Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Knitter in a Haystack!

Dear Knitting Yogis,
Fall is in the air and the days are in perfect mint-condition. I have never been let down by this beautiful state in September and have no reason to believe it will be any different this year. Truly, even if we have a big storm while on Monhegan it will be exciting to stay inside by the woodstove knitting, laughing, and chatting with our friends while listening to the wind and rain blow against the windows. No matter what the weather brings, we have a wonderful time in store for us!

[One of countless stunning views.]

I have just returned from an Adventure of my own this past month. Many of you may recall the article written by Spike for Fiber Arts magazine this past spring titled Residencies and Retreats. Our trip to Monhegan Island was featured but on the next page was an amazing school called Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. I spent two glorious weeks there getting a huge dose of my own version of art therapy and inspiration! And while I took my yoga mat bag, it never saw the light of day…

[My roommate, Chantal, and I on the last day.

This time away brought some very interesting realizations for me. The first, which came before I ever left home, was how nervous yet excited I was at the prospect of going away to a relatively unknown place with a lot of people I’d never met. I realized that many of you who are brave enough to go on one of these Adventures with me must be experiencing these very same feelings. The second, after I arrived, was that I was in control of what I experienced on my Adventure. By keeping in mind my intention, what I hoped to personally receive from my time away, I assured my trip was a success. I alone was in charge of what I received from this experience.

While at Haystack, my days were spent in the ceramics studio with Philippe Barde, a world renowned ceramicist from Switzerland. We learned not just the mechanics of creating plaster molds and slip casting porcelain, but our days were filled with the more esoteric discussions of the spirit of art. I learned so much about pursuing that spirit and maintaining integrity in my work not just through class discussions but by the example of Philippe’s kindness and ego-free presence in the studio. These two weeks were about so much more than ceramics!

[My instructor, Philippe Barde, on the left.]

In my blissed-out state of mind after 14 days of being totally unplugged I came home and accidentally DELETED all my photos! Fortunately, I have been able to collect a few from friends and fellow students along with 1 or 2 I have taken since my return. One of my many projects I am particularly proud of is the recreation of a woven basket. (Imagine my original photo of this sitting on a lichen covered granite boulder among the pine trees…)

[My best piece of the session: a replica of a woven basket and handle in porcelain which took a total of 10 molds to create in its unglazed bisque stage.]

Other photos show the views I lived with for 2 weeks… imagine schooners passing by, hearing the waves on the shore a mere 40 feet from your pillow by night, immersing yourself in your work, cool ocean breezes, and no interruptions while listening to a lovely French accent by day… It was like a dream.

[Right: View from my studio. Bottom: Dorms at night.]

Now that I have partially pulled my head out of the clouds, I have felt a renewed sense of inspiration to bring to you next week on Monhegan. I’ve moved on to preparing our class project now and am hoping to convey some little bit of the joy of working for the sake of the art and not simply the product.


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