture Days events, Blackbird Studio is setting up a community felting project at the Silver Bean Cafe, on Friday September 24th from 10am till 3pm. wander down to the cafe and try your hand at needle felting – it’s fun, and it’s easy…and the whole event is FREE!

bring a friend, your kids, your grandmother, your neighbour. the more the merrier.  you can stay for a few minutes or a few hours.

come and be part of making art happen…helping culture grow…


A few weeks ago, here at Blackbird Studio, we spent a Sunday afternoon with soapy, fuzzy hands, learning how to wet felt with wool.

There were some incredible wool hats that were created (and a tea cozy too!).

Stay tuned for more felting workshops coming up in the next few months.

Felting really is an amazing, delightful – and addictive! –  adventure…






…one of the finished pieces…


felt the afternoon away


Spring is here, and the warm weather is coming…but I’ve decided to try to squeeze in one more felting workshop before the flowers are up and the grass is green. Think of it as a chance to revel in the best parts of winter; to wrap yourself in cozy wool one more time before you put it in hibernation for the summer months.

On Sunday April 11th, from 2 – 4 pm, we are going to have a laid back felting session where you will have the chance to learn some of the basic wet felting techniques (which is very different from the shrunken recycled felting that we have done in the past), and work on creating your own felted hat or scarf (or other creative variation on those things).

The process is really fun – the colors, the textures – it’s like sculpting with wool.

My friend, Beth Sheffield, who is a new but fervent felter, will be coming to help walk us through the wet felting process. It will be an afternoon of learning together, figuring things out, and having fun with this yummy (and forgiving) fibre.

The cost for the workshop is $25 (or pay- what-you-can).
This cost includes all of your materials.

Space is limited, so sign up right away at to reserve yourself a spot.

the work of our hands.

some really good things happened this past weekend here at Blackbird Studio… our first annual Makers of Things show happened… an inspiring collection of art and craft and handmade goods were shown off and sold off and taken home as new found treasures… a lot of cider and sugar cookies were consumed…babies giggled and friends chatted and the work of our hands was celebrated with lots of style and good cheer…


erin 3erin 1erin 7erin 4

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Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015