Textile artist creates her own patterns


Standing with and wearing some of her textile work, Anne Boudreau’s tactile art will be displayed at the library until the end of this month.
— Angele Cano/NNSL photo

Anne Boudreau’s artwork can at first appear to be as methodical as her day job, but behind her textile work is a lot of creativity.

An accountant/bookkeeper by day, a textile artist by evening and weekend, Boudreau said she tried other mediums, but they were never for her. So she has stuck it out with textiles since 1984 when she graduated from Ontario’s Georgian College, where she initially went for industrial design.

On display this month at Hay River’s NWT Centennial Library are her wares: wall-hangings, rugs, blankets, scarves, knitted wire bracelets, and even a makeshift loom complete with cardboard and string.

That’s just to demonstrate to people that they don’t need a huge setup to do it,” said Boudreau. “If they really wanted to try the loom, they could do it on their own.”

Some of Boudreau’s intricate patterns seem very formulaic, and that’s exactly where she chooses to contradict this method. She could follow a pattern, but she designs her own instead. That practice adds hours to the process, but also makes it more enjoyable and creative.

It might only take 20 minutes to weave a medium-sized article on her 45-inch-wide loom, but it can take up to five hours to set up, including design and preparation, and how fast you wind your warp. That is the process of prepping the loom with materials. Time taken for that process alone – up to two hours – depends on the type and amount of different material.

Boudreau also knits and crochets, crediting those hobbies with what got her into textiles.

But the loom is still her favourite creative outlet.

I actually like that part,” said Boudreau. “A lot of weavers don’t. You can buy kits already wound with a pattern, but I actually like designing my own. The weaving just sort of made sense. I like that it’s tactile and how different materials feel.”

Boudreau sets up shop with her work at various permanent and mobile venues around town. She sells her wares at the Hay River Winter Market, and sporadically at craft sales and art shows to tourists and Hay River residents alike.

A northerner for five years and a Hay Riverite for more than three, she has thought of working at her art more than she is currently. She sells many items, but makes sure there’s plenty to outfit herself and to give away as gifts.

She recently sported a woven scarf in one of her favourite colours (purple) and a pair of soft wool mitts with a green and purple honeycomb pattern against a beige backdrop.

I have a hard time buying stuff I know I can make, even though it’s not that it’s any cheaper,” she said. “Sometimes it can cost you up $100 to knit a sweater. You are going to be handling it a lot. You want to use the right material for the right end product.”

But it doesn’t always need to be a pricey pastime for anyone interested in trying, she said.

Some of the blankets and rugs she weaves are made with items from the thrift store that are picked out, ripped up and shredded into loom-friendly strips.

Just because you have a sheet with a rip in it, it doesn’t mean it can’t still be used,” noted Boudreau.

— Angele Cano