Melanie Morel

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Artist’s Statement

I have been fascinated by the loom and the art, craft, texture and mathematics of weaving for nearly thirty years.  As so often happens in life, my interest arose purely by chance.  In the 1970s, I was living in Toronto sharing a house with a group of like-minded friends.  One of my housemates was a weaver, and the loom and the intricacy of the work that could be produced with it intrigued me.

I began my creative journey with weaving lessons at the “Village Weaver” in Toronto, whose proprietors, Robert Cawood and Jan Huk, also owned a retreat and weaving school at an old schoolhouse in Belwood.  In the fall of 1979, I came to Belwood for a natural dyeing workshop, succumbed to my new interests and bought my first loom.

In 1983, I took the next plunge and bought a small getaway home in Belwood, naming it and my future business “Bellevue” – a fanciful combination of the name of the Village and the “view” of the lake there.  I began to adopt a small family of looms – some even found at garage sales – and then in 1984 I invested in the “love of her life” loom – an eight-harness custom-made oak loom, accented with hand carved acorns yet!

I continued to take courses and workshops in weaving techniques and colour theory.  One of the most engaging and inspiring of these was a Textile Design course with the inimitable William Hodge at OCA in 1988/89.  I joined the Guelph Handweavers and Spinners in the 1992 and the Guild members have become friends, teachers and sources of inspiration to me since.

The 1990s brought enormous changes to my life and art: I met and married the second love of my life; I joined the Elora Arts Council as a volunteer and found it to be a doorway to the vast local arts community; And I opened a weaving studio and craft/gift gallery on the Boardwalk in Elora.

Then the Millennium year brought floods and changes.  My husband Peter and I, and our two dogs, moved into our forever home.  With a foundation clawed out of the West Garafraxa clay and walls formed by great pine logs from New Brunswick, we are now housed in quiet tranquillity on 95 acres of pine, spruce and tamarack plantations.  Here, at what is now called “Oxy Acres”, I create my work in a loft studio – inspired by the flora and fauna surrounding me.

I work primarily in natural fibres – silk, wool, mohair, linen and cotton – but experiment and mix it up with rayon chenille, novelty yarns and some exciting new “green” fibres that are available now.  I produce functional pieces for the body, the horse and the home, relying on an innate sense and appreciation of colour to give each work a personality of its own.  I am also experimenting with some whimsical and representational mixed media pieces to get away from the loom and into the forest outside for inspiration and materials. 

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