Upcoming Workshops and Events

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Once Again - A New Year!

The upstairs dry studio ready for action
And happy holidays!  I am over the xmas blah, blah, blah. Had my big solstice party and since the end of the world didn't happen, I figured I was ready to start the planning for my favorite personal holiday - New Year's Day.
I am a resolution junkie.  I think it is a natural outgrowth of being a list maker and a big believer in the reinvention of self. And there is something satisfying to combine it all during a natural changing of the season. I'm off by a few days from the actual solstice but other than contacting NOAH and getting a current read on the exact timing of the solstice for my location (which as I write this I am wondering if that might be possible....) I like the idea of sharing resolution time with the rest of the world, on new year's day, sort of combining all of our collective efforts to give us all a greater conviction to follow through all those numbered lists.

I checked my January 1 page of last years journal and read the usual-lose weight, exercise more, become smarter and beautiful, and realized that, except for the beautiful part, I actually HAD done those things. And realized that finally, after all those tired lists of past years, I could change my physical life.  There is nothing more compelling than succeeding at something that normally has failure written all over it.  I really feel that I can think, ponder and finally commit to writing, the magic wishes for this year, and believe that I can make them happen.

1. Write a blog post every Sunday.
I follow a blog that posts every Sunday and I am quite taken with that regularity.  It comes from Australia which means, I think, that I actually read it on Monday.  http://rhondaayliffe.blogspot.com/ She has a fabulous imagination with books and their placement in the outback of her land.

2. Write more.  Be a Writer.  Answer all those vitual magazine calls for articles.  Write my Blog more. Write the next book.  Write real letters to people.....  Find a decent fountain pen.....  Use my own walnut ink.....  Strain walnut ink on stove......  Buy more bottles..... Find the right journal with great paper.....  Hey! Bind my own journal.....  Oh, make handmade paper for that journal......  Oh Oh, sign up to rent paper studio.

3. Stay Focused on the task at hand.

4. Work with my own handmade paper as a substrate. (Warning - incredibly important change)
the middle of first work on paper - not my own but I am in love with whatever it is.
And that, I think, will be what I will focus on this year.  There will be the lose the last 20 pounds, continue to eat veggies and protein (and a new plan - never keep cookies or chocolate in the house), do interval running/walking 3 or 4 times a week, sign up for maybe 2 or 3 5K runs and try to try the whole way, all those bits that keep my energy up.

So what resolutions are you doing this year?  I love the ability we all have as artists to re-invent ourselves at any time, but it is exciting at the New Year.  A fresh start to combine with the fresh frosty air. And I would like to keep up with folks who are making some big changes in their lives.

Today I took photos of the upstairs dry studio and of projects in the thinking stage...  
new seeds from butternut squash and gold painted acorn squash seeds
Linen tea towels ready for hemming, a way to get rid of the giant pile of rescued linen clothing from Good Wills
Current position of studio sofa where I can still watch the television but reach the current sewing project and see out the window and feel cosy
And finally my PaperWhites have bloomed on schedule, right when there is a frosting of dreaded snow on the ground.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Something Wonderous This Way Comes...

Morning coffee on Lopez island
Yes indeed, the fair month of October is upon us.  This used to be my favorite month of the year because I loved the way one can write it out with a scratchy pen on paper...wonderful pen journeys around those "o"s.  Now I just feel scratchy.

The Wonderous Things Coming of this blog title include, FINALLY,  the Fall and Winter Workshop Classes held here at my cozy West Asheville studio.  They are listed in full color on the "Upcoming Workshops" page right above this post.  The first one will be held this coming weekend, the big two day resist dyeing blowout.  I'm already starting today because I am so excited to be back in the downstairs studio.  I've cleared off the big tables of their fall overcoat of the "100 Things To Get Rid Off" week.  Some objects are waiting for a warm Saturday Flea Market, some are awaiting for Goodwill and others are in limbo and will likely continue to linger there until my next manic stage of housecleaning.

