March 2021

Happy Spring!

The seeds and bulbs we planted are starting to peek out of the soil- metaphoric ones as well.  We have two workshops coming up, our education collaboration has borne some fruit, and we are still aiming to coordinate a swap (or three) in the Spring, once it seems safe.  We also have two more issues of Extember in the works, contributions sought under these broad themes: Flora & Fauna and Cloth, with some timely contributions coming on planting/ egg dying/ foraging... stay tuned for that.

The image below is from WIP artist Marnie Saskin @marniesaskinsmallbatchgoods paper mache pods drying on a line, an image that remind us of seed pods or animated characters in a studio Gigli film.  We'll take a closer look in an upcoming edition of Extember. They have since morphed into props in a window display and lamps in her studio. You don't always know where you're going when you start but you'll never get there if you don't.
Read our latest Blog post now
 In this newsletter:
  • Coming up: Make a shopping bag from your own T-shirt / Clothing Swap info Workshop as part of Building Roots' Do it Together Series March 28th 3pm
  • Coming up: DIY Patterning workshop as part of the Sustainable Textile Teach-in series at the Textile Museum of Canada April 21 530-7pm (Earth Day Eve)
  • Wrapping up for Spring Break/ culmination group project with educators from SAL and TDSB 
  • UPDATE: Earth week Clothing Swap plans (still hopeful for April/May 2021)
  • ONLINE: new posts on composting,  circular households and videos featuring repair revolutionary Anna Borstad
  • What you can make: tie dyed eggs (this will be tested by community scientist/artists- including you!)
  • Find out more:  Links
check out WIP instagram feed now
Don't forget you can follow us on instagram or check out our blog at and please reach out with comments, suggestions or to volunteer time, space or skills to the collective

Coming up March 28th: Workshops and kit creation in partnership with Building Roots

We are happy to be working with Building Roots, and are especially excited to be part of the friendly umbrella of the Do it Together workshop series, curated by Kate Hamilton out of the Moss Park Market, now online.

Our first workshop is this coming Sunday, March 28th from 3-4pm, a simple hand sew (or machine sew) project making a shopping bag out of an old T shirt.  We use these bags in our clothing swaps ("fill a bag for $5 or best offer") and we plan to discuss both the wonders of t shirt as a material for up-cycling ("doesn't fray! stretches! multi-coloured!") and also the benefits and challenges of clothing swaps. We are trying to build a community of reusers...
Register for the workshop now or find out more about DIT series
To aid participants, we want to provide materials and tools as well as techniques.  So we want to offer T shirt kits (used T shirts we have collected- the label on the bag says " wear it, make it into a bag, give it as a gift- we just want them to stay in use") and basic (no waste) sewing kits. Building roots is partnering with us on all this in a fabulous multitude of ways.  Supplies: they bought scissors and seam rippers for the kits, we donated jars and thread and felted wool that we have from former swaps and donations. Labour: They donated bags and staples and volunteers, and we all got together last Friday to put together these and future kits from the fabric stash donated from the Textile Museum of Canada. Infrastructure and institutional support: they are advertising the workshops, taking orders for kits on their bookshare program, and distributing them through the Saturday farmers market at Moss Park ( 260 Queen St E , open Saturday 11-4pm)
Of course, before we did that, we needed to design and print some beautiful instructional pamphlets- because art makes it real.  Another artist to the rescue, graphic designer (and face painter) Treya Beaulieu made some beautiful "how to" pamphlets to share with the kits and these will also be available online on our website if you want to try it on your own. Treya also made our Community Clothing Swap posters in the Fall.

This project is supported by the City of Toronto through its Waste Reduction Community Grants and by the Ontario Arts Council through its Artists in Education and School Grants.
Go to "how to make it" on our website to view/download pamphlets

Textile Museum partnership and upcoming workshop April 21

We are continuing to work with the Textile Museum of Canada and their Sustainable Textile Teach-In workshops! This series of workshops  have been very popular with their focus on textile reuse, repair and upcycling. Last year, Works-In-Progress facilitated online mask-making and visible mending and repair workshops as part of the series. This year, we are excited to be partnering with the Museum to produce videos and online resources based on the Sustainable Textile Teach-Ins as well as on Building Roots’ Do-It-Together workshops.


