Things are popping in the studio! I have recently returned from three weeks of classes, I have a new assistant, and I am so excited to be creating again! Read on for more details!
Natural Dyes class
I took a week long class at Common Ground on the Hill at the beginning of July. CGOTH takes place in Westminster, MD for two weeks every summer. They have classes on traditional arts and crafts and lots of chances to play and/or hear good fiddle and banjo music.
I chose to take the Natural Dyes class with Pat Brodowski. Pat is the vegetable gardener at Monticello and knows a huge amount of information about the plant world. I have been wanting to learn how to dye things using the plants around my house and so I was thrilled to spend five mornings gaining lots of useful information. To be honest, I’m not sure I will take the time to harvest and prepare the natural dyes, but it was thrilling to see the magic that is involved with changing a simple piece of white fiber into an awesome color.
Sculptural Weaving Class
The day after the natural dyes class I packed up my car and trundled off to Penland School of Crafts in NC. I have been wanting to take a class here for years. After doing some research, I found that Nathalie Miebach was teaching a two week class on Sculptural Weaving at Penland. I signed up immediately and was fortunate enough to be first on the waiting list. I was thrilled when I got into the class!
First of all, Penland is a magical place. The setting is awesome, it is nestled on the side of one of the mountains. I won’t go into all the history of the place, you can read about it on their website. It’s goal, however, is to foster creativity in all the craft media, from glass to iron to jewelry…and on and on. To spend two weeks surrounded by other excited artists having to answer to no one but myself and to create something amazing…well it was just heaven. And the food is really good too!
Nathalie is a great teacher, very organized, passionate and curious. Every day there were at least two demonstration lectures plus a series of power point presentations. The studio was open 24 hours and I made use of many of them.
I learned many traditional basket weaving techniques which has already sparked some changes in how I think about my work. My mind is swirling with new terms: spokes, weavers, twining, plaiting, hexagonal weave, paper rush, reed, etc. We were encouraged to push the boundaries, discard the idea of basket as vessel and create wonderful sculptures.
I could write for hours on my experience, but instead I will leave you with some visual reminders of my time there including my finished sculpture. The creative process was fascinating, lots of angst, some problem solving at 3:30 a.m. and a lot of letting go of preconceived notions. (Check out my blog post about the process of creating this piece.) The title of the sculpture is Contemplation of a Life. All I will say about it is that it is a response to having to clean out my parent’s house last summer. For more pictures of this sculpture, go to my website.
And my final bit of news is that I have a studio assistant! Willy Mueller just graduated from high school and works full time for a kitchen cabinetry company until he starts college this fall. He knows how to use power tools (a definite bonus in my world), is big and strong enough to lift heavy objects (another bonus) and works very hard. In the short time that he has been helping me out, we have finished the frames of the last two sections of the ribbon piece and prepped four baskets. If this keeps up my production is going to be through the roof! Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a little bit, but it is still thrilling to get so much work done in a weekend.
Look for my next newsletter to come out at the beginning of September!