My first project this week will be the long awaited fruit sugar Indigo vat of Michele Garcia.  I have a new scarf design which will make use of that deep, deep Indigo blue. And my eyes and soul are also in deep, deep need of the magic of Indigo. 

But before I can start on the fun stuff, I need to arrange and put await the last away workshop's collection of rusty tools, packaged dyes, left over wool.  Teaching is more than the days spent with eager students.  For every day teaching, I have to count on one day of prep and one day of after-cleaning.  A five day class is really 15 days of work. Well, maybe 12.  And I'm a slug on that cleaning.  I need to wash out all the dye pots that have been patiently waiting for months...and months.  If they could cry, they would be sobbing over my indifference.  But then if they could cry, they would be washed already! I have put my skills and energies into learning how to stack and condense amazing amounts of dirty dye pots and equipment rather than vigorously scrubbing them when they come into the studio.

Other Wonderous Stuff...check out the difference between these two meals.  One was a delish burger and fries consumed on my way home from Lopez Island this summer.  The other is of my new  debut of actually cooking with vegetables instead of buying them, arranging them nicely in the refrigerator and decorative bowls and a few weeks later dumping them into the compost.  I am on a 12 week program which hopefully will retune my brain to eating regularly - and eating healthy foods.  They say that if you do anything for three months it most likely will become a habit.

This program started with a Detox week of only veggies.  It was and continues to be a shock to me that so much can be made out of these lovely piles of greens and reds.  The first day I ate all 5 meals of raw, crunchy things. (ICK) Now I remember making soups, smoothies, salads, steamed green things - all learned from my spotted past working in natural food stores.  Funny how the brain becomes selective with past memories and usually only remembers those lovely dinners of low cal microwave popcorn and a good G&T - or two.
On the work front, I am making lots of fabric covered Perfect Bound notebooks.  This I learned from my honored teacher Dan Essig.  I increased the size, did a few marvelous changes and made the covers from my old hand printed fabrics from 1995 Penland days. (Actually I found those fabrics while in the middle of the above mentioned 100 Objects-get-rid-a-thon).  These notebooks will be on Etsy soon and at my last two Fall shows coming up (SAFF and Voorhees Family Art Show).  It's exciting to be in production with a new book and new products never fail to give me renewed energy to last out the year.

And since I DID mention that I am working in the wet studio these days, I better get down there, but a few more Wonderous Items to come our way....
Downton Abby Returns!!!
After 4 weeks I can drink wine again!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Fine Day in June...

Chadley and Sara just before Chad's brain got fried in Vegetable Dye Chemistry class.
There's been a song wandering around in my brain today that has a line that goes,"It's a fine day in June, la la la lala la."  That's about all I remember from most songs, but it was an Irish tune, probably about a depressing situation like self rule or famine. However when I see that first empty space when started another blog post, whatever is in my head becomes the title.  Then I try to match up a written theme to that title and then I am in deep writer's block dodo.

I am a lot smarter today than I was during the last blog post in April.  I determined that this year, instead of visiting my dear friend Joke in Holland, I would take three classes. I have written about the book class with Dan Essig in January, but then came a fabulous experience learning to make paper, beautiful, useful paper at Bookworks right here in West Asheville.

 Here I am with our teacher, the ever patient (I have NEVER seen such a patient man!!) and famous paper maker Frank Bannon.  He is probably explaining to me why dropping a big mac into the Hollander beater is Not a good idea.  I am fascinated with the tools of new endeavors, and paper making has some nice ones.  Beautifully hand crafted molds and deckles, hydraulic presses, drying racks, and that very expensive Hollander beater which I love.  I never believed folks when they would try to make a connection between felt and paper.  "No, no.  It's totally different.  Have you no eyes!" But now I feel a strong technical connection between the two.  It may have been the water or the buckets or the process or the water.
I found that in learning the steps to prepare the fibers for processing, I was repeating steps from my earlier textile techniques.  My years of sourcing, cutting up and weaving rugs from corduroy pants has prepared me for the same job of searching goodwills for linen clothing and cutting them to useable size.  I like that type of echoing of my textile history.  Makes me feel that I am still on a path of sorts.  I suppose the thrill and excitement of taking home a bundle of almost translucent, crisp flax paper with deep brown edges is a plus also.