Watch out for our upcoming workshop on DIY Patterning on Wednesday, April 21 ( Earth Day eve) with the Textile Museum of Canada! Registration opening soon.

This project is supported by the City of Toronto through its Waste Reduction Community Grants, and by the Ontario Arts Council through its Artists in Education and School Grants.

Wrapping up: Collaborative learning / curriculum development

Since February, we've been delighted to meet weekly with a group of educators and students online to discuss creative processes and making from an upcycling perspective. This "Small Victories" group of students is learning in a non-traditional environment and we are having fun trying different techniques together and modelling the practice of finding that creative voice that feels authentic and satisfying.
This work is under the umbrella of our creative re-use "tool kits" grant from the Ontario Arts Council, developing replicable, creative approaches to using unconventional materials into educators' teaching toolkits.
By happy circumstance, this group also connected with artist Marina Dempster, and having her join in the meetings has been inspiring and creatively nourishing. She currently has a show on at the Art Gallery of Burlington with Meera Sethi, curated by Hitoko Okada, called In Visible
One of the projects that the group is working towards is to contribute a worked textile square for a collaborative "Small Victories" quilt, to be eventually be displayed at Lyceum Gallery where Marina is currently the artist-in-residence.
There are some interesting ideas being developed, including reuse of disposable masks, crochet, sewing, and illustration (not all on the same project, though that's not impossible ;-)

This project is supported by the Ontario Arts Council through its Artists in Education and School Grants.

UPDATE: Earth Week 2021 neighbourhood Clothing Swaps

We still plan to host (and help others host a series of Covid-19 safe neighbourhood clothing swaps, but currently the only community events allowed by Public Health Toronto are farmer's markets (selling food primarily) we feel it is important to try to continue these swaps even during these times (perhaps especially?) because outdoor swaps can be safe way of building community and maintaining neighbourhood ties during a pandemic, and they provide access to affordable clothing. We had a great Neighbour-to-Neighbour clothing swap in September, and we want to do it again, but with more neighbourhoods.  We have a call out for collaborators in our website with lots more information. If this is something you WISH would happen in your neighbourhood- maybe it can! If you are willing to do a little work.

This project is supported by the City of Toronto through its Waste Reduction Community Grants
The grants provide funding for innovative community-based projects that reduce  residential waste and increase participation in the City's waste diversion  programs.
Check out WIP website and calendar NOW

Download copies of our 'ZINE: EXTEMBER and contribute to next issues

We have started a 'zine. It lives online and once a volume is complete, we will post the PDF and you can download, print and staple your own copy. Our first two volumes (FOOD and Sticks & Stones) are online, and you can download and print your own copy to pass around.

You can read more about it on our website HERE but basically, we wanted a creative space to stash and share what we have (collectively) learned through this experience and playful, visual ways to inspire reuse and making. The running themes are FOOD,  STICKS and STONES (seen here), PLANTS (flora & fauna) and CLOTH... 
(respond to this email with questions or contributions)

This project is supported by the City of Toronto through its Waste Reduction Community Grants, and by the Ontario Arts Council through its Artists in Education and School Grants.
Find out more about EXTEMBER: the 'zine

ON OUR BLOG: new posts on the equinox,  circular households and repair videos

More in depth articles on some of the news items above, a great article and some experiments from our lab (mostly Marnie) and new videos on patching and darning by Anna Borstad.

Something to try: (silk) tie dyed eggs!

A member of our community reached out to see if we had any silk scraps in our fabric stash... we have been using them for mask making as they make a good inner filter but sometimes they are too pretty... She sent me a link to demonstrate the idea- they are going to try it and report back in an Extember issue, but here is the link if you want to try it now with step by step directions:

Beautiful second life for old ties... if you do try it please share pix on instagram and tag us


Textile Museum of Canada
Building Roots
Ontario Arts Council Artists in Communities and School Grant program
City of Toronto Live Green Waste Reduction Community Grants
Marina Dempster
Marnie Saskin
How to tie dye eggs
Treya Beaulieu
Anna Borstad
Visit Our Blog
With support from the 

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Works-in-Progress · 362 Balliol St. · Toronto, On M4S 1E2 · Canada

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