Neighbourhood Walks and Talks: Lucille Crighton – A Textile Arts Hall of Famer & Gifted Gardener in the Beach

Toronto’s Beach community is not only a beautiful waterfront neighbourhood with mature trees and historic houses, it is also one of the favourite places of residence for a great many artists. I was glad I had a chance to discover more about arts in the Beach when I accidentally connected with a local artist, a photographer by the name of John Dowding, during my interview with Mary Lee from Spiagga Restaurant. This gave me an opportunity to learn more about the wide spectrum of creative people in the Beach. John then connected me to Lucille Crighton who is one of Canada’s foremost textile artists.

Lucille Crighton

On a snowy afternoon, after my interesting interview with Steven Zarlenga and Paul Karamat, two creative bed and breakfast owners in the Beach, followed by an interview with John Dowding, I had a chance to visit Lucille Crighton at her home: a beautiful historic property dating back to the first part of the 20th century. Lucille has a long attachment to Beach, as her grandfather bought this very house in 1927. The brick came from rubble from the Great Toronto Fire of 1904, and Lucille took me outside to show me the darkened colour and rough texture of the bricks.

Lucille also has a long connection to the textile arts: she started weaving as a teenager. With a chuckle she says she hesitates to count the number of decades that she has been weaving now. She graduated in design arts and textile arts, has a diploma in weaving with Nell Znamierowski from FIT, NYC and also completed a program in teacher training for professional hand weavers. She has written 2 of the courses (Fabric to Fashion and Fabric Design Sample) for the OHS master weaver program.

Lucille’s house in the Beach, the bricks date back to Toronto’s Great Fire (1904)

When her children were small, she opened her own yarn store and ran classes in quilting, macramé, knitting, weaving and needlework. Lucille explained that at one point she decided to specialize in weaving because it is an in-depth craft where you never stop learning. Weaving reminds her very much of music; her brother Garry is a musician. Designing a threading is quite analogous to writing music and the intricacy of the threadings keeps you challenged for a long time.

Lucille used to teach weaving all over North America, in places such as Washington DC, Portland, Oregon, Florida and Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. All these places have weaving guilds, and they would invite her to teach colour and design in weaving. Although she enjoyed it, she had to give it up since she did not have enough time to produce the jackets that she has become so well-known for. Lucille adds that she enjoys teaching, but she loves designing.

One of Lucille’s designs

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