I will be returning to the paper mill the last week of July with two wonderful friends who were also in my class.  Since we all did the papermaking intensive and did not burn down, blow up, or flood the place, we are all now certified to use the mill on our own.

And then I took my last class at St. Andrew's/Sewanee in TN.  Michel Garcia, master vegetable dyer from Apt, France.  I am in love with this sweet, incredibly intelligent, funny man.  Although he was showing us some basic chemistry: acid, bases, salts (and probably a bit of lemon juice) I, at least, even with textile chemistry under my belt, felt several times a day that my brain was nearing self destruct mode. ("Danger, Will Robinson")  So then Michel would tell us simple but maddening stories about foxes and dogs with big mouths and cats with tiny ones and friends of friends of friends, and rabbits and carrots and donkeys and sugar.

fustic lake
One thing we learned that I am very excited about is the creation of lakes; dye and/or pigment lakes from the vegetable dyes.  On one hand, making lakes from left over dyebaths is a great way to save the dye.  Just put in small bottle with clove oil and arrange it artfully on a shelf.  But if you let the dye dry out, it becomes a pigment, ready, with the addition of some carrier, for the paper. 

It is almost too much to learn all of this as I want to do everything at once.  When I am at the class, I am full of ideas. When I get home, I want to start on those ideas but then what about the dishes, or the cat box (more important as it is near the dye stove), or all those emails, or mail, bills...well you get the idea. 
madder lake

I have one more week off right now and before I start the hectic packing for another whirlwind of workshop teaching maybe I will study that "Chemistry for fools or idiots"book I ordered. How do you take advantage of new knowledge, when the old stuff still needs tending to...I have been getting up early to start my interval running (first 5K in November) but after that is done  I have to take a nap (part of the training) eat, do the dishes and then it's time to watch NCIS!!  Somehow I will manage to figure this out, the greatest question of all time.  If you have any ideas, mail them to me with a few hundred dollar bills.
Early morning figuring out place!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Time Between Seasonal Affective Disorder and Allergies

Just in time spring arrives with it's wind-driven pollen blowing away the grey clouds of crappy winters.  But it's just one more red, itchy eyeball and sneezing fit to me.  Luckily the studio is a pollen free zone (although a suicidal stink bug breached the barriers).   I am really enjoying the two day workshop classes, and especially the current Two Day Resist Dyeing Blowout of last weekend and the upcoming one.  Blowout is a weird word to describe the little rays of electricity and puffs of smoke of the quiet but powerful brain waves emulating from student heads when confronted with lilac, grey and orange dyepots!

And just in time for this Blog, I have had two cancellations for this coming weekend's class (April 14 & 15th).  If you want to come and put your brain in the dyepot, please email me.  It's delightful. Here are some results of last weekend.
Yum Yum. It is hard to concentrate on just one thing as the spring picks up strength and knowledge of the upcoming teaching season dawns on me.  I want to live in my dye studio, I wanna open all those containers of awaiting natural dyes; the cochineal, the lac, the 35 gallons of heavenly stinking walnut mash. 

When the resist tools are sorted out, all in their precious little plastic tupperware containers, they get so lonely and cry out to me, disturbing a good night's sleep. "Clamp me, squish me, fold and pinch me!" What shall I do??

And upstairs I hear the grumblings of the book studio, the bone folders clackering in their boxes, the waxed linen drooping.  "Come work with us," the sewing needles plead.  Papers start to silently wrinkle.  Buttons disappear off the table to be at the mercy of the cat.  The scissors decide to rust.

