I’m home now, having safely returned from Monterey, VA, where, in spite of actually being paid to teach, I had a wonderful restful, restorative week with two women whom I adore.  Both creative spirits, felters, not weavers, but both interested in using their skills to create art clothing, and it was a pleasure to work with both of them.

The flight home was a bit frustrating, though I’ve had much worse experiences, I was anxious to get home, since I hadn’t seen my husband in almost a month.  We were to fly in 10 minutes apart.  Sadly it wasn’t meant to be, he made it in, and then a line of severe thunderstorms moved in, over the mid-Atlantic region, and our plane had to turn around and land back in Richmond.  We waited out the storm, and finally got clearance to return to Newark, where I battled lines and angry New Yorkers, and traffic, and delays, and I exhaled slowly and remembered that this is home and I really do love to live in the metropolitan NY area.  Mostly…

I took some lovely photos, and I hope to refer back to this blog periodically to remind myself of this lovely get-away, in this lovely mountain town, in lovely western Virginia.  Did I mention it was lovely?  From the sunrise in the morning, tea on the porch before walking into town for Evelyn’s egg, bacon and cheese croissant, across the street from the studio.

There were dinner parties in the evening, Lisa’s friends joined us or invited us to dinner, each night I got to share in some of the wonderful stories of small town life.  They write books on this kind of stuff.  Everyone was so gentle, so friendly, so helpful, and I feel like I have a new family there.  We visited Deborah in her home further up the mountain, isolated, and full of the sounds of the tree frogs, and the birds.  She cooked us an excellent meal, including fresh garden pea croistini, and cold avocado soup.  I wanted to live on her porch.  The view was incredible.  (And then the rational part of me took over and all I could think was, who cuts that lawn?)

Gisela and Lisa worked hard, we all did, Gisela created patterns for simple garments, we did two and three muslins before we got them right, fine tuning the fit, so she can use the basic shapes as templates for her lovely nuno felt.

Lisa got a bit sidetracked on one of her muslins, and dug out some felt scraps, and veered off onto an adventure that netted this amazing vest.  She worked furiously to finish it so she could wear it to the final dinner party at Deborah’s.

We talked at great length about turning this into an annual retreat.  There was a lot of interest from the local residents of the town, in joining the class, there were quilters, and those interested in making garments, and we are looking at dates in May of 2011.  Once a decision is made, I’ll post the dates in my schedule on my website, and consider joining us on this retreat next year, for a Wearable Extravaganza.  We will more than likely be limiting the class to 8, and Lisa has an entire house available for lodging, which from what I understand will be included in the cost of the retreat.  There is so much to see and do in the area, I wished I’d had a few extra days to play tourist.  As it turned out, I settled for lunch time wanderings in the local craft shops and galleries.  Of course I did my best to support the local economy.  And Hap’s Sweet Potato Fries are the best!

I’m still unpacking, but I managed to get through the stack of mail.  One media mail package intrigued me, I didn’t recognize the return address.  I did one of those, “Gee, wonder what I ordered?”

I couldn’t believe it when I pulled out of the envelope three Award Certificates.  My Frosted Florals Dress took first place at the Fiber Celebration 2010 exhibit sponsored by the Northern Colorado Weavers Guild, held in the Tointon Gallery for the Visual Arts, Greeley, CO . There were some photos of the exhibit posted on the internet, though I didn’t see my dress in any of the photos.  There was a monetary award with the first place certificate, and then to my incredible surprise, there was another certificate under it, for second place (with another monetary award) in the functional division for my Celebration Bag.  I’m really thrilled to get this award, since I had entered that bag in the Convergence Tampa Bay Functional exhibit and it wasn’t accepted.  And so it goes…

The final award of the three turned out to be the Halcyon Yarns Award, no mention of the criteria, but with it came a book on Collapse Weave by Anne Field, creating three-dimensional cloth.  I already have the book on my shelf, but I’m sure one of my guilds could use it in their library, or I’ll start a library collection for my daughter…  Maybe this is a sign from the universe that I have to actually open the book and experiment with the structures…

