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Archive for July, 2011

Rocky Mountain High at the Intermountain Weavers Conference (IWC)

After modest temperatures and gray skies, I finally found a little summer . . . and it was in Durango, CO . . . where I recently went to teach at the Intermountain Weavers Conference (IWC).  Every once in a while, I like a road trip . . . especially when I teach.  It requires me to prepare a little earlier, I can take everything I want, and the drive lets me relax and I show up rested and excited about teaching . . . plus, I can avoid those pesky and frequently invasive TSA security screenings.

Before arriving in Durango, CO I had a little excitement.  First, while on my way on the first day, my car (1997 Ford Explorer) turned 200,000 miles . . . a major milestone for any car.  My car has been a great car and this trip was no different than any other trip.  Trouble-free and comfortable.  I even kept an eye as the miles rolled along and stopped to take a picture at 199,999.  It’s a goofy thing to do . . . but, then I like doing goofy things.

The day I was to arrive in Durango, CO began in Grand Junction, CO.  After a good night’s rest, I headed off excited to know my next stop was IWC.  What I wasn’t aware of was how exciting and slightly unnerving my trip was going to be.  While working my way south, I monitored the GPS.  It looked odd for quite a while because the numbers were showing it was going to take me longer than I would have expected considering the number of miles left until I reached my destination.  And then I found out why . . . I was getting read to drive through the Red Mountain Pass!  There are steep grades, tight turns, and very few guard rails . . . and they seem to go on and on.  I can’t remember the last time I had such an exhilarating drive  . . . It’s an ominous drive, but the magnificent views are stunning and well worth the effort.

After my mountain adventure (which cried out for me to play John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High which is loaded on my iPod) , I arrived at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO at an elevation over 6,500 feet where IWC was being held.  Hauling luggage, teaching supplies, and the floor loom I took at that elevation is a little concerning since I live near sea level and I’m too young (or delusional) to want to huff-and-puff my way around campus.

IWC was exceptionally well-organized and the scenery was unbelievable . . . as though the entire conference had been plopped down in the middle of a movie set.  I was there to teach my workshop Pictures, Piles, Potpourri, & Perplexing Curiosities.  It’s a weaving workshop that is a smörgåsbord of weave structures . . . a weaving tasting menu of sorts.  The workshop is designed for intermediate-to-advanced weavers . . . but, it’s also for  ‘adventuring-seeking beginners’.  The workshop participants were more than ready for the challenge and wove some truly spectacular samples.  Below are just few examples of what they accomplished.

Corduroy samples before getting cut apart

Velvet (with a little uncut velvet pile to create contrast)

Images of thistles woven in swivel

It seemed IWC was over almost as quickly as it began . . . but, what an experience!  Not only did I get to teach a workshop for a great group of weavers . . . but, I was fortunate to spend time with other fiber artists.  The keynote address was delivered by Yoshiko Wada . . . and I’m more inspired than ever to do some new things.  You can learn about her at the following link  http://yoshikowada.wordpress.com/.  I’m rarely in completely and total awe of someone, but she had me captivated and wanting more after she concluded her presentation.  The fashion show was just want it should have been . . . fun and full of life!  The fashion show’s commentator was the extraordinary Anita Mayer.  Between her delivery style and the liveliness of the models the garments were brought to life.

After IWC came to a conclusion, I headed home with fond memories and completely impressed with how well IWC went.  The nice thing about teaching at a conference is that I often leave with less than I took . . . with my load a little lighter I hit the road to witness the beauty of this wonderful country.  The drive was easy . . . roads dry and the skies clear . . . the only blemish on the entire trip was the speeding ticket I received in Burley, ID while searching for a cup of coffee . . . but, then a gal can always use another memento as a way to remember an outstanding adventure.

MAFA – Fiber and Fashion Fun

The Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association (MAFA) recently held it’s conference (they refer to it as a retreat) at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA . . . and what a marvelous event it was!  Even before I arrived, my fashion and fiber adventure kicked in to high gear.  Because of the distance and time zone change, I chose to take a red-eye flight which connected me through the Atlanta airport.  After landing, I had a nearly three-hour long layover.  I enjoy hanging out in airports since the people-watching is so marvelous . . . however, as soon as I entered the airport terminal I was greeted with a fashion exhibit of the work by Nancy Judd of Recycled Runway.    Eighteen of Recycle Runway’s eco-fashion sculptures are installed in nine cases located throughout international Concourse E.  Ms. Judd’s creations show couture fashion from trash “as an innovative way to provide education about conservation”  I doubt I’ve had so much fun on a layover or was more surprised by the materials used to create such exceptional fashions!  This airport-based exhibit can be seen at http://recyclerunway.com/atl/.

