Amid the wires and fire-retardant tape are forgotten keys and shiny, metal, thingamajigs that once kept jet planes aloft.
“I love going to hardware stores,” Squamish resident Fran Solar says as she picks up a twisted metallic mesh used to keep determined slugs off juicy lettuce leaves.
To Solar, the odds and ends discarded by handymen or sold at airplane manufacturer Boeing's outlet store in Seattle ooze of art. They're geometric shapes, smooth and rusty surfaces that provide a palette of creativity for the former interior designer to draw upon.
Twenty-three years ago, having moved from Toronto to Squamish, Solar tired of the blankets and sweaters she wove together on her loom. After taking a series of classes on basket making, one day she decided to replace the yarn on her wooden loom with coloured wires. This resulted in gravity-defying structures that neatly meld the hardness of metal with the delicacy of woven patterns. It also opened the door to a new art medium for Solar.
“I really like texture and colour,” she says as she runs her fingers over the thin wires in a brass-coloured woven basket.
Besides her alien sponge-like metal baskets, Solar dabbles in what she calls Steampunk. The wall hangings pair metal shapes of different sizes and textures with the treasures she finds from her hunts in hardware stores and scrap bins — bicycle gears, pennies, beer cans braided into various shapes.
“I had no idea I would ever wind up doing this,” she says while glancing over a wall hanging fitted with springs and old pipes.
On Aug. 3 and 4 and Sept. 21 and 22, Solar is opening her studio to the public as a part of the Squamish Art Crawl. The unconventional textile artist is sharing her space with jeweller Susan Remnant and ceramic artist Marcelle Armatage.
Fifteen studios have signed onto the tour. On Friday, Aug. 2, the art crawl is hosting an opening reception at the Squamish Arts Council building in downtown's O'Siyam Pavilion Park. From 5:30 to 7 p.m. the Squamish Academy of Music (SAM) and Squamish Nation dancers will be on hand to get the party started. For more information on the Squamish Art Crawl, visit www.squamishart.com.