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Skyswept Designs Maple Creek

Hand dyed, hand painted, and snow-dyed fabrics line the shelves of Skyswept Designs.

Because if it’s not fun, what are you there for?

While the rest of us are happy to see the snow finally starting to melt, with the promise of spring just around the corner, there’s one Southwest Artist who loves this time of year.  As our freezing temperatures make way for milder ones, this particular artist is happiest when it’s warm enough to go out and play in the snow, but not so warm as to melt away all of the beautiful snow.

At least it’s beautiful once she gets finished with it.

Skyswept Designs Maple Creek

Dyes applied to snow makes them look like giant snow cones.

Louise Perrin is one of North America’s only commercial snow-dyers, (to the best of her knowledge at least) and her unique Mixed Media Fibre Art Studio, SkySwept Designs, until recently, was located in Swift Current where I was able to visit and watch her at work during her yearly open house, or during the many joint-shows she helped to organize with her fellow artists.

Skyswept Designs Maple Creek

Snow-dyed rainbow of silk chiffon scarves

Sadly for those of us who live in Swift Current, but lucky for those who live in Maple Creek, Louise has recently relocated her Skyswept Design studio and her life.  Partly because the opportunity presented itself, partly because she happens to love the small town atmosphere that Maple Creek offers her, and partly because she loves the “happening” Arts Community that exists there.  With seasonal visitors pouring through the Town throughout the summer, and it’s mid-point location between Medicine Hat and Swift Current, it also gives her a whole new customer base both to sell her works to, and to offer workshops to.  And with her recent acquisition of the supplies, dyes and embellishments of the former Harmony Hand Dyes, now making her one of the only places to be able to get certain fabric dye supplies, she’s been able to boost her online business, allowing her to be located virtually anywhere.

Everytime I Snow Dye I learn something new.  There’s so much serendipity involved.

Skyswept Designs Maple Creek

Snow dyed silk charmeuse square

As for her trademark snow dyeing, Louise is well-known for her own specific style that few can imitate.  Layering her scarf, socks or other whole fabrics with snow and dye simultaneously, as the snow melts, each of the pieces become wonderful unique pieces that you simply won’t find anywhere else.  And with such names as devised by Grassland’s Gallery owner Laureen Marchand for the scarves she has in her Gallery including: “Pink Sky,” “Prairie Clover,” “Stormcloud,” and “Prairie Smoke,” their very Saskatchewaness (if that’s a word?) – lies not only in their snow medium, but right within their names themselves.

For me, I think one of the things that I love about Louise’s brand of art, is how inclusive it is for those who wish to give it a try.  While she has a number of different workshops tailored for those from beginner to advance, in a number of the fabric arts that she’s well versed in – from “How to Make a Quilt” whether by hand or machine, and  other sewing specific workshops, she also has a number of experiential workshops from a “Beginner Silk Dyeing” workshop, to a “Playing With Paint on Fabric” workshop that are more like activities you can do with a friend or a group of girlfriends.  I even had a friend who engaged Louise to run a birthday party for her teenage daughter and her friends, who I’m told all had a lot of fun doing it.

Skyswept Designs Maple Creek

Silk Scarf Dyeing activity-based workshop held this past summer at Cypress Hills Park

With a list of workshops that change and grow larger each day, there’s an abundance of fabric-related products you can make under her tutelage, and she assures me that everyone from ages 2 to 88 can take part.

From pre-kindergarten classes, to senior citizens groups, birthday parties, and “Girl’s Day Out,” she’s done them all.  She even had a family four generations-strong join her enmasse to make scarves for the rest of the family for Christmas.

And her philosophy when it comes to creating simply can’t be beat.  “The workshops are designed to let you have fun with fibre,” says Louise.  “It’s where you can come, be relaxed, enjoy and learn.”

“Because if it’s not fun,” she adds.  “What are you there for?”

Skyswept Designs Maple Creek

Skyswept Designs Maple Creek Studio

How to GoHere:  Skyswept Designs is located in Maple Creek, just head straight up Hwy 21 into Maple Creek, through the 3-way stop, past the Co-op, and you’ll find her about a block up (on the same side as the Co-op).

Gotta Go?: Have no fear – as her studio is also a residence, she openly offers up it’s use for all customers and workshop participants.

Good to Know:

  • Louise will be celebrating the Grand Opening of her new Maple Creek studio on March 20th from 1pm-7pm, featuring spring treats of both the edible and fabric variety! GoHere for all the details: Grand Opening
  • Louise will also be offering a “Fun with Fibre Mini Camp” for kids. A 3-day Fibre camp over the Easter Break from April 2-4th, where students from Grades 1-12 (at different time slots throughout the day) can makes scarves, do fibre painting, and more.  GoHere to learn more: Fun with Fibre
  • As her Studio is also her home, there is a cat on the premises, a 19 year old well-travelled feline by the name of Stanza, who is relegated to the basement during open Studio hours.  But just be advised in case you have any allergies.
  • Speaking of…Louise has environmental illnesses that make her highly susceptible to most scents, so she kindly asks students and customers alike to refrain from using perfumes or lotions when they know they’ll be visiting her.
  • If you’re shopping in the Southwest – check out Drury Lanes a ladies fashion store in Maple Creek which carries Louise’s scarves, as does the Grasslands Gallery in Val Marie.
  • Louise tries to structure her studio hours so that she has time for her own work, while still including all the trade and craft shows she attends, workshops she leads, and festivals she frequents – so her studio hours are listed as “by chance or by appointment only,” – so be sure to use one of the contacts below to make sure she is actually at her Studio when you’ll be in the area.
  • To Contact Louise Perrin at Skyswept Designs:
    Email: skysweptdesigns@sasktel.net
  • Phone: 306-741-6404
  • Website: http://skysweptdesigns.com
  • Facebook: http://facebook.com/SkysweptDesigns
  • Twitter: http://twitter.com/SkysweptDesigns
  • Blog: http://skysweptdesigns.com/