Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 2016 flows right on by...

Yes, I count down the days and the months.  Every bit of time is precious even though sometimes I don't stop to notice the quality of the time that's passing as I probably should.  Maybe I have too much focus on the quantity of time that flows by.

Last week I did very much notice the quality of time being spent.  I was at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC from Tuesday until Friday to work with the Fiber Arts Crew* there.  Jo Anna Hickman, the Fiber Art Fellowship/Crew Supervisor, asked me to come to teach her crew members about tapestry.  They have a commission to make a piece for the college's library and they've decided tapestry may be a major part of that.  I met Jo Anna when I taught at Peters Valley in the summer of 2014.  I love how the fiber art network can weave people and places together!

The original schedule was that I'd arrive on Thursday, January 21 and stay until the morning of the 29th.  However, Winter Storm Jonas had other plans.  While the north Georgia area didn't have significant snow or ice there was enough that fell and froze in Western NC for Warren Wilson to cancel classes on Friday and have a delayed start on Monday.  I didn't want to add to the burden of the wrecker services by getting on the road to head up that way until I was sure all was clear!  Once upon a time I probably would have done it.  But... that was then; this is now.

I drove up on Tuesday and arrive just fine.  My stay while there was at the St. Clair Guest House on campus:

Jo Anna and some of the Fiber Crew met me there and help get my bags upstairs.  Then we drove over to a parking lot that was as close as we could get to the Fiber Studio (the gravel road to the house where the studio is was still covered with ice and snow).  They helped me tote all my stuff for the class along a path through the woods to the studio... here's the level of the snow scraped to the edges of the parking lot!

I'm 5' 3"-- not too much taller than this snow mound!
I really wasn't sure how much we'd be able to accomplish in my shortened time with the students--and since the crew has work hours scheduled throughout the day around their classes and other obligations I didn't see the eight of them all together except for one brief meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  Over the two and 1/2 days I was there I worked with a few of the students at a time as they set up the Schacht tapestry looms owned by the program.  In spite of the schedule, all were able to warp for 4" wide at 8 epi and begin weaving a small techniques sampler that will be about 6-8" high.  Bit by bit, I was able to demonstrate and discuss most of the techniques I normally cover in a beginning class with all of the crew members.  Jo Anna has woven a bit of tapestry before and I think that with her guidance and with the peer teaching that they're used to doing they'll be able to accomplish what they hope to for their commission.

Here are some photos from the sessions:

Jo Anna is working on her sampler.
Jo Anna's sampler in progress.
I really, really enjoyed spending time with these amazing young people!  They were all so intent on learning about tapestry and serious about the importance of their work as part of the Fiber Arts Crew.  In addition to making woven works for different areas of campus (like the commissioned tapestry for the library) they also produce items for sale.  Here are a few of those objects.  Much of the weaving includes handspun and hand dyed yarns they've done there:

By the way, one of these scarves went home with me!

I'll return to spend another day with the students in early February.  I can't wait to see their progress by then!  Maybe they'll have their looms re-dressed with some of their handspun wool and be well underway with small tapestries that will be used in their commissioned piece.  Thanks, Jo Anna, for asking me to Warren Wilson College.  And THANK YOU all Fiber Arts Crew members for being such fabulous learners!

*  Warren Wilson College is one of only seven colleges in the U.S. that has this sort of work program for students.  Read more about it here.

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