So now, I have mapped out a strategy for preparing for two very intensive workshops, one at the Newark Museum, a fiber boot camp, no experience necessary, just four days of all kinds of fiber techniques, great for fiber artist wannabes, and of course, the unwieldy Convergence, where I’ll be entertaining more than 230 students in six seminars and a day long workshop.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a little overwhelmed…  So the next couple of weeks, interspersed with some family events and getaways, will be all about printing, prep, packing, and preparing for both of these events.  Oh, and there is my Weavezine column to write…  But first, a trip to Jerry’s Art supply in search of a 24″ spiral bound notebook so I can use the spiral ring in my Rest in Peace faculty piece…  Stay tuned…

California Finale

I’m sitting in the Ontario, California airport.  The ticket counter doesn’t even open for another couple hours.  I have a flight to Houston at 1am.  So I have a long wait.  But no matter.  I love airports actually.  I am anonymous, I can sit and read, sleep, play with my laptop, and be alone.  Which after five days at a whirlwind intense conference, I desperately need.

This was an amazing experience, in so many ways.  I got a major creative infusion, and shared so much with so many old and new friends, I got some much needed creative feedback, and am able to make a bank deposit again after so many months of not teaching.  All five days of my seminars and workshops were great.  The students enthusiastic, and easy to work with.  Very Californian!  The weather was refreshing after leaving Newark right after a snow storm.  Not too hot, but warm enough in the sun to eat outside.  I had some amazing food, and got to know my roommate, Judy Ness, wonderful person, and superb rug weaver.  I love meeting new people, getting to know them, sharing a room, turns out she does yoga in the morning like me, we both celebrated the sunrise, noting that our room in the Marriott faced east.  We would wander off in the early mornings for breakfast, and on Saturday morning, finding our favorite place closed on weekends, we found a Coffee Bean, where we got a bite, listening to a young guy on an acoustic guitar playing Led Zeppelin.  It was an interesting California experience.

eggplantgreensartichokesOn the way back from our breakfast, in the middle of the street, vendors were setting up their booths with fresh produce, fruits and vegetables, for a weekly farmers market.  For someone who recently left NJ in the snow, this was a feast of color, texture and some amazing shapes I’ve never seen. I’ve changed the wallpaper on my desk top to be this splash of green and red in the fresh lettuces on display.  The eggplants were a gorgeous color, on the aqua color tablecloth, and I can see using the color combination in a new piece.  I love artichokes, and I’ve never seen artichokes this big.

runway1runway2finalebackstageSaturday’s class was on photographing your work.  Students sent in their images ahead of time, and after the three hour presentation I did on what to do and what not to do, plus all the technical information, we sat around critiquing their images.  All of us learned a lot, and appreciated each other’s feedback.

I finished up the class, and raced over to the convention center for the fashion show rehearsal.  I have attended many many conference fashion shows, and I will say, hands down, the Association of Southern California Handweavers puts on the best one of all.  The level of talent is huge, and the coordination and organizing of the show is always excellent.  And what I love about this particular show, is that the weavers and fiber artists themselves do the modeling.  Having a professional model in your work is nice, but seeing the person who made the work, wearing something from their hands, presents the complete package.  These women and men were thoroughly enjoying themselves, and though I spent most of the show backstage waiting for my entrance, the crowd from what I could hear was thrilled with the production.

My turn came about 3/4 of the way through the show, and the blinding runway lights notwithstanding, the cheering supportive audience made it clear, the dress I worked so hard on was a hit.  I blogged about this dress, all through January and February, I called it Frosted Florals, and I felt great in the dress, it was all worth it.  My roommate did her best shooting photos of me from her seat in the audience, and she captured the moment well.  Later she snuck backstage to get an additional photo of me in the dress.

Sunday morning started really early, with the time change, and the early morning coffee with keynote speaker John Marshall, I know John, we have taught together at many conferences, but I’ve oddly never heard him speak, and he was terrific.  He said a lot of things that I’ve never thought about, talked a lot about color literacy, seeing in three dimension, which I do, and I found, as tired as I was, I hung on every word.

My final seminar was teaching inkle weaving for about 15 students.  They brought some challenging looms, and it was a group effort to get everyone warped up, but they stuck with it, and produced some beautiful bands, many of them advancing to pick-up techniques by the afternoon.

I was packed up by five, and waiting with my feet up for my ride to the airport.  It was an exhausting week.  Now I’ll just curl up with my Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novel, great airport reading, and wait for the ticket agent so I can check my 140 pounds of luggage.  It was a great week, but I sure will be glad to get home.