It is a scary house in which to be living and artmaking.  Luckily I am working in one area - that of testing local brews.  Asheville isn't called "Beer City" for nuthin'.
And in the midst of ignoring calls from the studio tools and while enjoying brew test number 12, I hear screams from my side hosta garden where the gnomes are being overwhelmed by leaves, weeds and large ants!

I tell ya, Teaching season can't come too soon.  So please check out the teaching schedule page on this blog - right up at the top, and come and play with the dyes and felts and books and even the gnomes if they haven't gone on strike and wandered off to a more hospitable garden.

Below is my 'gardening shed' with evidence that I have a history of procrastination.  The oil tank was redundant four years ago when I switched to gas; the tools are bound with spider webs and the moose is dead.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Finding Unexpected Joys

early morning surprises
It is exquisite and achingly beautiful just outside my window; full blown spring, temperatures in the 70's, sun full of vitamin D, bugs floating in shadows.  And here I sit determined to catch up with computer-paper.  I've totally given up on the taxes and sales taxes and requests for information I didn't even know I possessed. That's Not a surprise!

A real surprise came from a wonderful friend on Lopez Island, Christie Carter  who has passed on a blogging award - The Liebster Award!  Of it she writes... "in the spirit of fostering new connections, the idea of the Liebster Award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers.  Just a few rules for the recipient which come with acceptance of the award:

*Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them. (check)
*Copy & paste the award onto your blog.(check)
*Reveal your own five picks for the award & let them know by leaving them a comment on their blog.(check)
* Have faith that the love will spread...(future check)"

She also wrote that I did need to write more often.  She probably knows I need constant encouragement and treats to do so!

So here are my picks for passing on the Liebster Award:

Elis Vermeulan - who writes about and photographs her work building global burrows of wool and is included in my list of fabulous women with whom I won't mind being stranded on an island.
Mendy Knott - Writer and poet extraordinare now sending out wisdom and encouragement from the Ozark Mountains.
leigh Wilkerson - Changing the earth/dirt one garden at a time.
Jane Dunnewold -  Smart, wise, fabulous artist and has a great tattoo.

Now some of these blogs are slightly over the 200 follower limit and that is most likely due to my slug-like behavior of not posting this blog months ago when Christie sent me the award. But there you are. And here I am for the rest of the day...

the dye studio
the resist work
the book studio

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back In The Saddle Again

Taking a break at Art & Soul - Virginia.
Morning Loyal Blog Readers.  I have been writing and rewriting this blog page totally in my head for weeks - editing in my head, laughing uproariously at my clever turn of word; framing photos for the most wow response, but now it all comes down to sitting here, cold feet and all, poking at these dern computer keys to make the words and thoughts sit on this computer screen - and stay there!  I simply cannot wait for the computer thingy that plugs into my head so the thoughts and words automatically come tumbling out all over this page.  May I live so long - may I remember as well.

A lot has happened since the last post in January.  Spring has come to North Carolina and flowering trees are almost at their fabulous peak.  I am getting sunshine and vitamin D in my body finally and all past rantings and manifestos are fading from my frontal lobe.  I've decided not to follow through with my application to join the Navy Seal Secret Ops Intelligence Section 6.  Mostly because I am not that all intelligent and can't remember three words in a row for the life of me.  I also realized in a startling flash of understanding that the Navy Seals would not be all that interested in a 62 old woman who has a great fear of water and can't swim - and is deathly afraid of most bugs.  I know that if I were captured by the bad guys and tortured for all my spy-type knowledge, all they would have to do is bring in a bottle of Stink Bugs and I'd talk their ears off.

I have been walking every day but telling everyone that I am really running.  I have all the runner's clothing down pat except for the lumps in my pockets where I store extra dates, oranges and kleenex for emergencies. I use an iphone app called i map my fitness that uses GPS to figure out how far I've gone. In January I started puffing around the park at around a mile or so a day, aiming for an end of the year grand total of 500 miles.  Currently I am walking 4 miles/day with two blocks of honest-to-god-running tossed in (if I have eaten all my dates and oranges).  Asheville has a fabulous organization called Riverlink which promotes awareness of the rivers that run through this area, especially the French Broad River.  Right now there are about 7 miles of connected walkways right along the river and that is where I can be found most afternoons, smelling the change of the season, avoiding dog noses and wearing old marathon t-shirts found at Good Will.
I figured I would spend the walking time thinking artistic thoughts about current and future projects but then I was introduced to Pandora radio on my iphone and figured out how to plug the ear buds into my ears without rupturing anything.
'Bookshelf' of books and bindings learned in D. Essig's class.

