I am writing this on the plane, winging my way back to the east coast, after an exhausting but remarkable 7 guild tour in four states in just over four weeks. It seems like just a dream that this time last month I was just finishing up in Southern California, on my way to Arizona, and this last stop in Missouri, in the middle of America’s heartland, brought a very special closure to a very special trip.
I love what I do, I fly to all sorts of places in the United States, and occasionally Canada, and I meet so many different people, all devoted to creating something with their hands, and I meet the people who love them, daughters, sons, husbands, and occasionally wives. I meet many folks who are retired from one part of their lives, who have recreated themselves again in another. I get the privilege of staying with some of these wonderful people, who open their homes and their kitchens and their bottles of wine to me, and we share a little bit of each other’s stories, and I can’t imagine my life being nearly as full if I didn’t have this opportunity to travel.
This trip ended with an address to the Columbia Weavers and Spinners, and to my delight, they let me pick the topic. So I chose my standard keynote address, which is my story, as it parallels the work from my hands, and from my loom; the two intertwine, warp meeting weft. I love telling this story, because when I am finished, I am flooded by audience members who come up to me and tell me small pieces of their stories, that have unfolded as I told mine. We all have a story, and I always feel privileged when I am able to tell mine, and have someone listen, and then share theirs.
On Sunday, the guild members worked feverishly to finish up their vests in the two day vest class, sewing machines were chugging along, and I ran from student to student trouble shooting where I could, and helping to make each vest turn into a personal statement for each of them. It was great that eight of the eleven students came wearing their vests at the Tuesday night guild meeting, even though there were still quite a few pins, and unfinished handwork. And I took a photo of Bonnie’s vest, since she was the lone felter in the group, and I am always thrilled when I have a felter in a group of handweavers because the end result is so organic and freeform. Bonnie’s vest, coupled with the silky teal shirt, looked like she was swimming in a coral reef.
My hostess Mary Jane endured a lot having me stay with her, because I arrived last Friday evening, with the beginnings of a cold. She provided many boxes of tissues and many bowls of hot soup, fresh bread, and a comfortable room where I could disappear and recover. I hate when I am on the road and I get sick. But I was lucky to have some down time on this trip, and I was able to curl up with my laptop, or a good book, and take some time to recover. I did go to Facebook as often as I could, since the news from home was grim, a weekend storm caused severe flooding in my town, we lost one of our maple trees in the back yard, which took out the chain link fence on the side of the back yard, preventing the dog from using the yard until my husband got out there with the chain saw. I saw photos of homes surrounded by water, landmarks I recognized from home with parking lots filled with water, and my son’s friend and another friend’s father, canoeing down the road using brooms for paddles. I am sad for the devastation and for those still evacuated from their homes and their lives. I was safe in the middle of the country, but my heart was heavy for those who couldn’t escape.
The highlight of my trip, was a dinner with Amy D. Preckshot, who is a member of the Columbia Weavers and Spinners Guild. Amy is a special person and a testament to the spirit of the handweaver. Amy is in her mid 90’s, and has a 24 shaft Toika loom visible from the parking lot in her apartment in a retirement facility. I want to grow old and be just like Amy. Most handweavers will recognize Amy’s work, if you have seen an ad for Webs Yarn Store, recently, you’ve seen Amy’s work. The inside cover of the current issue of Handwoven Magazine features two of Amy’s giraffes in the Webs ad. Amy is known for her clever handwoven stuff animals, and has written a book called, “Weaving a Zoo”, describing the animals and how to make them, and they are the first thing to sell at the annual guild sale. My hostess Mary Jane had a collection that spanned years. Amy graciously let me take some pictures of her whimsical animals. She was planning the next one, I hear she is working on a red fox. Amy told me that I praised her garment in the fashion show when I did the technical critique at Convergence in Grand Rapids in 2006, and that she never forgot that experience. She hadn’t identified herself in the audience, so I never knew Amy was connected to the work I was critiquing. She is an accomplished tailor, years of training behind her, and I was privileged to reconnect with her, and meet however briefly on the crossroads of our journeys. I hope our paths cross again.
So I am winging my way home, only to turn around in Newark airport and meet up with the rest of my family and head south to the Carolina’s for my son Eric’s graduation from boot camp Friday. More than likely I’ll need another box of tissues to get me through graduation, I know I’ll not be able to get through that ceremony without shedding a few tears. Stay tuned…