Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Charlotte Kwon

"So what can you do in Yellowknife that you couldn't do here?" is the somewhat peevish, possibly rhetorical, question sometimes posed by (some) Southern relatives.

A legitimate question, I suppose - although in answering it, my main conundrum is: where to begin?!?

Well - here's an example. My house guest this week is Charlotte Kwon of Maiwa Handprints in Vancouver: check out her company at Maiwa Handprints. Charlotte's passion is the natural dyes of this world, with a special focus on artisans in remote areas whose exquisite work does not easily reach world markets. Some years ago I had visited her store / teaching space in Granville Island (what's not to like about fibre arts in Granville Island?) and bought something there, without really knowing much about the story behind the company or the person. Then a year or so later I attended a lecture by her at ACAD (the Alberta College of Art and Design), and I began to catch a glimmer of the excitement of the field, and of Charlotte's status as one of the premier natural dyers and teachers of the natural dyeing process in Canada.

And here in Yellowknife - she's my house guest! Here she is enjoying breakfast (we share taste in strong coffee, good/unusual cheese, and prosciutto):

She's not here to visit me, of course - that was the luck of the draw of being one of the few people in my fibre group who has an extra bedroom and no pets. Rather, she's teaching a week-long workshop on natural dyeing at the Yellowknife Guild of Arts and Crafts. For her introductory Tuesday night lecture she laid out some of the luscious wares she sells at the Granville store (from India, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Peru, Mexico):


For the course itself, she also lugged natural dyes and other supplies from Vancouver:

Unfortunately, I can take only part of the course but not all of it - Aurora Chorealis has its Remembrance Day concerts this weekend, which involves two practices during the week and three appearances in different venues. That could also be an example of "what you can do in Yellowknife that you can't (or aren't likely to) do elsewhere", but that will have to keep for another posting. In the meantime, I'll enjoy Charlotte's company and learn what I can in the time that I have. I'm a lucky woman!


  1. Hello Minnie,

    You are a lucky woman indeed. I work for Charllotte in Maiwa's Supply Store on Granville Island on Saturdays. I would give anything to have her spend a few nights with me so I could just listen to her talk uninterrupted by the daily goings on of the store.

    Charllotte's passion for her work and the work of others in the world of fibre arts, her amazing first hand knowledge of all things fibre and her solid and unwavering integrity in relation to all this is why I love and admire her so much. And in this, she continues to push the envelope and evolve.

    I treasure each sound bite whenever I have the opportunity to listen to Charllotte speak. Enjoy your time with her and listen. There is so much to be learned.



    1. And of course there are many who envy you the joy of working for her at her great stores. During the course of the week I had wonderful opportunities to listen in on conversations between Charlotte and Donna MacDonald, Yellowknife's most expert dyer and the one responsible for getting Charlotte here, as the two sat and chatted over red wine after the course work was done. I appreciated her visit very very much!

  2. Hi Minnie,

    Imagine my surprise seeing your name in an email from Maiwa! sounds like quite an adventure there in Yellowknife!


  3. Send me an email if you like:

  4. MAIWA Handprints? That's my very favourite store! I used to get my silk painting supplies there. This is one green-with-envy Winnipegger!
    ~ Margerit

  5. Minnie, can you add an RSS feed to your blog so I can automatically be updated when you write something? ~ Margerit

    1. Margerit, I think you can enter your email in the box on the top right hand of the blog and you'll get sent update notices.

  6. December 2012 at 19:29

    Minnie - The answer to the question "What can you do in Yellow Knife ..." is irrelevant to everything. You can - and do - what you want, and you revel in just about everything to the extent that I'm becoming ever more certain that you have truly found your 'spirit place'.

    Personally, I think Yellow Knife is lucky to have you and, from all appearances, 'The Knife' seems to agree with me - and you. Onward, ever onward, mate. The North needs you.

    1. Brian, you are kind, and a wonderful cheerleader as always. Thanks so much!