NEW BINDING NEWS:  In late January I took a class at John C Campbell Folk School with revered book binding teacher Dan Essig. 
There is something so invigorating for a teacher like me to be able to take a class and be totally free of all teaching mindset - the schedule, timing, supplies, etc.  I soaked up new book bindings like, well, a sponge in hot coffee!  My mind was full of "what ifs" and "let's try...".  I brought a box of old fabric samples from my Indigo dyeing and potato starch printing days and I worked and thought on a new book class idea using all textiles.

Cover of the mica book with a hinged binding.
 This is the interior of the mica covered "Indigo" book.  Three different types of mica are used to encapsulate my old indigo shibori samples.  Gold toned composite mica pages have windows cut out and replaced with clear 'real' mica. The pages are "drummed" - glued back to back.

We did another mica book, this with mica pages encapsulating fabric samples I did with potato dextrin years ago.  The binding I am in LOVE with -  a slotted long stitch with covered kettle stitches on either end. (at least that's what my notes say)
On the left is the inside of the potato dextrin print book. Dan showed us how to rub acrylic paints into the cracks of the mica.

The orange leather (sourced from the Tuesday Flea Market in Murphy, NC) book was my version of the class sample of the above slotted long stitch.
I tried to make my own versions of all the books Dan had us make in class (the class title was "A Book A Day") so I would remember how to do the bindings.  At this point, two months later, I find I am having trouble remembering how to put these photos on this blog!!  However there is something that kicks in as soon as I pick up the needle and waxed linen and have piles of neatly folded signatures on one side of me and a giant pile of reference books and notes on the other.

 One of my favorite book we did which I am going to work into the textile book class was my version of a two needle coptic bound book.  The signatures are sewn onto a concertina folded spine guard.  In the original class sample the concertina was folded of paper, in my version I used a length of rather coarse linen from Holland.  The bookcloth is walnut dyed recycled linen.
The esteemed Book Binding teacher Dan Essig worshiping my little collection of finished books.  (Actually he is just taking a photo and will probably blacklist me from any future classes if he reads this.)
The biggest problem with having a bog and being a slug is that there is so much more I want to write about including a lovely blog award passed on by dear Chrissie Carter up in Lopez island.  So I will write tomorrow with hopes that something extraordinary will happen to me on the 'running' path this afternoon.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Passing of Days

Let's Roll...
I'm ready to admit that 2012 is here to stay and the days are no different than, say 2010.  But my body wants to stay curled up in that fetal position, a giant mound hidden by at least 3 feather comforters, safe and warm and totally mindless in my bed.

It doesn't help my general disposition that I got an ipad for the holiday (gift from myself...) and discovered Netflix in the next 10 minutes.  I can justify the hours of watching all those BBC programs because, um, ah...well, there is no justification, really.  I just wanted to wallow.

And then, probably because of the tiny background images of England seen between spies shooting each other on on MI5,  I start thinking of being elsewhere.  Anywhere elsewhere.  I start to notice each morning when I  get up around 10 am and fix the coffee, that the day is noticeably brighter. I stumble to the mailbox to find L.L. Bean catalogs and start drooling over a new red toiletry bag.  I wonder about hiking boots and if I really need sunglasses in the lower Alps.  I discover the calender app on the iPad  and start sketching out my year.  I develop an addiction to walking 10 miles every week and find that the best self encouragement is checking out the clothing worn by the runners who pass me several times on my daily 3 mile waddle.  I firmly believe that if I dress like a runner, I will be a runner. (or a weiner)

At that point, 2012 really starts for me.  Each small decision engenders another.  I have decided to forgo my annual spring trip to Holland and visiting my good pal Joke and instead sign up for classes - an advanced book binding class, a week of papermaking, a week with Michel Garcia on natural dyes.
The calendar is filling up, my teaching schedule has form.  I have the dates of the workshop schedules held here at my studio figured out. And that is the point of this blog post really, but I just finished my really, really good coffee and I become hopelessly entangled in words and images.