After viewing the innovative fashions and sitting down for a quick breakfast, I was off to Baltimore where I was picked up and taken to Gettysburg.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, the majority of our architecture is relatively new . . . so I’m captivated by the homes and buildings that show lines and details that are not built anymore.  It’s almost like driving through a period novel or movie set.

After getting settled into our dorms rooms and classrooms at MAFA, we headed off to dinner . . . and following dinner were then treated to the MAFA fashion show.  I’m always inspired by fashion shows when weavers and other fiber artists get together and this was no different.  The following night was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . . a fashion show of Virginia West’s work that included fashions from the late 60s to her recent work.  Regardless of when a garment was made, it was timeless and still the height of fashion.  I had not had the pleasure of meeting Virginia West before, but she’s been a tremendous inspiration to me and many other weavers.  Not only did I get to meet her, but she was also one of my roommates!  Her show showed garment after garment . . . and best of all, Virginia herself was the event commentator.  To hear firsthand her insight and remarks offered incredible insight to one of the true icons in the weaving community.

With over 20 workshops going on simultaneously, meals were an exciting time to listen to what others were doing.  Saturday evening’s workshop tour was scheduled from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  I don’t recall so many people visiting workshops and I was in my room until 8:40 pm chatting away with visitors about what we were doing in my workshop Extreme Warp Makeover.

After the workshop open house, I headed back to my dorm room and was entertained by fireflies along the way.  Fireflies are nonexistent in western Oregon (where I grew up) and Washington (where I’ve lived for over 20 years) and I find them charming.  The following day was the end of the workshop . . . and hence, the end of MAFA.  As much as I was sorry to see MAFA end, I headed home with wonderful memories and new inspirations.  Now, I just need to find the time to make new ideas come to life!

Tut, tut . . . It looks like rain (but, it couldn’t dampen the spirits for the Midwest weavers)

I recently had the privilege and honor to teach at the Midwest Weavers Association 2011 conference, Northern Wefts.  It was held at Finlandia University in Hancock, MI . . . on Michigan’s upper peninsula.  I had never been fortunate enough to visit the upper peninsula before . . . however, whenever I told anyone where I was going, everyone (and I mean everyone!) that had been to Michigan’s upper peninsula told me how beautiful is was . . . and they couldn’t have been more correct.  From the moment I landed in Marquette, MI and was treated to a two-hour drive to Hancock and throughout my week, I got to witness stunning and lush scenes . . . Plato referred to nature as God’s art . . . and I couldn’t agree more after my recent experience.

I was fortunate to teach both a three-day preconference workshop and a two-day conference workshop.  During the week, we had mild, grey, and occasionally wet weather . . . It reminded me of home and the weather in the Seattle area that makes it so perfect for weaving.  The benefit of the mild weather is that it kept people from wilting in the heat . . . plus, no one seemed to mind being indoors.  Fortunately, the weather on the last day was warm and sunny . . . the perfect conclusion to a marvelous conference.

In addition to the joy of teaching, I thoroughly enjoyed so many things . . . I came home with three more shuttles.  Bruce with Kessenich Looms really out did himself and I can hardly wait to use the two shuttles I purchased from him . . . one is spalted elm and the other is walnut with a pattern in the grain I just couldn’t pass up.  Sheila O’Hara’s keynote address was entertaining and informative . . . and hysterical at times.  (Note to Sheila . . . a good speaker always leaves them wanting more and you did that beautifully!).  Immediately prior to Sheila’s keynote, Finlandia University’s president, Dr. Philip Johnson addressed us.  He was a great example of an accomplished speaker . . . he was brief in his address . . . and he demonstrated respect to his audience when he shared with us he had Googled information about weavers and learned about ‘weaver’s bottom’.  It was funny then . . . and I still chuckle about his comments as I write.

I will cherish my fond memories of being at MWA 2011.  There’s something about the spirit of fiber folks in the Midwest.  They take what comes and make one heck of an event out of it!


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