I arrived in Tucson this afternoon, after a wonderful finish to the two day workshop in Phoenix. It surprises me how different the landscape is as you drive through Arizona. In Phoenix, my hostess lived in a development that reminded me of the architecture of a development I once stayed in in Florida. But what impresses me about Arizona is the vistas, driving along, and being able to turn in any direction and seeing for miles in any direction. I suppose it is something you get use to, and more than one person on my trip said that’s what appeals to them in this region, and when they go “home” wherever that is, that they feel claustrophobic. I’m use to tall trees and canopies of green, and I drive through Arizona and feel vulnerable and exposed. I guess it is what you are use to. The mountains are stark, and stony, and majestic, and imposing and visible whichever way you turn.
The Arizona Desert Mountain Weavers of Phoenix were a delightful guild, they worked so hard, and all 9 finished their vests by the end of the second day, except for the handwork, which is sort of a record. What surprised me the most, was how many of the students told me they hadn’t made a garment since the traumatic home ec experience in 8th grade. Listening to the discussions of getting D’s in Home Economics because of a bad sewing experience, made me so grateful that as middle aged adults, they tried it again, and woke up to the possibilities of what a sewing machine could do, especially with their handwoven fabric. There were a lot of smiles yesterday afternoon.
One of the students arranged a complex way of getting me to the next guild on my itinerary which would be Tucson, by taking me home with her for the night, an hour east of Phoenix at the base of the Superstition Mountains, and leaving after breakfast the next morning to meet someone coming up from Tucson, at a cafe in Casa Grande, the halfway point.
So I stayed at my 5th location on the trip, just for the night, in a lovely home in a retirement community, which looked like a weaver’s version of heaven. My hostess for the evening brought with her to the retirement community, all her looms and weaving equipment and each loom had a prominent location in her house. There was no dining room table, just a 24 shaft Leclerc Weavebird computerized loom. Can I say I felt right at home? We did the tour of all her books, her weaving themed collectibles, her spinning wheels, and then she took me into the living room to show me a wall piece she had acquired, an early piece of Theo Moorman’s. If you learned to weave in the 70’s, Theo Moorman was one of the key mentors and influences in the contemporary fiber movement, she wrote a wonderful tome, Weaving as an Art Form, which still sits proudly on my shelf, and my woven artworks I’ve been blogging about, are done with this technique. To see a real Theo Moorman piece was worth this entire 16 day trip to the southwest.
So now I am sitting at the kitchen table in home number six, on my last stop on this marathon tour. It hasn’t escaped me that I left NJ the same day the Olympics opened, and I will return home Sunday night, as the Olympic torch is extinguished. I will teach in Tucson for the next four days. The home I’m staying in here is spectacular. Here is a shot of the view out the window as I look up from typing. Those are the snow capped Rincon Mountains out there in the distance.
There has been so much to see, so many new people to teach, so many new kinds of food and culture and fiber things to share. I’ve loved every minute of the trip so far, and am grateful for all those who worked hard to make this possible. Four more days of teaching and I’m on my way home.