Last week I packed up my warm weather clothes and hopped on a plane. I was commissioned to hold a fiber arts workshop in Tuscon, Arizona. I left a foot of snow on the ground with a hopeful suitcase full of shorts and light clothes to match predicted highs in the mid eighties. And Tuscon came through! I had a fabulous time at the workshop, and the beautiful high desert setting didn’t disappoint either. I’ve never been to a climate like that before—it’s so distinct from anyplace I’ve ever been. I’ve seen cacti in New Mexico, but never stands of saguaros and dense fields of cacti. There were even saguaros in the medians of the highways! I was amazed!
I found it fascinating that there were no trees or bushes taller than about fifteen feet. Somehow that makes the sky look even bigger. The days were wonderfully warm in the mid eighties every day. Even better, the group of seven people in the workshop were just an enthusiastic bunch, bringing varied backgrounds and experiences.
Some had done extensive workshops in tapestry and were used to being very rigid and structured and exacting. I tried to push them out of their comfort zone and into creating organic shapes with non-conventional materials. They mixed different weights and types of yarns and it was interesting to watch them evolve and grow into their more relaxed and reflective creations.
Others had never woven in their lives, so the idea of creating fabric from yarn was novel and exciting. They were all ready to try new things and take on challenges. That made it even more rewarding for me. When I teach workshops I never begin with a preconceived notion of what the art should look like at the end. I never hold paint by number workshops—I try to be very much open as to how the process develops.
Every hour or so I introduce a new technique, approach or combination that people may incorporate or explore as well. Every couple of hours we have a stretching fest where I get all of the participants to stand up and move their bodies [I’m thinking of you, Darrelyn]!
The participants and I then walk around to see how others are interpreting the new techniques. By the end of the workshop the people are creating their own applications and sharing what they developed with their cohorts. They all seemed happy with what they accomplished.
Overall, I’m delighted with how everything turned out.
I have to thank my hosts for the five days stay, Lura and Jill. Oh my gosh they were just so perfect!
We had such a wonderful time. I’m so incredibly grateful to them for hosting me. They were everything from tour guides to wine stewards and baristas. They came with two wonderful dogs, Teddy and Romie, who took me for walks through the neighborhood each evening. I discovered amazing rock hounding, learned the names of mountains and plants, and was able to pepper them with questions about the flora and fauna.
Lura is a fabulous gardener and she always had a thoughtful answer to my questions about what I observed. She is also a production weaver and creates baby blankets and chenille scarves and shawls. Jill spins exceedingly fine yarn. I think her favorite is silk and wool that she uses to create lacework. They work with local cotton growers and are a resource for the processed cotton products in a rainbow of natural colors. They are both retired nurses that saw the light and are now both fiber people, which gave us a lot to talk about. Plus, they’re just a lot of fun—we laughed a lot.
There is a funny story about how the workshop came to be. About two years ago Wendy, one of the workshop participants, saw my work on Pinterest and contacted me about visiting Tuscon to do the workshop. The cogs turned slowly but effectively. Roxanne, the workshop coordinator, brought the whole trip together. I’m very grateful to both of them for making this all work out. I came home with a brain full of textures, colors and ideas. I’m not exactly sure how that will translate into my own work but somehow I know it will. I’ve already been hearing from my friends that I’ll be needle felting cacti and using toothpicks for spines. Everyone has an idea for me.
I came home to a wonderful family with open arms and lots of hugs. Plus the house was clean—OMG! It was terrific to see my family. On Friday I launched back into SOS (Sounds of South) costumes and I just about completed the Le Fou jacket. This is a costume I sketched on a piece of scrap paper as I watched the boys do Taekwondo before I left.
It would be done now if the rainy Friday didn’t prevent me from spray painting the buttons I needed. Oh, and on the way home I did some sketching for still more costumes. I need to accommodate the new additions to SOS that auditioned into the group while I was gone. Things are moving along well on the costumes in progress over the past few weeks, such as completing Babette’s feather duster gloves.
We riveted the napkin ring waistband closures and laced up the last of the village boy’s shirts. And no blog would be complete without mentioning the pie status, especially on international pie day (3.14.15). Sadly, the closest I came was cold, leftover pizza pie with my coffee this morning. Ugh! The fruit fairy really needs to visit soon.
Until next week,