Dufferin artist shares passion for repurposing magazines into baskets

November 30, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Fabienne Good does basket weaving from repurposed glossy magazines. Picture that.

“I went to Switzerland to do my Masters in Art and Art Education,” Fabienne Good told the Citizen. “Generally people speak Swiss Deutsch, [there are four official languages in Switzerland]. In the school, we spoke German.”

The Swiss approach to art is more of a combined study of art from many countries and their own art scene.

“You don’t have to go far to see art in Europe,” she remarked.

Born and raised here in Dufferin, Ms. Good reflected on the differences between life here and in Europe. For inspiration, here are the beautiful wide open spaces, but she noted that in Europe, higher education is supported financially by the governments. There is a deep belief in the importance of education and the rights of young people to be able to access it.

Ms. Good’s father came here from Switzerland to farm and ran his dairy farm in Dufferin for a long time. Her mother came here, also from Switzerland, to learn English. She was a school board trustee for many years. 

For two years, Fabienne Good taught at an international school in Singapore. “I was stuck there during Covid.” she said. Yet she enjoyed her time there for the pleasant warm weather and the lush floral growth everywhere. She returned from Singapore about a year ago.

“It was hot and nice. It was wonderful,” Ms. Good commented.

Talking about education, she is concerned about the lack of creativity being taught in schools here.

“It is always going by the wayside more than everything. Critical thinking is essential. I try to foster that into the spot light when I am teaching,” she said.

Last year, she and a few friends were working at the International Plowing Match in Bowling Green, near Amaranth. They had many people doing demonstrations of weaving, carving, and using a potter’s wheel. Fabienne Good was making baskets from old magazines using upscaled material, repurposing old materials. She rolls up magazines, any kind of glossy ones, cuts the pages with scissors or a knife lengthwise and “…you end up with sticks that are pretty much the length of the page, about 4mm in diameter. Use those as your branches,” she explained, adding, “it requires a bit of elbow grease – working smarter, not harder.”

She says in her notes about the things she produces that you can’t find her materials anywhere else. She designs all her products herself. She puts her designs through Photoshop so that with the repeats, you can’t see where the line is.

Multiple fabrics are of use. Combed cotton is nice, and jersey is good for dresses and t-shirts; cotton lawn is excellent, and these come from a company that just prints on fabric on a low scale, using less water and less waste.

Spoon Flower does a print-on-demand fabric, but it is blank until she provides the designs.

“What do I suggest to do with the fabric –it is fine as reusable wrapping paper. Most people want a finished thing, though, so, I make lavender sacks or something to use.”

Her purpose in developing her line of fabric designs is her feeling that we need to have more colourful things and fun. Around this time of year, she usually dubs her lumberjack the “young Santa.”

“Last year.” she said, “I drew a stranger, every day as a project. People I saw, different features, who don’t really exist.”

She tells her students to explore their own ideas.

“I usually teach high school,” she commented. “All of the things that come up in my work. In Singapore, students came from India, Europe, Canada. Their parents were working there.”

In early March, Fabienne Good is doing a workshop at the Museum of Dufferin (MoD), basket weaving with magazines, which she will bring to the museum. She makes plastic bags into little wallets, too.

This season is busy for Ms. Good. Her work is on display and for sale at the Artful Giving at the Alton Mill Arts Centre. Hers is a good relationship with Alton, having taken some things there years ago and this year to the Fall Festival Show and Sale. When the call for submissions for the Christmas Market came, she submitted a quilt designed with all the fabric cut into triangles primarily and sewed it all together.

“It’s an oversized baby quilt,” she called it. “Could be a hanging or an accent piece. I’ve done others. When I was travelling, I was picking up fabrics. Then I wanted to design my own. I used a lot of nature inspiration– leaves. A lot I designed in Singapore, some fish and floral too.”

An ambition of Fabienne Good is to spread the importance of creativity.

Said Ms. Good, “It’s a mission, in a way, to highlight the importance of silliness and humour in art and everyday life.”

Fabienne Good’s work is likewise in the Christmas Market at the Museum of Dufferin and she is making a personal appearance at the Wellington Museum this weekend on Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3.

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