Below are the dates for workshops at my private studio in West Asheville for 2012.  Other dates may become available.  Please check my Blog (under workshops) for any additions. 

Workshops for the 2012 season will be two days instead of one.
The extended time will give everyone more time to think, ponder and work on the processes.  We may have dinner together between the two days to give us more time to talk.  And we'll be able to have extended time in the studio that evening and the next morning.  

Since many students come from out of town and have to get a hotel for a night, coming for a two day class makes more sense.  I'll be able to offer bookmaking and other topics that take longer than one rushed day.  
The cost for the two day workshops is $250.  This covers everything you will use in the class.  (wool, paper, dyes and chemicals, handouts and use of tools, etc.).  Additional wool, books and other supplies are available for purchase for home use.
If you wish to register for a workshop please email me to see if there is space.  Classes are small, four students. If there room, you will need to send a $50 deposit to hold your place.

The deposit is nonrefundable. If you are unable to come to that particular class but notify me at least three weeks before the class date, your deposit will be applied to a future class.  If you cancel 5 days before the class and I am unable to find a replacement for your spot, the deposit is forfeited. If you do not show up for the class, the deposit is forfeited. 
Workshops will run from 9am - 6pm (or so) on Saturday and 9am to 4 or 5 pm on Sunday). Other dates during the week may be available if groups would like to have a private workshop.  If you can only do a one day class, there may be ways we can organize that.  Please email for more information.

Bring your lunch. There is a lot of standing involved for most classes. There are stairs to use to get to the bathroom and lunch sitting areas.  I have two cats that may visit you but they generally go back to sleep.
Possible Workshop topics:
Resist Dyeing on Felt - two day blow out
The Mokume Bark Scarf and The Airey Fairey Hand Felted Scarf
Resist Dyeing (day one) and Bookmaking  - Quick Wrap Journal
Bookmaking - The Coptic Miniature Book
Resist dyeing and Felted Brooches

February 18-19th, 2012 Saturday and Sunday
Resist Dyeing (day one) and Bookmaking  - Quick Wrap Journal
            It's the fabulous Resist Dye Workshop! We will be felting and dyeing merino needle punch felt batts creating dozens of beautiful samples.  Learn how to set up a safe dye kitchen and even have the chance to be the Dye Master.  Discover the resist design opportunities in everyday objects as we dye and re-dye the felt.
And then we'll use that glorious felt to create fabulous long stitch bound blank books for travel journals, daily thoughts, sketchbooks or, well, anything.

March 17-18th, 2012
 The Mokume Bark Scarf and The Airey Fairey Hand Felted Scarf
            This two scarf class will start by students dyeing their own merino roving and needlepunch batts with Dry Dye Powder dyeing.  Then we will learn to felt the batt and stitch it with a traditional Japanese resist stitching method called Mokume to create a bark-like design and texture and re-dye the scarf in a resist dye bath.  The next day we will learn to lay out the dyed merino roving and wet felt the beautiful Airey Fairy scarf.
April 7-8th, 2012
Resist Dyeing on Felt - two day blow out
            Spending a day resist dyeing dozens of felt samples with incredible colors and patterns is a day spent it heaven!  Now imagine TWO days!  Enough said.

June 23-24, 2012
Studio Workshop - West Asheville

July 28-29, 2012
Studio Workshop - West Asheville

September 22-23, 2012
Studio Workshop - West Asheville

November 24-25, 2012
Studio Workshop - West Asheville